President's View: Renewed Hope for a New Year

Fostering healthier ecosystems and communities where wildlife and people can thrive

  • Collin O’Mara President & CEO of the National Wildlife Federation
  • Conservation
  • Feb 01, 2021

Collin O’Mara (right) and his wife and daughters—along with Ranger Rick—enjoy a Delaware park.

IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE that a year has passed since the start of the pandemic. For my family, and for tens of millions of Americans, spending time in nature has provided the perfect respite for exercise, connection and serenity. 

There’s growing evidence that many Americans during 2020 deepened their appreciation for nature, spending more time watching wildlife, enjoying hikes, gardening and supporting conservation. Some wildlife populations also benefited from the slowdown in human activity, being able to range more widely or experiencing reduced mortality as fewer cars and people moved across the planet. 

At the same time, factors in frontline communities—including unhealthy levels of air pollution, lack of clean water and insufficient access to health care—resulted in Black, Brown and Indigenous people suffering the highest rates of infection and fatality from the new coronavirus. 

As vaccines are distributed and the economy restarts, the question for all of us is: How do we best address public health inequities and retain the benefits of nature for wildlife and people?

The Federation’s work to reduce pollution has never been more important. In the coming years, we’ll redouble our efforts to clean up pollution in our air, waters and soils and to accelerate the transition to cleaner energy, vehicles, transit systems and infrastructure.

We’ll also continue to encourage people of all ages to make more time for nature. Through our Eco-Schools and Green Hour programs, for example, we offer activities that help parents and teachers engage kids with nature and the outdoors. And this spring, we’ll launch an exciting new program to make it easier than ever to garden for wildlife with native plants.

On the policy side, some of the most significant conservation victories of the past few years—especially the historic, bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act—will help expand access to open space and increase outdoor recreational opportunities across the country. And we’re promoting the creation of a 21st-century Civilian Conservation Corps that will put millions of young Americans to work restoring our natural resources, recovering wildlife populations and bolstering community resilience.

The aftermath of the pandemic of 2020 will likely shape society for years to come. We look forward to working together to ensure that the recovery restores our degraded natural resources, guarantees everyone access to healthier communities and ensures wildlife and people alike can thrive.

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More from National Wildlife magazine and the National Wildlife Federation:

The National Wildlife Federation Helping Families through the COVID-19 Outbreak »
NWF: Our Work »
Read Last Issue's President's View »

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