Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust patron, Sir David Attenborough, and actors Stephen Fry, Catherine Tate, Alison Steadman and Asim Chaudhry have backed a new campaign from The Wildlife Trusts that calls for nature’s recovery in the UK. The broadcaster and conservationist, and actors have starring roles in a new The Wind in the Willows film trailer which brings to life the 21st century threats facing the much-loved characters from Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic. The animated trailer calls on everyone to help bring our wildlife back before it’s too late, so that we can all enjoy a wilder future.
The film trailer shows how the lives of Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad are disrupted by roads, river pollution and intensive agriculture – many habitats have been destroyed and others have been broken up.
Kenneth Grahame wrote The Wind in the Willows just over a hundred years ago. Since then, many of the UK’s wild places and the plants and animals that depend on them have been lost. For example: 97% of lowland meadows and the beautiful wildflowers, insects, mammals and birds that they supported have disappeared; 80% of our beautiful purple heathlands have vanished – with their bilberries, sand lizards and the stunning nocturnal birds, nightjars. Rivers are in deep trouble too: only 20% are considered as healthy and 13% of freshwater and wetland species in Great Britain are threatened with extinction.
Kenneth Grahame’s Ratty – the water vole – is the UK’s most rapidly declining mammal and has been lost from 94% of places where they were once prevalent, and their range is continuing to contract. Toad is also finding that times are very tough: he has lost nearly 70% of his own kind in the last 30 years alone – and much more than that in the last century.
These losses have led to the UK becoming one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. Over the past ten years there have been numerous reports and studies documenting wildlife declines in the UK.
The main problems for wildlife are:
“It is desperately sad that so much of our country’s wildlife has been lost since Kenneth Grahame wrote his wonderful book “The Wind in the Willows”. Of all the characters in the book it is hard to know whose descendants have suffered the most.
“The Wildlife Trusts have worked tirelessly to slow wildlife’s decline and to save our remaining wild places. Without The Wildlife Trusts our country would be the poorer. But there is much more to be done. This country of nature lovers needs to give its wildlife every chance to survive, thrive and expand its range.
“I am backing The Wildlife Trusts’ campaign to rally people to secure a “wilder future” by restoring large areas of wildlife habitat, in city and country. What we create may not look exactly like the countryside that Kenneth Grahame drew such inspiration from, but our wildlife won’t mind just so long as it has the places it needs to live and thrive.
“As a society we know how to put meanders back into straightened rivers and how to build bridges for wildlife. We know which wild places we should be protecting and expanding. But we need ambitious new laws to ensure we do this, laws that ensure we map out nature’s recovery.
“Meanwhile we can all make a practical difference. If you have a window sill or balcony you can put up bird feeders or plant pots of wildflowers. If you have a garden it is easy to dig a small pond or make holes in your fence for hedgehogs to wander through. It is not too difficult to take up paving slabs to let plants grow to feed our bees.
“Together we can make the next chapter for wildlife a happier one. Join us to put nature into recovery.”
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