In 1997, the very successful NatureScape Alberta program was started. Reviewers praised the book and sales were gratifying. The book can be purchased either at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre or from the Nature Alberta. Since then, RDRN has continued the naturescape concept by purchasing educational tools for local natural history organizations and assisting with the purchase of land suitable for wildlife habitat.
NatureScaping is an idea whose time has come. In fact, it may just be in the nick of time. Since the Neolithic, we have been forcing nature into a mould for human convenience, and since the 1950s, the force has multiplied many fold due to dazzling technology and unbridled growth. In his song After the Gold Rush, Neil Young says, “Look at Mother Nature on the run in the nineteen seventies.”
At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the run has become a stampede, and the human imprint is everywhere. We have settled into almost every habitat and, with our settlement, have razed, altered and evicted, believing these spaces to be empty of anything worthwhile. But there is no such thing as “empty” in the natural world. Every inch of this Earth supports a complex citizenry living in a dynamic and ordered community.
The concept of NatureScaping gives us the chance to redevelop an active, living community that will benefit not only nature, but ourselves. As Wes Jackson says in his important little book Becoming Native to This Place:
It is possible to love a small acreage in Kansas as much as John Muir loved the entire Sierra Nevada. This is fortunate, for the wilderness of the Sierra will disappear unless little pieces of non-wilderness become intensely loved by lots of people.
If we come to cherish those places where wilderness has long since disappeared, perhaps we will also be moved to protect what is left of our wild places.
One of my pet “hobby horses” is to advocate that everyone should get to know his or her neighbours of other species. This basic, traditional knowledge should be passed on from parent to child, from teacher to student. Sadly, such teachings are rare. Now, through NatureScape Alberta, you can learn the names and habits of some of those neighbours. By applying the principles outlined in this book, you can encourage new neighbours to come.
It will be like a block party. It will be better than a party. In an increasingly alienated world, NatureScaping will get people away from the TV and computer monitor, and out there with reality. NatureScaping will bring together families, human neighbours and communities.
The great environmentalist, David Brower, said, “What this planet needs is CPR; not cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, but Conservation, Preservation and Restoration.” Imagine the effect if backyards, front yards, school yards and city parks were all developed as NatureScapes!