If you didn't make any New Year's resolutions, if you've given up on the ones you made or if you want to add more to your list, make it a goal this year to devote yourself to nature. Getting out into nature is great for your health, learning about nature expands your knowledge and helping conserve natural areas and the species that live in them is vital to our planet's health. Here are some ideas on how you can appreciate and give back to nature in 2018:
Lend a helping hand
Volunteering is an excellent way to give back to and experience nature, as well as to meet others with similar passions and interests. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) hosts Conservation Volunteers events, such as invasive species removals and shoreline cleanups, which allow you to make a difference while acquiring hands-on conservation experience.
Become a citizen scientist
If you're curious about the natural world, why not become a citizen scientist? It's a wonderful way to help scientists and conservationists with their research and to improve your nature knowledge. Participating in local species surveys, for example, is a simple way to become a citizen scientist. Programs like eButterfly and PlantWatch help scientists monitor at-risk species and their habitats. NCC offers bioblitzes throughout the year through its Conservation Volunteers program.
Donate to conservation organizations
Consider supporting conservation organizations like the Nature Conservancy of Canada. By donating, you're helping support the conservation of important natural areas and the species that live there. NCC offers a number of donation options, including monthly gifts, single gifts, tributes and in memoriam gifts, e-cards and wedding tributes.
Be active in nature
Although it's now winter, don't let the frigid temperatures stop you from going outside and being active, whether it's cross-country skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, outdoor skating or snowshoeing. NCC has properties with spectacular snowshoeing trails, including Ontario's Happy Valley Forest, Alberta's Bunchberry Meadows and New Brunswick's Lincoln Wetland Nature Reserve. When spring returns, try hiking and biking on nature trails, camping, swimming in lakes or rivers, canoeing, kayaking or sailing. If you're wondering where to go, check out NCC's Nature Destinations across Canada.
Keep it native
Not only are native plants beautiful and diverse, they also provide birds and pollinators with better habitat than non-native plants. This spring, identify the non-native, invasive plants in your yard and replace them with native species.
Snap nature photos
The next time you head out on a nature outing, bring your phone or camera with you to capture photos of beautiful landscapes, animals or plants. Then, share them with your followers and conservation organizations on social media. If you're more savvy with the camera, consider offering your nature photography to help provide fresh images of flora, fauna and landscapes for the organization's use.
Watch nature documentaries
When the weather isn't cooperating or you just feel like staying in, appreciate and learn about nature from your couch by watching nature documentaries. Streaming sites like Netflix offer plenty of nature documentaries to choose from, including Planet Earth, Planet Earth II and Blue Planet.
Keep up with nature news
Stay on top of conservation and nature stories in the news. If you're on Twitter, follow a few news outlets, such as CBC Tech and Science, BBC Science News or Scientific American, and scroll through their feeds for stories that catch your eye. You can also read our monthly roundup of nature stories on our Land Lines blog.
Listen to nature-related podcasts
Next time you commute to work or school, listen to a podcast about nature. BBC and CBC Radio offer several to choose from. Then, share your knowledge about nature with family and friends to raise awareness about the importance of nature conservation.
If you want to completely disconnect from technology to enjoy nature, but still want to capture your surroundings, draw or paint a beautiful landscape, animal or plant. Bring art supplies with you, set up a spot where you can observe your object or scene of interest without disturbing it and paint the day away.
his post was written by Adam Hunter and originally appeared on the Nature Conservancy of Canada's blog, Land Lines.