Waxing lyrical about our beautiful habitats

Waxing lyrical about our beautiful habitats

At a time where our connection to nature is waning every day, but our fears for our natural world increase with every news report, art can be a wonderful medium. This September, 26 Writers are back with a beautiful literary focus on our stunning habitats.

Art enables many of us to find a way to articulate both hopes and fears, offering creative outlets to help people try to make sense of, and respond to, the interlinked climate and nature crises.

The Wildlife Trusts' believe in hope, and that people are the answer.

So our ongoing partnership with the writer’s group 26 has been a joy to be part of! 26 is a not-for-profit organisation for writers and anyone who believes in the power of words. Many of its members are authors, business writers, journalists, communication specialists and designers. All are united in the aim to champion the importance of words in all aspects of life. 26 has created dozens of online works, published books, and exhibition projects celebrating and exploring the power and potential of words. Its name reflects the 26 letters in the English alphabet – the DNA of language.

We are delighted that our first collaboration in 2020 - #26Wild - has blossomed into a brand new project for 2021 - this time a trilogy of works, which includes an international element too!

From animals, to habitats, to people, and back again

In September 2020 our first partnership piece bound into life online, two by two, as #26Wild. This was a month-long online exhibition by 52 writers, that were matched by us with 26 at-risk animals in the UK. Each writer researched their matched species over the summer of 2020 – doing what they could during a global pandemic and national lockdown - and took up the challenge of writing a poem of exactly 100 words, called a centena, that considered the possibility of that species’ permanent loss.

A blue shark swims through the ocean, sunlight glinting off its scales

#26Wild could have ended there. But the added bonus of this beautiful collection of words, was that the next chapter of the story was filled with hope when along with their centena, each writer produced a 400-word essay framed around the notion that species can recover, if they are given the chance.

A year on, and the world has irrevocably changed for us all. But 26 have curated yet another beautifully moving and inspiring programme of works, which aims this time to shine a light on the threats facing our diverse habitats, as well as the role of their restoration in helping to combat climate change and the decline of wildlife. There is a close connection between the disappearance of wild species and the loss of natural habitat. Each day #26Habitats will build up into a unique anthology which responds to the habitat and climate crises – and reflects how central nature is to climate recovery.

Echoing the format of #26Wild, a #26Habitats poem will be released every day. And this year, each centena is given an extra special element with original art by designer Lydia Thornley. Her gently powerful illustrations add even more depth to each piece. Read an interview with Lydia here. 

As the UK gears up to host the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow this November 26Habitats is a timely creative response to a crisis that humanity no longer faces; we’re in it.

But 26Habitats is just the first in a trilogy of interlinked creative writing projects from this partnership for 2021. In October we will launch 26Pledges, where more writers reflect on the work of 26Habitats and explore how they can have a personal impact on the climate and biodiversity crises. The trilogy culminates with an international dimension in November, coinciding with the start of the COP26 Climate Conference, when New Zealand writers of 26 launch their own unique response to 26Habitats, with a focus on New Zealand’s priority endangered environments such as drylands and offshore islands.

#26Habitats poems and accompanying creative pieces are published daily from 1 September on their website, and on Twitter and Instagram

Take a look at the first poems in this stunning series:

Glorious grasslands

Grasslands are so important for wildlife - the sheer importance of wildflowers can be spellbinding! They're also an important carbon store. 

More about grasslands

Powerful peatlands

Peatlands are amazingly wild places, home to rare and unusual plants, birds and insects. 

Dive into peatlands

Peter Cairns/2020VISION