I have just completed the 12-week Ambios course and wanted to take a minute to reflect on what I have learnt. It has been a real awakening – I have been astonished to find out what I didn’t know about the natural world and wonder how I could have reached my 60s without knowing what is beneath my feet and above my head.
It is said that you cannot see something until it has a name – this certainly seems true of plants. I have hiked for years and thought I had a reasonable knowledge of trees and plants. But on my first day of plant ID with Mike, our wonderful educator and botany supremo, I saw plants that I had never even noticed before and, with the help of a simple hand lens, saw their beautiful detail and stunning architecture for the first time. We learnt how to identify them, how they can act as indicators of ecosystem health and, in our nature connection sessions, we learnt about their amazing medicinal properties and associated folklore.
This process of revelation was repeated again and again during the course as we learnt about fungi, bats, bees, moths, compost, small mammals, birds – the list goes on and on. All the course leaders and guest tutors engaged and inspired us with their huge knowledge and infectious enthusiasm. Seeing slime mould and hearing the echolocating calls of bats for the first time are experiences I will never forget! Looking in details at natural habitats and understanding the huge human impacts on the land was another moment of revelation. As the course progressed all the separate pieces of new information fell into place and, like a puzzle, the bigger picture started to emerge. I slowly began to understand the radical and hopeful restorative potential of rewilding and natural processes.
Thanks to my time at Ambios, the scales have fallen from my eyes, and, in a very good way, I will never see our natural world in the same way again. I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity – better late than never!
Thank you to everyone at Ambios for this amazing experience.