Colcom Foundation recently launched a new page on its website entitled “Access to Nature.” The page is dedicated to shedding light on the nature deprivation problem and the human need to access nature, which the Foundation argues is a basic right.
It is undeniable that humans, like all other species, have their origins in the wild. Our connection to nature runs deep, as our brains, bodies, and senses have developed in harmony with the natural world’s shapes, sounds, and rhythms.
But in today’s fast-paced, urbanized world, access to nature is becoming increasingly limited, and a vast number of individuals are deprived of this vital connection.
The numbers speak for themselves: According to Colcom Foundation, over 50% of the global population now resides in urban areas, and this figure is projected to reach nearly 70% by 2050.
One hundred million people in the United States alone do not have a green space within a 10-minute walk from their homes. This imbalance not only hinders their ability to experience the physical and mental benefits of nature but also affects their overall quality of life.
Scientific studies have consistently demonstrated the transformative power of nature on human health and well-being.
Research shows that individuals living in low tree-density neighborhoods are 30% more likely to require anti-depressants, while city dwellers face a 20% higher risk of anxiety disorders and a 40% higher risk of mood disorders compared to those in rural areas.
Colcom Foundation contends that nature deprivation is driven by two significant trends: human population growth and urbanization.
As our population expands, we encroach upon the habitats of other species. The practice of monocropping has led to the transformation of the ecosystem and the decimation of native species. The once-thriving landscapes with hundreds of native plant and vertebrate species are replaced by vast fields of corn or dominated by livestock such as cows and chickens.
Urbanization, while offering higher-density living and improved land use efficiency through towering structures, presents challenges in terms of access to nature. To accommodate the growing human population, large swaths of land are being paved over or covered with artificial surfaces, erasing the natural world we depend on at an alarming rate. While efforts may be made to mitigate ecosystem damage, an increasing number of individuals find themselves unable to access or enjoy natural environments.
Even in cases where greenspaces and adequate transportation exist in or near urban areas, the higher the population density, the more crowded and limited these accessible greenspaces become. The consequence is that individuals must venture farther away to find uncrowded natural settings, resulting in diminished access to nature.
This unfortunate reality highlights the need to address the growing disparity between urbanization and nature accessibility. The diminishing availability of natural spaces in urban environments means that individuals are increasingly disconnected from the restorative benefits of nature.
In 2022, The United Nations General Assembly made history by passing a resolution declaring that every individual has the right to a “clean, healthy and sustainable environment,” recognizing the urgent threats of climate change and environmental degradation.
The resolution was passed at UN headquarters in New York City, and while it is not legally binding, it is expected to encourage countries to enshrine the right to a healthy environment in their national constitutions and regional treaties, empowering environmental activists to challenge harmful policies and projects.
Pennsylvania has already passed a constitutional amendment guaranteeing citizens the right to “clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment..” These legal changes empower citizens to hold governments accountable and address pressing environmental challenges.
Recognizing a healthy environment as a constitutional right enables individuals to challenge environmentally destructive policies under well-defined rights legislation. While national laws exist to limit pollution, protect biodiversity, and combat climate change, their full implementation and enforcement often fall short. Declaring a healthy environment as a basic right reinforces the importance of upholding environmental standards and provides a powerful catalyst for action.
It is crucial to recognize the importance of preserving existing greenspaces, as well as creating new opportunities for people to experience the tranquility and rejuvenation that nature provides. By doing so, we can ensure that future generations have access to the wonders of the natural world and mitigate the adverse effects of nature deprivation on human well-being.
As a philanthropic organization deeply committed to addressing the detrimental effects of human activities on the environment, Colcom Foundation supports a wide range of initiatives that safeguard and restore diverse ecosystems and ensure the preservation of natural landscapes that are essential for human well-being.
By providing grants to organizations that protect land, Colcom Foundation helps to maintain the ecological balance and conserve the habitats of countless plant and animal species.
Colcom Foundation recognizes the importance of incorporating green spaces into urban environments, despite the challenges posed by urbanization. By advocating for and investing in urban forestry projects, the Foundation aims to create and enhance greenspaces in cities, offering residents the opportunity to experience the benefits of nature even in densely populated areas.
Environmental stewardship is another pillar of Colcom Foundation’s work. The Foundation supports initiatives that promote responsible and sustainable practices, emphasizing the need for individuals, communities, and industries to minimize their ecological footprint.
By encouraging environmentally conscious actions, Colcom Foundation strives to ensure the long-term health and vitality of our natural resources.
In addition to their conservation efforts, Colcom Foundation recognizes the critical role of human population stabilization in preserving the natural world. The Foundation supports projects and organizations that work towards addressing population growth in a sustainable manner, emphasizing the importance of finding a balance between human needs and the well-being of the planet.
Through its initiatives and partnerships, Colcom Foundation has served as a catalyst for change, inspiring other organizations and individuals to join the fight for equal access to nature.
The tireless advocacy work of the Foundation has made it a crucial link in the fight for the survival of the planet and the health of its inhabitants.