The Ecologist

Image © Joe Cornish/2020VISION (AA Publishing £25)
More articles about
Related Articles

Repair, Rebuild, Reconnect

Peter Cairns

November 22nd, 2012

The banking collapse will pale alongside the cost of our ecosystems unravelling

For decades, conservation has been about protecting individual species or specific habitats – a rare bird here, some grassland there. Nothing wrong with that, but the focus has been on preserving what fragments of Nature we have left and then putting a fence around them.
As a consequence, Nature has become separate from our ‘normal’ lives, a commodity almost. If you want to ‘do’ some Nature, you drive to a nature reserve before returning to ‘civilisation’. We’ve got it all a bit skewed.

2020VISION promotes a fresh, more ambitious approach to conservation, an approach that seeks to repair, rebuild and reconnect those fragment islands of Nature – to reinvigorate whole ecosystems, which stretch way beyond Nature reserves. Let’s be straight: this is not our idea. Scientists, conservation groups and governments are now promoting the idea of ‘rewilding’, where whole landscapes are able to function more effectively, not only for the benefit of wildlife, but for us too. So 2020VISION is essentially an advertisement for rebuilding ecosystems.

What’s an ecosystem? Well, we could debate all day, but when it comes down to it an ecosystem is a home.

We know our project won’t change the world overnight; there is no magic wand, no silver bullet. It’s part of a process, a cultural process to inspire a wide range of people about the true value of a healthy, robust environment – one that supplies us with so many things that we don’t even think about. Clean air, fresh water, flood prevention, crop pollination, even somewhere nice to walk the dog: these are all free ‘services’ that Nature provides, and a lot more besides.

Our job as photographers, then, is to make the most compelling case possible for the rebuilding of our natural home. And to do this, we enlisted 20 of the UK’s top Nature photographers to cover 20 flagship projects up and down the country, giving them 20 months to get the job done.

The result is a collection of stunning original images designed to challenge the public’s perception of conservation.

Even more significantly, 2020 is now the next target for halting biodiversity loss, and a year that will signal a new generation of decision makers who will inherit the legacy of what we do or don’t do today.

The images, film and sound gathered by the 2020 Vision team now form part of a travelling exhibition. To find out more visit

Peter Cairns is the project coordinator for 2020VISION: Big Ideas to Rebuild Our Natural Home (AA Publishing, £25).


Previous Articles...


Using this website means you agree to us using simple cookies.

More information here...




Help us keep the Ecologist platform going

Since 2012, the Ecologist has been owned and published by a small UK-based charity called the Resurgence Trust. We work hard to support the kind of independent journalism and comment that we know Ecologist readers enjoy but we need your help to keep going. We do all this on a very small budget with a very small editorial team and so joining the Trust or making a donation will show us you value our work and support the platform which is currently offered as a free service.

Join The Resurgence TrustDonate to support the Resurgence Trust