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Call for leaders in tune with Nature
09 May 2011
Guy Rogers

A CLARION call for “personal and ecological leadership” was issued at a biodiversity celebration function at Kirstenbosch on Thursday night. The call was issued by the psychologist, writer and specialist wilderness guide Dr Ian McCullum – who is also a former Springbok rugby player and a guest lecturer at NMMU business school.

Speaking during his keynote address at the function, McCallum said mankind’s treatment of the natural world has resulted in a series of crises ranging from climate change to species extinction and he himself is now “staring down the barrel”.

Social problems like substance abuse and suicide are increasing and often these can be related to a “disconnection from Nature and a loss of a sense of belonging”, he said.

Earlier in the evening, a landmark exhibition titled Untamed was unveiled in an eco-shrine  set beneath the mountain specially designed by top architect Enrico Daffoncio. The exhibition features bronze sculptures by acclaimed sculptor Dylan Lewis, blending human and animal forms, together with poems by McCallum.

Referring to the exhibition, McCullum said it was “about home-coming and hope”.

“The problem is that at the moment a lot of our leaders are some of the biggest environmental culprits dare I say criminals as far as environmental destruction is concerned.”

Nature needs a fair share not only for itself, he said, but for the ecological services it provides. These include buffering against floods and fires, creating jobs in tourism and environmental public works, providing a resource for sustainable agriculture and improving water supply.

“So what we need on one level is to bring back nature conservation as a subject at schools and to include it in every subject at university.  Our wonderful philosophy of ubuntu which says ‘I exist because of you’ needs to be extended to recognise as well that ‘I exist because of the whole of Nature’.”

On another level, there is a great need for leaders to step forward in South Africa, he said.

“So this is a call for personal and ecological leadership.”

 



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