Seizing the moment

Blog post by David North on 13 Sep, 2018

Campaign for a Wilder Britain

Fact: Britain is a nation of wildlife lovers and we have the best supported voluntary conservation movement in Europe and possibly the world.

Fact: our country has been rated as one of the worst (28th) in a list of the world’s most impoverished nations for wildlife. The losses of wildlife over the past 50 years have been on a scale difficult to grasp.
 
As someone who has spent my working life in the conservation movement I find the first of these facts gives me hope but the second makes me both sad and angry. How can it be that despite the efforts of so many passionate inspired individuals, and despite the work over many decades of some world-class conservation bodies, including The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and National Trust, that we have lost so much and nature continues to decline?
 
House sparrow, by Elizabeth Dack

House sparrow, by Elizabeth Dack

I can remember 50 years ago as a teenage birder watching great winter murmurations of starlings that numbered not thousands but hundreds of thousands, of watching flocks of several hundred bullfinches (difficult I know for today’s birders to imagine) and walks back from my school enriched by noisy gatherings of many hundreds of house sparrows in not one, but many, of the hedgerows I passed. I can also remember my deep sense of loss as my childhood countryside was denuded of hedgerows, the local ponds where I had gathered tadpoles were filled in, and the clouds of butterflies, that as a child I had chased around the buddleia in my parents’ garden, became fewer in both number and variety with every passing year. How have we – a nation where so many people truly care about our countryside and wildlife – allowed this great thinning of our wildlife to take place? How have we stood by while over the last 50 years more than 44 million birds vanished from our gardens, hedgerows, woods and farmland, while species once called common, common toads, common frogs and common lizards among them, ceased to be common across great swathes of our countryside? How have we as a nation remained silent as 95% of our wildflower meadows were destroyed in the name of ‘improvement’ and our bats, bees, butterflies, moths, hedgehogs and flying insects declined almost everywhere?
 
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has a strapline, perhaps you will recognise – Saving Norfolk’s Wildlife for the Future – and of course we have been successful in protecting some truly amazing wild places, Cley and Salthouse Marshes, Roydon Common and Hickling Broad among them. But if I tell you that now the most important patch of land for protecting Norfolk’s wildlife is a few hectares in central London you might think I was mad. How can that be?

Wildlife can’t speak for itself, so it’s up to those of us who care to speak out



Over the next few months decisions taken on this patch of land will determine the future of our wildlife and environment for decades to come. The patch of land I am talking about is Westminster, where this autumn our MPs will debate the content of an Agriculture Bill and Environment Act which between them will determine both the look of the countryside and the fate of much of its wildlife for generations to come.

Wildlife can’t speak for itself. It is up to those of us who care to speak out, to be a voice for nature and to shout so loudly from Norfolk, and across the country, that we can be heard loud and clear in Westminster. It’s time for the silent majority who love our countryside to speak with one voice on behalf of nature. It’s time to make our politicians hear clearly our anger over the manner in which past laws have failed to protect our wildlife. Time to demonstrate our determination now to achieve much more effective and wider reaching laws to protect the natural world we all depend on.

In fact what we now demand from our politicians is an Environment Bill that not only protects what wildlife is left, but enables, and underpins in law, the restoration of our countryside and the wildlife we have lost. Yes, we already have lots of laws protecting nature, but they are fragmented and have proved too weak to halt the slow and relentless thinning of our wildlife, both here in Norfolk and across our nation.
 
House sparrow, by Elizabeth Dack

The Wildlife Trusts' report

I truly believe that over the next few months we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to ‘Save Norfolk’s wildlife for the future’, to create a wilder future that’s good for both wildlife and people. But to do this everyone who cares about nature will need to speak out: the silent majority who care about nature to be silent no longer. It really is possible that a new Environment Act could establish a legally-binding ambition for a greener future with clear targets for species recovery, cleaner air and purer, pollution-free water. Will you speak out?  
 
The Wildlife Trusts nationally, working as part of a wider coalition of conservation bodies known as Greener UK, will be campaigning hard over the next few months to secure an Environment Bill that is strong enough to achieve the Government’s stated ambition ‘to make ours the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it.’ Would you like to help to achieve this? If so, over the next few months we will be providing lots of opportunities for you to be part of this campaign. Keep an eye on our website where details of this campaign will soon be published and read The Wildlife Trusts’ Towards a Wilder Britain report to learn more about our vision for restoring nature.
 
David North is Head of People and Wildlife at NWT
Share this

Latest Blog Posts

Red bartsia bee discovered at Thorpe Marshes Red bartsia bee discovered ...
by Chris Durdin on 06 Sep, 2018
Entranced by orchids Entranced by orchids
by David North on 07 Aug, 2018
Oasis in the drought: Thorpe Marshes in July Oasis in the drought: Thorp...
by Chris Durdin on 23 Jul, 2018
Volunteers Get Together at Weeting Heath Volunteers Get Together at ...
by Steve Cox on 20 Jul, 2018
Eye of the Shoal Eye of the Shoal
by Nick Morritt on 03 Jul, 2018
Norfolk hawkers at Thorpe Marshes Norfolk hawkers at Thorpe M...
by Chris Durdin on 26 Jun, 2018
10 reasons to love Norfolk 10 reasons to love Norfolk
by Jess French on 05 Jun, 2018
Lost Words for a Lost Generation Lost Words for a Lost Gener...
by Nick Morritt on 22 May, 2018
Bees in the reeds Bees in the reeds
by Robert Morgan on 15 May, 2018
Tour de Frank Tour de Frank
by Frank Ellis on 08 May, 2018
Otters in Norfolk Otters in Norfolk
by Ben Moore on 24 Apr, 2018
The hardest job in the world? The hardest job in the worl...
by David North on 10 Apr, 2018
Winter walk in the Claylands Winter walk in the Clayland...
by Helen Baczkowska on 12 Mar, 2018
Visiting ‘our’ seals in Norfolk Visiting ‘our’ seals in Nor...
by Ben Garrod on 16 Feb, 2018
Thorpe Marshes in the 1960s Thorpe Marshes in the 1960s
by Chris Durdin on 09 Jan, 2018
Answering the call: a year of wildlife festivals at Cley Answering the call: a year ...
by Bayley Wooldridge on 22 Dec, 2017
Orchards East in Norfolk Orchards East in Norfolk
by Rachel Savage on 25 Oct, 2017
Hedgehog season Hedgehog season
by Helen Baczkowska on 24 Oct, 2017
Wildlife going off the rails? Wildlife going off the rail...
by Mark Webster on 16 Oct, 2017