Sports and nature are intrinsically linked
Outdoor sport is an activity that readily connects us with our natural environment. This very connection helps us become aware of our relationship, as human beings, with nature. This connection also influences how much we care for nature, and our desire to protect it.
Nature is the playing field for sport at all levels, from grassroots to elite competitions. Whether it is sailing, surfing, skiing, climbing, or simply jogging around the neighbourhood, clean air and water, a stable climate and healthy food are essential elements for practising sports.
However, our planet’s ecosystems are under pressure, which affects the practice of a variety of sports activities. In turn, sport communities have a duty to care for and protect the environment, which provides the setting for their sporting activities to take place.
It is increasingly clear that we need to protect and restore biodiversity in natural and urban settings, so that both sport and nature can continue to thrive in the future.
Responsibility of Sport towards Nature
It’s important to understand how to minimise impacts on nature, as participation in outdoor sports continues to grow. It is essential for sports enthusiasts to show respectful behaviour towards nature and encourage the same in others.
Although we often see the relationship between an individual connection with nature, and wide-scale phenomena, such as climate change, as separate issues, they are connected.
The COVID-19 pandemic has served to highlight the connection between people and nature, and the role of physical activity in natural settings in helping to increase our resilience through active lifestyles, and in boosting society’s ability to deal with public health challenges.
Sport offers so many benefits, and has a great power to promote change
Sport offers many benefits in addition to physical activity. Sport promotes good health and wellbeing, provides social contact, and offers an opportunity to experience intense challenges, excitement, adventure, individual achievement and team spirit.
Outdoor sport connects people with each other in ways like few other activities can, and it also connects people with nature, creates a deep bond and increased environmental awareness.
Sport is also strongly unifying, at an individual level, as well as at a societal level through the emotion it covey. Athletes and sportspersons can act as role models, and can take the lead to share and amplify environmental messages. Sport is a powerful way to raise awareness of the importance of conserving biodiversity.
Sport communities can help foster a transition to more environmentally sustainable behaviour.
There is a growing movement in sport to collaborate and advance environmental awareness. Change is happening at many levels, but for a consistent long-term impact that is positive for nature, we still have a lot more to do.