How can the conservation sector – and all nature lovers – seek to encourage our better selves and those of the wider public? Framing Nature (and Common Cause for Nature before it) seeks to explore this question and find practical, unifying techniques for doing so. We do this in the firm knowledge that we can create a greener, fairer, more wildlife rich world if we work together.
This week we launched the Framing Nature Toolkit. Packed with activities, tools and advice, the toolkit aims to make our words work for wildlife.
The goal of conservation is to help the natural world thrive.
To do this we need the support of decision-makers and the public. Research has shown that framing—the language and associations around any given topic—plays a key role in gaining and maintaining support.
So our language is integral to our goals.
It is time to subject the language we use to the same level of scrutiny as other traditional conservation activities, such as managing the water levels on our nature reserves or understanding the population trends of threatened species.
You’re framing all the time.
Choosing to forefront ‘biodiversity’ over ‘wildlife’, puppies over badgers, or ‘protection of’ over ‘connection to’ nature are choices with implications. The different associations that are conjured up in the public imagination through these different frames have significant effects on the public response.
You can change your frame!
We hope this toolkit will help you to:
- Spot the jargon: Technical language and abbreviations can trap us in particular ways of thinking and distance us from non-expert groups.
- Define problems differently: The words you choose to use to describe the problems and issues you face at work will impact on the solutions you come up with.
- See framing everywhere! It is harder to think of something that isn’t ‘framing’ than something that is. Even your surroundings—your office layout, the signs in a nature reserve, and the location and surroundings of your meetings—are framing understanding and responses to nature. Are the frames you’re using helping or hindering?
If we communicate with an understanding of framing we are more likely to convince, motivate and inspire others to help our cause.
We have filled this toolkit with exercises and examples to enable you to put framing into practice. If you want to get stuck into more of the theory that this toolkit draws on check out our earlier publication Common Cause for Nature.
Latest Framing Nature posts:
Creating and maintaining a sustainable, wildlife-rich world requires active, concerned citizens and a political system capable of rising to the challenge. Governments, businesses and the public will need the space and motivation to make the right choices. The UK conservation sector is large and well-resourced yet, as the recent State of Nature report attests, biodiversity is still in decline. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.
Where is the public concern and political will to address these issues?
In 2012, thirteen UK conservation organisations – including WWF-UK, the John Muir Award, RSPB and CPRE – came together to commission an analysis of the values they promote in their work. Led by PIRC, academic researchers from Lancaster University, Royal Holloway, and Essex University carried out innovative linguistic analysis of six months of external communications of these organisations. The analysis was supplemented by interviews, surveys and workshop discussion with those in the conservation sector. Today sees the release of the resulting report.