Nature’s Guest: The importance of all wildlife, including plants

Louis Jordaan | 10 January 2024

Some people suffer from the misconception that one has to visit certain places to experience nature, such as farms or nature reserves. In reality nature is not a place, we are part of nature (creation) and nature is everywhere – it doesn’t matter where we find ourselves. Consequently, everything we do impacts on nature – once again it doesn’t matter where the act is performed. In this regard I have to say that man is a very strange creature indeed, because we continuously find innovative ways of endangering our own livelihood – a sound natural environment. Do you think that I am raving? How about the following for an example of man’s stupidity?

Plants have been described as part of the lungs of the natural environment for their ability to remove carbon dioxide from and release oxygen into the atmosphere. But worldwide plants are destroyed on a massive scale. At the same time man overloads the atmosphere with enormous amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. To put it in other words, on the one hand we are decreasing nature’s capacity to keep the atmospheric gases in balance while, on the other hand, we pump harmful gases into the atmosphere. Not unlike a heavy smoker refusing to stop smoking despite suffering from a serious lung disease!

The importance of actions such as tree planting campaigns, are stressed by some people. Others, though, react quite negatively to such campaigns, maintaining that these efforts have a very negligible effect on the fight against climate change. It may be true that the efforts of tree planters have no real direct impact, but for me, the value of such campaigns lies with creating awareness and changing attitudes. Somebody who has helped to plant a few trees might just have a change of heart and regard trees and other plants from a different perspective, realising that plants are not there for the sole purpose of their consumption and misuse, and that plants (and not animals) are responsible for keeping the air we breathe in balance.

Of course, this careless attitude towards plants is not strange. Many people view plants on the same level as non-living objects. Consequently, most people find animals more interesting and regard them as more important than plants. And, of course, the bigger the animal the more interesting and important it is! I am, however, not saying that plants are more important than animals and other wildlife – nature is one big sensitive system and concepts such as balance and interdependence are crucial.

Consequently, whatever we do (and wherever we do it!) must always be done considering nature.

Keep in mind that you are a guest of nature and must learn to act like a well-behaved guest! (Friedensreich Hundertwasser).