What is it?
Ecosystems and biodiversity are important information sources for science and education. By studying nature, students learn how ecosystems work. That insight is necessary in order to understand why biodiversity is declining and how that influences a wide range of services that people rely on. From a position of understanding, we can identify ways of restoring biodiversity and of continuing to make use of nature, but sustainably.
The ideal place for nature education is… nature itself. Personal contact with nature enables students to realise what it is actually like, what animals and plants there are and how nature is important for the economy and for our health and wellbeing. Personal contact can also be an opportunity to see first hand the consequences of failing to look after our natural capital.
In order to ensure that nature is utilised on a sustainable basis, it is important to know what ecosystems are capable of supporting and how large and varied they need to be in order to last and be of service to us indefinitely. We can then develop guidelines for the conservation and restoration of nature. For educational purposes, it is important that nature is accessible and close at hand.
In real life
Many technologies stem from the observation of nature. A good example is aircraft technology, which mimics the way that birds fly. That kind of ‘biomimicry', as it is known, is currently attracting a lot of attention from the business world. Knowledge of natural processes can also contribute to increased sustainability. Our insight into the significance of nature for the availability of ecosystem services is improving all the time, for instance. And it is not only scientific institutes that are driving progress in this field. Many volunteers invest a great deal of time and energy in the collection of data on flora and fauna and in nature education. As well as yielding additional data, amateur involvement is of benefit to the volunteers, whose welfare is enhanced by contact with nature.