About the event
Remembrance Day for Lost Species, November 30th, is a chance each year to explore the stories of species, cultures, lifeways and habitats driven extinct by human activity. It emphasises that these losses are rooted in violent, racist and discriminatory practices. It provides an opportunity for people to renew commitments to all that remains, and supports the development of creative and practical tools of resistance.
The day was conceived by the Brighton-based arts charity ONCA and is observed by a range of artists, activists and community groups. You can participate in the day by holding or joining any kind of memorial to lost species or places. This could take the form of an art project, a procession, lighting a candle, planting a tree, or any kind of action you like.
How to approach it
According to WWF's 2014 Living Planet Report vertebrate species on Earth have been reduced by half since 1970. This figure is closely related to the expansion of industrialised society and forms part of what is now called the Biodiversity crisis. With the expansion of industrialised farming, resource extraction and urbanisation our planet’s rich ecosystems are being constricted and destabilised. The crucial point of this day is to make the link between these modern ways of life and the mass extinction of our wildlife.
However, it's also important to approach this day in a way that minimises the potential for anxiety among students. For adults, there is a place for anger and for strategizing. On the other hand, students should focus less on what we have lost and more on how we should act differently in the future.
You could introduce this day by talking about some famous extinct species such as the Dodo, or the Tasmanian Tiger, both of which were hunted to extinction by European colonists. Talk about this issue like a moral tale, to show the bad effect that people can have when they don’t treat animal species with respect. You could also refer to modern examples like the struggling bee populations due to pesticides or overfishing of the oceans.
Use these examples as the introduction to this issue and move onto asking: how can we treat the natural world better? How do we avoid losing other animals? The answer is that these animals were treated as expendable, as things to be used for the benefits of humans. Work with your class to decide what actions are respectful and mutually beneficial for humans and animals. Good answers are using less pesticides, protecting wild land, regenerating natural areas and maintaining a stable climate.
This day we remember all the animals that have become extinct. We should also think of the animals we can save. Bee populations are declining in the UK. How can you make your school more bee friendly?