Guest blog: Meet Sustainable Stephanie

What is your name and what do you do?

Hi, my name is Stephanie Tudgey, I currently work as an Environmental Advisor for a FTSE 250 organisation based in the UK. The role of an Environmental Advisor certainly provides plenty of variety. One day I may be in the office interpreting environmental law, and the next, I will find myself in the middle of a field surveying for protected species like badgers and bats!

Naturally, being an environmentalist isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle, so in my spare time, with an aim to increase awareness of key environmental and conservation issues, I share a number of topical articles on my instagram @sustainable_stephanie and website www.sustainablestephanie.com.

2. When did you first become interested in the natural world and environment?

I’m afraid it’s a rather cliche answer, but like many other conservationists, I have Sir David Attenborough to thank for sparking my interest in the natural world. Documentaries like ‘Blue Planet’, ‘Planet Earth’ and ‘Life of Mammals’ opened my eyes at a very early age to the Earth’s remarkable ecosystems.

Watching Planet Earth II last year, 10 years since the release of the original, was a real privilege and allowed me to reflect on the global environmental progress that has been achieved. However, at the same time, it reminded me of the huge challenges that we face and also the species that we have lost in this incredibly short amount of time.

I am so excited that today, the BBC released a trailer for Blue Planet II, I am sure that this series won’t disappoint and really hope that issues such as plastic pollution, coral bleaching and over fishing will be communicated.

3. What is your favourite animal and why?

Although not endangered, my favourite animal without a doubt, is the largest rodent in the world, the Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris). This aquatic rodent, native to South America, is usually found in a group sitting by a river bank, grazing mainly on grasses, aquatic plants, as well as fruit and tree bark.

 

I’m so fond of these magnificent creatures purely because they always look so regal with their snouts often elevated in the air, as if they are saying to all other species ‘I’m the King of the rainforest’. Although sadly, they’re not, and are a favourite food of jaguar, puma, eagle, ocelot, and anaconda.

4. How do you view the current state of the natural world and the environment?

I see the state of the natural world as fragile, resting on the very edge of a tipping point. This view has been shaped by Rockstrom’s pioneering article ‘A Safe Operating Space for Humanity’, which demonstrates that we, a global nation, are living outside of our planetary boundaries.

What particularly alarms me, is that species are becoming extinct at a rate that has not been seen since the last global mass extinction event. Unless we make some drastic changes to reduce Global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, sadly, we’re well on track for a 6th global mass extinction before the end of the century.

5. What do you think is the biggest threat facing our natural world?

Personally, I believe that overconsumption is singlehandedly one of the biggest threats to some of our most precious ecosystems. Resources including fuel, water and food (especially meat and dairy) all require significant quantities of energy and land for extraction, growing, processing, manufacturing, distribution and disposal. It’s not only the physical fragmentation and destruction of habitats from clearing land that threatens our natural ecosystems, but the associated GHG emissions from the whole life cycle, that contribute towards global climate change, exerting further pressures on our natural world.

6. Do you have hope for the future and if you could change one thing about conservation what would it be?

If I could change one thing, it would be peoples perception of conservation. Sometimes, I get the impression that people think the purpose of conservation programmes are to protect a single species. In some projects, maybe this is correct, but in most cases, conservation projects, (especially those aimed at a keystone species) support the protection of whole ecosystems and their services. This is so much more than just protecting one animal or plant! It’s protecting the environment which provides us with benefits such as atmospheric regulation, nutrient cycling, tourism, food and medicine (the list continues).

Conservation and the state of our natural environment can sometimes be a pretty depressing topic, but surprisingly, I do have hope for the future. Since joining Instagram, I have come across a whole community of conservationists ranging from influential celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, to individuals completing their own beach clean. One thing I have realised, is that the only difference between these people are the number of followers they have. Both are environmentalists, and both are working towards the same common goal. No matter how big or little your contribution, I am confident that collectively, we can make a huge difference!

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Thanks for reading and if you liked my article, please don’t forget to check out @sustainable_stephanie and www.sustainablestephanie.com

I also highly recommend you read Rockstrom’s article ‘A Safe Operating Space for Humanity’. A summary is available on Nature here.