‘Very cool’: Ellie Goulding talks rebuilding as a cure for our planet – and our mental health | Rebuilding

I Just got back from a picnic in Hyde Park, headphones and Max Richter playing, after a sweltering 30°C day in London. I stopped in the middle of the road to take off my trainer and put my feet on the grass. This is where I often go when I need to breathe, not think.

I’ve been obsessed with nature since the days of making mud pies (and grass on the side), taking out stones to see worms and woodlice, and foraging for blackberries with the other kids in the village, often to make some sort of inedible fruity soup.

When I think about this special time in my childhood, I feel a deep sense, like losing someone. I discovered, at the age of five, that we were commuting from town to the middle of the Herefordshire countryside, somewhere on the border of Wales and England. I remember hating the idea. But it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me.

My background has been described several times as “modest,” and it has been. I often run away from my home for the quietness of the greenery around it. My friend Niall and I had been walking for hours, hoping to get lost, and with buses appearing infrequently we ended up knowing shortcuts in every field and fence. The way Kiri and Kurtan often hang out in a field [the BBC comedy] this country chime in with me.

Although I am not of a “privileged” breed, a good knowledge of the landscape has given me an attachment that is a kind of wealth. From an early age, I instinctively knew that my fate on this planet was inextricably linked with the fate of nature – with the fate of plants, animals and fungi.

What is rewilding?

Rewilding is the restoration of nature in places altered by human activity. From releasing apex predators such as jaguars and wolves to making space for native grasslands in urban areas, rewilding can happen on a big or small scale.
While there are competing definitions, most have the rebuilding of sustainable ecological health at their core, be it the return of kelp forests on the Sussex coast in England or the reintroduction of mockingbirds on the Galápagos Islands.

Why has the term become so popular?

Rewilding has captured the public’s imagination by being an environmental movement and a science-based process at the same time. With visions of a wilder planet, highprofile environmentalists such as David Attenborough and George Monbiot inspired millions with paths to a more biodiverse, ecologically healthy future. The success of rewilding pioneers around the world has shown what is possible: from the restoration of Gorongosa national park in Mozambique after the civil war to the Knepp estate in the south of England. 

Does rewilding have universal support?

No. Critics of rewilding fear that the term is being used to justify the removal of humans from the landscape, especially farmers and indigenous communities. In the UK, some have dismissed the concept as a fad for ‘toffs’ and landowners with vast incomes, while others fear it is being used to attack agricultural communities who have farmed areas for hundreds of years. 

Can you rewild?

While the boldest rewilding initiatives take place at a landscape scale, small changes can have a big impact. Millions of people changing how they mow their grass or let nature into their gardens, balconies and window sills can add up, providing more space for biodiversity to recover. 

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Quick guide

Rewinding: what is it?

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What is rewinding?

Reconstruction is the restoration of nature in places that human activity has altered. From releasing major predators like jaguars and wolves to making space for native grasslands in urban areas, rebuilding can occur on a large or small scale.
While there are competing definitions, most are rebuilding sustainable ecological health at its core, whether it’s the return of kelp forests on the Sussex coast in England or the reproduction of mockingbirds in the Galapagos.

Why has the term become so popular?

Reconstruction has captured the public’s imagination by being an environmental movement and a science-based process at the same time. With visions of a wild planet, highEnvironmentalists like David Attenborough and George Monbiot have inspired millions with pathways to a more biodiverse and environmentally healthy future. The success of rebuilding pioneers around the world showed what was possible: from the restoration of Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique after the civil war to the Kneipp estate in southern England.

Does rewinding have global support?

No, critics of reconstruction fear that the term is used to justify the removal of humans from the landscape, especially farmers and indigenous communities. In the UK, the concept has been dismissed by some as a fad for “reconciliation” and high-income landowners, while others fear it is being used to attack farming communities that have cultivated areas for hundreds of years.

Can you rebuild?

While the boldest rebuilding initiatives are undertaken on a landscape scale, small changes can have a big impact. Millions of people can change the way they mow their lawns or allow nature into their gardens, balconies, and window sills, providing more room for biodiversity to recover.

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I could feel it in my bones, and the era of “tree hugger” or “environmental warrior” is definitely over because we’re all in this ecological mess together, whether we feel connected to nature or not. We rely 100% on the amazing natural systems available in this biosphere. We know that in order to have clean water we need healthy forests; To balance the carbon, you need healthy seas, peat bogs, mangroves and seagrass. Nature is not just a beautiful sight. we be Nature – we depend on it.

