26 and the climate emergency

26 is a not-for-profit organisation for writers and anyone who believes in the power of words. Many of us work with words for a living – as business writers, authors, journalists, communication specialists, poets and designers – but we welcome anyone who cares about words and writing.

26 was founded in 2003 by seven writers who wanted to champion the importance of words in all aspects of life. We chose the name 26 because there are 26 letters in the English alphabet – the DNA of language.

Today, there is no issue more urgent than the climate emergency. Which is why, between September and November 2021, more than 70 of our members – from the UK and New Zealand – came together to create a body of work that highlights the extraordinary diversity of habitats on our planet and to explore what we, as part of that ecosystem, might lose if we lose them.

About 26 Habitats

In 2020, we partnered with The Wildlife Trusts for a project called 26 Wild. Our members wrote about endangered species in the UK and it became clear to us that most of the problems with vulnerable wildlife were caused by human degradation of natural realms and habitats.

So we agreed that habitats should be the focus for 2021’s project. The Wildlife Trusts selected habitats distinctive to the UK and 26 writers visited one of the habitats and penned a poem of exactly 100 words, called a centena, and an essay.

Here are the 13 UK habitats that The Wildlife Trusts chose: coast/beach, deciduous woodland, fenland/peatland, freshwater, gardens, heathland, hedgerows, meadow/unimproved grassland, raised bog/blanket bog, saltmarsh, seagrass meadows, urban greenspaces and wetlands.

Graphic designer and 26 member Lydia Thornley contributed beautiful illustrations for each habitat.

26 Habitats will run throughout September 2021.

About The Wildlife Trusts

The Wildlife Trusts are making the world wilder and helping to ensure that is nature part of everyone’s lives. It is a grassroots movement of 46 charities with more than 850,000 members and 38,000 volunteers. No matter where you are in Britain, there is a Wildlife Trust inspiring people and saving, protecting and standing up for the natural world. With the support of its members, it cares for and restores special places for nature on land and runs marine conservation projects and collects vital data on the state of our seas. Every Wildlife Trust works within its local community to inspire people to create a wilder future – from advising thousands of landowners on how to manage their land to benefit wildlife, to connecting hundreds of thousands of school children with nature every year. 

On supporting 26 Habitats, Kathryn Brown, Director of Climate Action at The Wildlife Trusts, says: “In 2021, the whole world has seen the effects of increasingly extreme weather, on nature and on people. In amongst all of the data, trends and projections, it can be easy to forget the cultural and emotional value the natural environment holds for people, everywhere, and the connection that all humans have with nature. We’ve seen, too, throughout the Covid pandemic how important nature is to people, but also how fragile it is. We mustn’t lose sight of that, alongside what the science is telling us. Through original art and words that tell this equally heartbreaking and inspirational story, ’26 Habitats’ brings all this to the fore beautifully.”

The Wildlife Trusts want to see at least 30% of our land and seas recovering by 2030. Find out how you can help them campaign for that wilder future.

About 26 Pledges

In a second part of the project 28 other writers dug deeper into the issues raised by the 26Habitats writers and made personal pledges of individual actions they would take – spurred particularly by the approach of COP26, the global conference on climate change to be held in Glasgow in November.

About 26 Habitats New Zealand

Meanwhile on the other side of the world, 26’s chapter of writers in New Zealand embarked on a similar project based on the habitats that are crucial for them. Climate change is an issue affecting the whole planet. 26 partnered with New Zealand charity Forest & Bird.

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