An Enforced ‘Stop and Think’

Despite the recent sunshine and gradual relaxations of some aspects of lockdown, it’s clear we have a long way to go before we emerge from the waters of COVID. However, with each government announcement inching us closer to a version of normality, we reflect on what the pandemic has taught us about our business practices, ways of working and integrating with the planet around us, and the positives and lessons we look to take into the future.

The immediate business response to COVID-19 saw approximately 25% of businesses close (some temporarily, others permanently), and the Financial Times recorded that 21,000 more companies failed in March 2020 than the year before. The overall economic impact is not going to be truly understood until businesses are once again operating without the limits of social distancing and it has been assessed how many closed businesses were able to reopen, and how many sadly had to close for good.

This all paints for a rather gloomy economic picture, and the devastation caused by COVID worldwide should not be trivialised. However, while businesses struggle and countless families are affected by the disease, there have been some tremendous positives in the natural world from a lack of human activity and reduced travel. Within a few weeks, there were reports that the canals in Venice were clearing, air pollution decreased enough in Northern India that the Himalayan mountain range was becoming visible (for the first time in living memory, from certain places) and many European cities have reported a drop in the concentration of deadly nitrogen dioxide in the air. China – one of the most polluted countries in the world – reported that their carbon emissions had fallen by around 25% over the first 4 weeks of the country shutting factories. With the heart of Nicholsons immersed in the natural world, COVID presented us with a unique – and completely unexpected – opportunity to embrace our role as Curators of the Countryside.

The pandemic has also driven the forestry industry to come together and address the very real need to plant more trees in the interests of sequestering carbon and improving the ecology and the environment.