Ellie Goulding, pictured at the Jacobshavn Glacier in Greenland
“Hearing the ice rift drove me intently to the climate crisis”: Ellie Goulding at the Jacobshavn Glacier in Greenland. Photo: Tristan Fewings/WWF/PA

It was natural for me to start talking about the destruction of nature and, in general, my fears and my hopes for this amazing planet: asking questions, holding people accountable, trying to open up the conversation. I called the crisis out loud – the climate and nature crisis – as many do, but in my industry no one was talking about it. The biggest threat to humanity… It was business as usual! It was totally strange.

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I just wanted it to be the headlines, as it always should have been. Now, we are in a pitiful place.

I noticed that anything I said regarding nature or the climate had repercussions for me. It seemed like saying out loud that I was afraid for our future was a big deal. Our plea to keep the forests intact, for example, was treated as if you had issued a huge political statement, and it started getting rid of followers on social media quickly. To really engage young people (rather than scare them), I had to change the narrative from panic and anger to ambition and optimism. Despair was not leading me anywhere. My followers have gone up again recently. Since I haven’t released music in a while, maybe something is going on!

In 2017, it became UN Environment Ambassador, which means I’ve had to go to scary conferences and give speeches to scientists and world leaders. terrible. As someone who suffers from public speaking phobia and chronic imposter syndrome, this has not been a fun process.

Ellie Goulding standing in a park holding a rose in front of her face
“We can reverse biodiversity loss.” Photo: Caspar Jopling/Handout

If I had not had such a strong connection with nature, I don’t think I would have been able to do it. My passion also comes from how much he saved me and was there for me when my mental health was poor It takes me to a dark place. This alone has given me a kind of legitimacy to speak out and muscle my way into discussions, in large part between the politicians who decide our future and the future of our children.

I traveled with the WWF (she has since become a WWF ambassador) to the Jacobshavn Glacier in Greenland. Watching the size and enormity of the glaciers and hearing the crack of ice was an enormous sensory burden and sobered me into the climate crisis.

Basically, what we’re doing to the planet is the equivalent of pointing a hair dryer at an ice cube sitting in warm water. But such comparisons do not seem to fade with people. As a songwriter and performer, I exchange feelings and sensations, so I got it. Storytelling is everything. How we communicate, we network, we empathize, we empathize.

I was fortunate enough to meet the scientists – who have only science and data and nothing more, no metaphors or wordplay, just facts – and I really felt their exasperation. They are on the front line, providing evidence to our politicians, who then try to negotiate with it, rather than really act.

My tactic now is to appear as often as possible armed with messages from scholars, and opinions and questions drawn from the people who follow me on social media. I am always aware of who is not in the room as much as there is. For us nature geeks, things are finally changing for the better. The official climatic process has ceased to treat nature and climate as two different problems.

in Cop26 in Glasgow In the past year I have been able to speak and meet a network of amazing environment ministers from around the world, from Kenya, Costa Rica and Ecuador, who mirror the tide of destruction, sometimes in very dangerous conditions. They support nature in a way we’ve never seen before. Canadian Environment Minister, Stephen Gilbolt, in and out of prison for environmental activity. lovable man! I am not saying that this happens everywhere, but we should not write off committed and talented people in politics who can overturn the system from ensuring the destruction of the natural world to its protection.

Although I am uncomfortable, this is nothing compared to the risks to the indigenous communities who do the most work and take the most risks. When I go to a summit or conference, I try to catch up with young activists from all over the world. in Stockholm +50I met young climate and environmental leaders who fled war zones and persecution to arrive at these meetings. Among them were people from the rainforest regions who had traveled for several days – including by canoe – just to listen to them. This level of risk and sacrifice is mind boggling.

Ellie Goulding speaking in Stockholm +50
Ellie Goulding speaking at Stockholm+50, where she met young activists from all over the world. Photo: charity

These are my heroes and allies. They are the people I want to represent me. It breaks my heart to think that young people, a demographic that includes my one-year-old son, could grow up without the kind of relationship with nature that I was fortunate to have. Which is why I’m so relieved to see re-twisting on the radar again. The idea that we can reverse biodiversity loss, provide the ecological jobs on which we all depend and create resilient local economies for us and our children – just by letting everything take its natural course once in a while – is pretty cool.

Nature can truly heal itself, if we allow it to. At the same time, if we really commit to immersing ourselves in it, it can work wonders for mental health.

I would say to anyone, by supporting Global Witness, WWF, Unep and the ambitious goals for it Revitalizing Europe by 2030 and protection At least 30% of the seasthere You areA gap in environmental activity. It is not separate from you, it is part of you. You really have a lot more power than you realize, and there’s no better time to seize it.

Be aware of your daily actions on how to be as earth friendly as possible. Talk to your friends, start groups, join local eco-communities, plan a nature walk, and get hooked. But above all else, stay in active hope.

There is still a lot we can go back to. We just need to keep fighting, and commit to this amazing planet we call our home.