97% of all vertebrate animals on this planet are humans or the creatures we domesticate for companionship or food.
This shocking quote is taken from the book “Joining Loose Ends”, written by Keith Badger about his 2801km walk across Great Britain with his wife Debby. I find myself repeatedly reflecting on the meaning of 97%. I wonder how different our wild places would look if vertebrate life wasn’t so dominated by humans. The first vertebrate land animals evolved approximately 350 million years ago. Our species, homo sapiens, have been around for a mere 250,000 years – a blink of an eyelid in comparison. What takes my breath away even more is how quickly we have eclipsed life on Earth. According to the World Wildlife Fund, populations of wild animals have declined by more than half since 1970. Less than 50 years. I find this incomprehensible. This means I was born into a world where twice as many wild animals roamed as do today. I long to be part of such a world today, a world that so much richer with biodiversity. And what next?
Keith Badger’s long walk across Britain proved to be life changing and forever changed the way he understood the world. Not long after finishing this challenge and returning to Melbourne, he and Debby decided to enrol at the holistic Schumacher College in Devon, UK, on a series of courses in Ecology. As part of this adventure, Debby had the privilege of studying with Dr Stephen Harding and participated in one of his Deep Time Walks. Debby brought this experience back to Melbourne and I was fortunate to be one of the early participants on her Deep Time Walks in St Kilda. It was an afternoon which made a lasting impact and gave me the tools to understand the impact of Humans in a totally new light. Five years later when Debby offered to had her notes over to me so I too can become a Deep Time Walk guide I was so excited by the potential of this new venture. Through providing this educational experience to others I hope to convey a new respect for our wonderful planet, and how it is incumbent upon us all to conserve it for future generations.