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Posted on December 19, 2017 @ 12:33:00 PM by Paul Meagher
If you google the phrase "invest in nature" you will encounter companies discussing various green projects they are funding. There will also be complaining about how government should be doing more to help the environment. This is certainly one way you can understand the phrase "invest in nature": it is about how to allocate funding to fix or improve some aspect of the natural world. The purpose of this blog, however, is to offer another interpretation of what "invest in nature" should mean.
I propose that "invest in nature" refers primarily to how you allocate your time, not your money. In fact, you can invest heavily in nature without spending a dime if you are spending a lot of quality time in nature.
Time as Money
Investing time into nature is a real investment because you could be doing other things with your time. Instead, you are investing your precious time into getting out and doing stuff in nature. As you get older, time is more precious than money which makes the investment of time into nature even more significant.
Partially or Fully Invested
When you are out in nature you can be checking out your smart phone, listening to music and chatting to people on the phone. There is nothing wrong with that and nature is a nice backdrop for all these activities. It is time in nature but you are not fully invested in nature while you are there. You may be getting exercise or going from point A to B but you are probably oblivious to alot of what is happening around you. If you are going to invest in nature consider whether that means spending time there doing other things or whether you intend to be fully invested in your surroundings. Some of benefits of an investment into nature can only be realized if you spend some of that time fully invested in what is happening around you.
There are alot of investments you can make that are cause for regret afterwards. When you invest time into nature you don't regret it.
Return on Investment
Does investing time into nature benefit the investor in the long term? Some aging research suggests that one of the keys to a long life (100+) is spending a good amount of time in nature gardening, walking, exploring and so on. That is only one type of benefit you might expect and perhaps not even the most important.
What benefit a person derives from investing in nature is a deeply personal issue. What benefits I get out of it, and what benefits you get out of it, don't have to be the same.
One of the benefits I get out of nature, for example, is the experience of natural beauty for which there is no substitute. Like this Icy Splendor I encountered exploring a new walking path last weekend.
Nature Is All Around You
Nature pervades everything. Nature may be more difficult to recognize in the city but it is still omnipresent. Nature interfaces more with the built environment in the city than in the country and this interfacing is often quite interesting to observe. For example, the reservoir for our town water supply drains into a concrete spillway that takes it to a structure designed to slow the water down before it merges back into a stream. This video, which I call, Interface, illustrates how the built and natural merge in an interesting way.
You can invest your time into traveling the world in search of the next natural wonder to explore or you can be like Henry David Thoreau who said "I have traveled a good deal in Concord". Within a 50 mile (80 km) radius of where you live there are likely many areas you have never explored and it may take a lifetime to fully explore all of nature in that area. It may take some planning to find new local places to explore and visit but that is also what it means to invest in nature.
Investing locally is often viewed as a good thing. Investing your time exploring nature in your local area can be the foundation of any monetary investing into nature you may ultimately decide to do. Investing time into nature as the foundation for investing money into nature.
A Holiday Mantra
Lately I have been using the phrase "invest in nature" as a mantra to remind me to get out and do things in nature and to reflect on how I want to spend that time. I'm especially excited to have a few days off over the holidays to explore nature without the rush to get back to work. Maybe you can use the mantra "invest in nature" over the holidays to remind you to devote some time to getting outside to enjoy and learn about nature. You will have no regrets over the holidays if you invest time into experiencing nature.