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Nature for people not people for nature

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The intricate environmental puzzle, which continues to confound many people is how to balance nature and people’s needs.

Guest Column Peter Makwanya

Nature and humans should have a reciprocal relationship, but this has not been fully appreciated or understood.

Without this understanding humans do not appreciate nature and how they can benefit from it, while also enjoying what it has to offer.

It is trite to mention that humans will always appreciate the beautiful and serene nature with attractive landscapes, yet they are the same people who are guilty of undressing, defacing and poisoning these vital natural landscapes for their personal satisfaction.

It has proven difficult to address how humanity can co-exist with nature without harming it.

Also, how long are people going to use language that contributes to environmental degradation?

What is the role of sustainable communication in minimising the habits that contribute to environmental destruction?

The answers will be provided when everyone — institutions and organisations — fully understand the sustainable role of environmental communication.

A closer and deeper analysis would reveal that no matter how much we want to establish a balance between nature for the people against the idea of people for nature, we need to take into account factors that govern the environment and sustainability into consideration, these include the ecological, economic, social and ethical considerations.

Where industrial, infrastructural development and farming expansion have to take place, these should go ahead, but take into consideration the socio-cultural and ethical considerations of local people as well as those of environmental management practices.

If the emphasis is just on the economic imperative, minus the other three, then there will be a problem.

While people are looking at ethical considerations, they also need to take into account, how best they can benefit from the environment without causing damage.

The tragedy is that within society, there is a greedy, selfish and destructive lot, with no regard for tomorrow.

These are known as eco-freaks, who are always obsessed with the ends not the means.

They are impatient for results, without considering how they arrive at those results.

If such people meant well, then we would not be having the term extinction – the extinction of wildlife or forest species.

The world has been watching helplessly as endangered species disappear, as humans have exploited the environment of its resources without any thought of the future.

Nature is being monetised at an alarming rate.

Of course, the human population has grown exponentially over the years, while land is a finite resource, meaning there was bound to be exploitation of nature.

Agricultural, infrastructural development, mining and industrial practices have seen the destruction of millions of hectares of forests worldwide, meaning the exercise of environmental stewardship is increasingly becoming harder, as activists are powerless in the midst of expansionist government policies.

It is the duty of everyone to transform their environment, so that they can live sustainably in a world whose natural resources are being exploited at a scale never seen before.

Regulations on environmental governance should be stiffer, with taxes and penalties for those who thrive on the abuse of natural resources, with the money raised from such levies being ploughed into the environment.

Organisations that advocate for the preservation of nature need more support from the governing authorities.

With sustainable management practices, nature can be useful and is an important resource.

Where there is a lack of control measures, we will witness nature depreciating very fast culminating in deserts, gullies and other forms of degradation.

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