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Having a naturally curious mind, I find every day to be interesting, some days more so than others. I often relish those times that prove to be more interesting than others, but there is no doubt that at times I would take pleasure in finding myself in less interesting times.
These ‘COVID times’ would be one of those! However, every cloud has a silver lining. I am enjoying sharing my home office with my son. I am taking great satisfaction in seeing several of the organisations I am involved in, responding to the COVID challenge, proving that they are flexible and responsive.
What will be some of the positives gained when we get through this crisis? A few that come to mind are:
My greatest frustration resulting from the COVID response is what I call ‘lazy policy setting’. We see again where governments have created policy based on the masses which does not work for or applicable to the minorities. To often Outback communities are victims of ‘lazy policy setting’.
Having the same lock down rules for high density living areas and for some of the lowest density population areas in the world simply does not make sense to me. If there was an infectious disease outbreak in Winton, would the government have locked down Brisbane?
By engaging remote community representatives, more practical rules could have been found for Outback communities.
What is our level of resilience? I am constantly amused – or perhaps ‘bemused’ – when I hear the term resilience used in so many contexts. I hardly think a player getting up after a big tackle demonstrates that they have great ‘resilience’, but football commentators do. Or a politician coming back after being defamed as being resilient, but political commentators do. I think the term resilience is so often used out of context that most people would not know what the correct context is!
You will find true resilience in the many small communities that have been through the summer’s fire storms. You will find true resilience in drought stricken rural communities. You will find true resilience walking through a children’s hospital ward. And we will find true resilience when we get through this COVID crisis.
There will be differing levels of resilience resulting in different lengths of time for individuals, families, communities, industries, governments and the global village to recover from this pandemic. It is not the time, in the midst of a crisis, to assess what we could have done to better prepare ourselves for the crisis, but rather to make a commitment to review, change and act when the crisis is over.
In the natural resource management sector, in which I predominantly work, I am seeing examples of great things being generated as a result of COVID.
One would be the PEW Charitable Trust led collaboration which is promoting the opportunity to deliver economic stimulus through environmental and agricultural programs. Another is Natural Resource Management Bodies yet again demonstrating that their capacity to act quickly and appropriately to a crisis is second to none. A third example is governments demonstrating that they can be flexible and considerate of the operational challenges that come with a crisis such as COVID.
On a lighter note, my good friend Jim Cavaye and I had the pleasure (mostly!) of walking the Coast to Coast track across the top of England last September. The walk took us through the Lakes District, Yorkshire Dales and Yorkshire Moors, 300km in all. I can highly recommend the walk but be ready for some strenuous activity!
A couple of things struck me about the walk. The country pubs are ‘warm’ and have great beer! England is a small country with a large population of 56 million people yet there are vast areas of it with very few people! The countryside is green, green and green.
Taking all these factors into account, what most struck me was the areas we walked through showed great harmony between production, conservation and recreation. It proved to me that these three pillars of sustainable natural resource management can co-exist!