2020VISION: UK photographers making space for nature

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) report, DEFRA’s National Ecosystem Assessment, the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, and “Making Space for Nature”, Professor Sir John Lawton’s review of England’s wildlife sites are all essential reading for conservation professionals and campaigners. Yet if the important issues raised in these documents are to be pushed higher up the political agenda, they first need to prick the public conscience and become mainstream topics of conversation.

Capercaillie Photo: Peter Cairns/2020VISION

Nature conservation needs to be discussed in the workplace, in the pub, and over the social networks. It is vital that “the man in the street” makes the connection between their own wellbeing and a healthy environment.

To this end, a group of committed photographers and other media professionals have come together under the banner of 2020VISION, to try to take these messages to a much wider audience. Showcasing many of the landscape-scale restoration projects that are currently being undertaken all over the country, and featuring charismatic images of wildlife, twenty of the UK’s finest nature photographers are covering twenty “good news” stories across all the major habitats, over a period of twenty months.

The aim is to then disseminate these stories through a book, and a series of exhibitions, workshops, and roadshows that will tour the country beginning this summer. Not in highbrow London art galleries or exclusive conference halls, but to be seen in shopping centres, hospitals, and public parks, up and down the UK.

Partners in 2020VISION include IUCN UK National Committee, and most of the conservation NGOs are endorsing the initiative. The initiative is also beginning to attract interest and sponsorship from the corporate sector, for example from water companies that have an obvious stake in the environment – but it needs a few more financial backers to step up if the vision is to be fully realised.

The project takes its lead from Wild Wonders of Europe, but nothing on this scale has ever been attempted before in the UK. 2020VISION co-ordinator Peter Cairns said, “We believe that people need to be inspired by nature, rather than made to feel guilty all the time; if they feel good, they are more likely to do good. Fantastic photography can provide a convenient bridge between conservation science and a mainstream audience, whose relationship with the natural world is often one founded on emotion. It’s all about communicating in terms that resonate with modern values.”

The 2020VISION exhibition and roadshow launches in Edinburgh on Thursday 5 July 2012.

You can view the Flickr gallery with images from the initiative here.

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