Listen to this article
Taking care of nature can be a job full of incredible landscapes and constant sightings of animals, but it also includes the tedium of any bureaucracy
When I worked in the Los Alerces National Park, now a World Heritage Site, visitors used to tell me that my job was ideal: I lived in one of the most beautiful corners of the Argentinian Patagonia and dedicated myself to the conservation of nature and to connecting people with wildlife. What more could I ask of life?
Needless to say, often what we imagine differs from what happens. Most tourists visit Patagonia in summer and do not even suspect (or idealize) what it means to spend the winter in a remote place, with temperatures below zero, intense winds and frequent snowfall. However, it is also fair to recognize that being in daily contact with lakes, forests, mountains, and glaciers is a luxury that not everyone can afford, and that more than compensates for the hostile climate that characterizes Patagonia.
What is the attraction of working to conserve nature?
In my opinion, the conservation of nature can represent an ideal work for at least two reasons: a) it is a privilege to have frequent contact with nature, since we need it even psychologically (that's why cities have green spaces, and houses have gardens and plants); b) working to preserve nature gives transcendent meaning to our existence, since wildlife is essential to ensure human survival and the protection of nature contributes to the wellbeing of the population.
Despite the reasons given, the love for nature can lose its magic when it becomes a bunch of files that are processed daily from a city office and get lost between bureaucratic twists and turns, without achieving an improvement of the environmental reality (or even worse, since the papers used in the proceedings involve the cutting down of trees). It is then that the noble cause of the love for wildlife and the struggle for its preservation gives way to a routine and uninhibited employment, a kind of marriage (between the worker and nature) undermined by boredom and routine.
Working on what you love does not mean that you love everything you do
I agree with Steve Jobs that "the only way to do a great job is to love what you do". However, we know that almost all work has its part of tedium or unwanted tasks, especially when it comes to public employment. In this sense, working to conserve nature is not reduced, in most cases, to rescue animals or plant trees, but involves the writing of notes and reports, the confrontation with those who only see in nature a set of resources to exploit and even the divergence of criteria between people working in teams to preserve wildlife.
The challenge: to make the conservation of nature a rewarding job
In my opinion, a key aspect for this job to make sense is for workers to maintain frequent contact with nature they want to preserve, since it serves as inspiration and helps to focus on relevant goals. For the rest, I think it is not enough to defend wildlife, but it is also important to spread its beauty and value, and facilitate contact with nature so that the population knows about it and contributes to its preservation.
Although many people get along better with animals than with their peers, it is undoubtedly man, as a species, the main enemy of wildlife. Human nature can be against nature and also against the quality of work, even in a national park where harmony always seems to reign. The possibility of getting excited and finding a balance between human desires, sometimes arbitrary and self-centered, and the needs of nature depends on each worker, so that environmental work is rewarding and truly contributes to the noble purpose of protecting the planet where we live
LatinAmerican Post | Jorge Guasp
Translated from "Conservación de la naturaleza: ¿un trabajo apasionante o un empleo más?"