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Essay

Aaditya Singh

Year-Prize: The 10th Eco-generation Environmental Essay Competition     Item: Connecting People to Nature by rediscovering the value of nature

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'Nature- Our Umbilical Cord'


Aaditya Singh (United Arab Emirates)

Eco-generation Prize



'Connecting People to Nature'? The theme is a rhetorical question, because connection to nature is a universal truth, not only in life but also after death.
Don't we depend on nature, like babies in mother's womb? Akin to umbilical cord, nature nourishes and sustains us with the bounty of mother Earth. Our survival and livelihoods are endowments of nature. And in death, whether cremated or buried we become one with nature, returning what we take from her.
Fresh air, water, sunlight, food,? are lifelines provided by nature. Furthermore, we never tire reveling in the splendor of nature. In our daily lives however, we take these boons for granted, over-exploiting the biodiversity bestowed upon us as a gift. I too was guilty of such negligence, till a visit to my native village proved an eye-opener.
Two years ago, I visited my grandfather in a remote village in the Himalayan foothills. The discomfort of a long bumpy drive, huddled with our suitcases in the car, because an eco-friendly CNG cylinder occupied the boot was defrayed by the vistas playing like movies along winding roads.
Clouds cascading down lofty ranges, deep valleys shimmering with slithering rivers, swaying waterfalls and lush greenery, nested in nature?s lap - A visual delight, a spiritual experience, Landscapes waiting to be painted!
Our ancestral home built with indigenous Cedar wood and locally quarried stone, had natural ventilation through high dormer windows- the most effective air conditioning, I'd ever known. Not once did I require medication for allergic asthma that plagues me in cities.
Leisurely treks on forest trails under tree canopies 'Hide and Seek' in sprawling mustard fields, dotted with tiny yellow flowers are memories closest to my heart. Picking fresh vegetables in stepped farms or climbing trees to eat ripe mangoes, were novel experiences for me.
Most villagers owned small family farms providing for them. Surplus was bartered or sold. They harvested rainwater, composted organic waste and practiced rotation farming to replenish the soil.
At a community gathering I was served food on traditional plates made from Sal tree leaves and twigs. After use, these 'Green Disposables' were buried to decompose naturally.
People in my 'underdeveloped' village lived in harmony with their environment. Caring for nature required no effort. In contrast, ?developed? urban lifestyles have lost their connection with nature.
My village rules my dreams and beckons me back!
Ongoing urbanization and global warming demand rediscovering the value of nature and reviving our association with it, to combat climate change, and contribute to a sustainable future.
Nature is often associated with environment and ecosystems carbon footprints and greenhouse gases. However, besides eco-conservation, connection with nature must include socio-economic factors too. Connecting people to nature entails a balancing act between 3 P's- People, Planet and Profit.
'Green Schools' can reintroduce nature into our growing years, breeding appreciation and respect for the environment towards reversing the negative impact of industrialization.
Urban areas have to renew their bond with the environment. In UAE where I reside, traditional practices are being integrated with technical innovation to create sustainable cities and raise awareness about social transformation to build a lasting connection between People and the Planet.
Seeking inspiration from nature, I propose a living city analogous to a healthy human body, a unique creation of nature that has sustained for centuries as the highest living form. Landscaped areas serving as the respiratory system of our cities can replace carbon dioxide with oxygen.
Forest reserves and Wetlands within cities to preserve natural ecosystems will also balance pollution and effectively filter wastes. Community parks on reclaimed waste land and highway underpasses turned into valuable green spaces can connect neighborhoods, creating landscapes that promote human interaction with nature.
People can be compelled to visit such outdoor public spaces by creating functional areas like game fields, play pens and water bodies and enjoy beauty of nature through gardens with tree canopies and wide walkways.
Private properties can be connected with public areas creating networks of biodiversity friendly neighborhoods, equally healthy for people and the ?flora and fauna?. Such self sustaining landscapes will bring nature to our doorsteps. Large scale tree canopies will also improve air quality and combat urban heat islands.
Community farming within urban or suburban areas, where residents care for the farms and reap the fruits literally enjoying fresh produce from their own farms! Composting facilities at such farms can ensure effective utilization of raw organic wastes from household kitchens. This will nourish the farms, as also reduce organic wastes in landfills.
To quote Paul Claudel, "It is not my thorns that protect me, says the rose. It is my fragrance." 
More than predictions of doom, I have highlighted the beauty and value of nature, to make you feel it and be touched by it, and to make you believe, "I am with nature!"

7 Comments

Sandip Paudel

  • Sandip Paudel says :
    mindblowing awesome skill great!!!
    Posted 10-09-2018 04:05

Aaditya Singh

  • Aaditya Singh says :
    Thanks alot Neha for your encouraging comment.
    Posted 29-07-2017 00:12

  • Neha Swaminathan says :
    Hearty congrats Aaditya. Nice essay.
    Posted 26-07-2017 12:29

Aaditya Singh

  • Aaditya Singh says :
    Thank you Ecogen Team for appreciating my writing with this honor. I shared this news and my essay with my grandfather and he could not believe that my visit to the village could make me win a contest!!!
    Posted 21-07-2017 06:03

Aaditya Singh

  • Aaditya Singh says :
    Thanks Arushi and Viraaj for your encouraging words.
    Posted 21-07-2017 06:00

Viraaj Kulshreshtha

Arushi Madan

  • Arushi Madan says :
    Awesome piece. I loved reading it from the first to the last word. Congrats, well deserved.
    Posted 30-06-2017 04:55

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