Within the last century, the UK has become one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. 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.
The water vole is the UK’s most rapidly declining mammal and has been lost from 94% of places where they were once prevalent. Over the past ten years there have been numerous reports and studies documenting wildlife declines in the UK.
But we can make a change. Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust recently reintroduced water voles to Rutland Water Nature Reserve and a healthy population is now established.
Water vole at Rutland Water - Jason Parry-Wilson
The main problems for wildlife are:
Habitat loss – mostly caused by intensive farming, inappropriate development and lack of strategic planning – with the few remaining wild places being broken up by roads.
Climate change – causing extreme weather events such as storms, droughts and floods which disrupt breeding patterns, threaten life cycles and create food shortages. Wildlife cannot always keep up with changes to the seasons.
It’s like this because our systems and laws that should be keeping nature healthy are failing – for both wildlife and people. Everything is becoming disconnected.
We need to put nature into recovery and we need to do it now.
The Westminster Government is currently writing the content of an Environment Bill. Once complete, it will set the direction for the natural world and our relationship with it for years to come. If we get it right, the next chapter for our wildlife will tell a tale of recovery and new life.
We won’t have another opportunity like this for many years to come, so it is crucial that we join together now to get the laws right.
President Emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts, Sir David Attenborough says:
“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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Find out more about the campaign here
The Wildlife Trusts have created an animated trailer of Wind in the Willows, which brings to life the 21st century threats that would face the much-loved characters from Kenneth Grahame's children's classic in today's life. The film features the voices of Sir David Attenborough, and actors Stephen Fry, Catherine Tate, Alison Steadman and Asim Chaudhry. Watch the film here: