For many of us, nature has become a destination. It is somewhere we go for a holiday or over a weekend. We leave our preoccupied lives behind and venture off to a national park or game reserve in our fossil fuel guzzling 4×4 laden with all the necessary gadgets and accessories. In reality however, nature is not just a place where we visit to relax.
Nature is where we are right now, it is where we live, and where we get our basic requirements for life. It is amazing what a week in the bush can do for the soul; it is a pity that we do not take that connectedness back home with us and relive that feeling every single day. It is possible!
Our idea of a natural environment is largely determined by what we see on television. Vast areas, where the plants and animals exist without interference of man. However, our definition of the natural environment should not exist as a naïve Utopian analogy. Africa is blessed with many open spaces such as the Serengeti, Masai Mara, Okavango Delta and Kalahari Desert; however, these are not the only natural places.
Our disconnection from the environment is amplified by “pay for view” natural spaces such as national parks and game reserves. They create a dangerous and segregating perception that natural areas are for the exclusive enjoyment of “other people” – those who can afford the entrance fee and accommodation and that conservation is for wealthy people. This is why inner city public nature reserves and recreational areas are so important, as they offer an accessible place for everyone to enjoy, without cost.