Last week as I was sitting quietly in the middle of a forest that’s been designated as a nature reserve, I couldn’t help thinking about the number of people out walking there, who seemed totally oblivious to their surroundings, walking through not really looking around and talking in very loud voices to their companions. It’s something that I’ve observed many times in many different places, and is actually the concept behind my PhD. Why are they there? The scenery was fantastic; a little like I’d imagine it would be walking through a jungle. The sounds were amazing, the nearest road being several miles away meant that, apart from the occasional passing aeroplane, there was a near total absence of any anthropogenic noise.
Nature seems to be quite sensitive to our intrusion. I find that it takes a good few minutes from my arriving in a location, and sitting quietly before the wildlife there becomes accustomed to my presence, and starts to move about and make sound again. A similar thing occurs when people walk through where I’m recording, everything stops and goes quiet. The people generally tend to be behaving as if they’re walking along a busy and noisy high street. Surely the whole point of them being there is to experience the intrinsic natural qualities of that particular place?