Today is World Environment Day – a day when we turn our focus to cleaning up the planet.
The date (it’s always June 5 every year) isn’t just a day to read about the problems affecting the countryside, it is all about action and physically getting off your chair to do something to help preserve nature.
That could means organising a litter picking outing, hiking in your local park, planting trees or snapping some beautiful shots of the great outdoors and sharing them online.
Here is everything you need to know.
This year is all about connecting people to nature.
That means encouraging people to get outdoors and appreciate the beauty of the planet in a bid to show people the importance of protecting it for future generations.
The theme was chosen by this year’s host country – Canada – which will be the centre of World Environment Day activities.
Around the world people will be planting trees, cleaning up their neighbourhoods and taking action against wildlife crimes.
The day itself is all about raising awareness about nature and the importance of protecting it so anything that has people embracing the outdoors is a small step towards helping.
The World Environment Day website explains: ‘In recent decades, scientific advances as well as growing environmental problems such as global warming are helping us to understand the countless ways in which natural systems support our own prosperity and well-being.
‘For example, the world’s oceans, forests and soils act as vast stores for greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane; farmers and fisher-folk harness nature on land and under water to provide us with food; scientists develop medicines using genetic material drawn from the millions of species that make up Earth’s astounding biological diversity.
‘Billions of rural people around the world spend every working day ‘connected to nature’ and appreciate full well their dependence on natural water supplies and how nature provides their livelihoods in the form of fertile soil. They are among the first to suffer when ecosystems are threatened, whether by pollution, climate change or over-exploitation.
‘Nature’s gifts are often hard to value in monetary terms. Like clean air, they are often taken for granted, at least until they become scarce. However, economists are developing ways to measure the multi-trillion-dollar worth of many so-called ‘ecosystem services’, from insects pollinating fruit trees in the orchards of California to the leisure, health and spiritual benefits of a hike up a Himalayan valley.’
What events are taking place and how can I get involved?
1) The World Environment Day website advises people to get down to their local parks and not just look at the views but get involved in them. That means not just looking at a lake but whipping off your clothes and jumping in (where safe to do so and with others). Share photographs on social media with the hashtag #worldenvironmentday too.
‘Connecting to nature can involve all the physical senses: why not take off your shoes and get your feet (and hands) dirty; don’t just look at the beautiful lake, jump in! Take a hike at night and rely on your ears and nose to experience nature,’ The website adds.
2) Plant a tree or check out insects
‘You can also connect with nature in the city, where major parks can be a green lung and a hub of biodiversity. Why not do your bit to green the urban environment, by greening your street or a derelict site, or planting a window box? You could put a spade in the soil or lift a paving slab and see what creatures live beneath,’ the website says.
2) Organisers are also encouraging people to organise litter pick ups, not only in their neighbourhoods but down at local beaches and in forests and woods.
3) Contribute to a science project with the app iNaturalist.