The People’s Walk for Wildlife

September 23, 2018

We’ve known it for ages, but every three-year State of Nature report reminds us how impoverished our wildlife has become, and each new report paints a worsening picture.  Between 1970 and 2013 56% of UK species declined, and 15% are now threatened with extinction.   The UK is officially among the most nature-depleted countries in the world.  It...

We’ve known it for ages, but every three-year State of Nature report reminds us how impoverished our wildlife has become, and each new report paints a worsening picture.  Between 1970 and 2013 56% of UK species declined, and 15% are now threatened with extinction.   The UK is officially among the most nature-depleted countries in the world.  It is a roll call of absentee wildlife, of catastrophic loss, but as Chris Packham points out, the language of ‘loss’ rather than ‘destruction’ hides the fact that someone is to blame – ultimately all of us.  Packham’s response has been to organise the first People’s Walk for Wildlife, which took place in London on Saturday. He raised a call for – as he put it – foresters, reserve wardens, teachers, students, children, scientists, artists, bloggers, activists, volunteers and gardeners to assemble to “share our love of all species”.

A few days before the walk, Packham launched a People’s Manifesto for Wildlife in which 17 independent experts proposed 200 practical, creative and hard-hitting measures to stop the destruction. They include steps to ensure future generations grow up better connected to the natural world. Every primary school child could have one day of outdoor learning each fortnight. Primary school classes could name and own significant urban trees in perpetuity to form lifelong bonds between people and trees.  Everyone – no matter how urban – should have access to high-quality green space.

There are a number of straightforward calls to ban things -the weedkiller glyphosate,  driven grouse shooting, scallop dredging, snaring to control foxes, and dogs on nature reserves (except assistance dogs).

The crowd swelled to 10,000 according to police estimates.  The seventeen experts, including young advocates Mya-Rose Craig, Bella Lack, Georgia Locock and Dara McAnulty were called up to the stage they shared with Packham and singer-songwriters Billy Bragg and Grace Petrie to make their demands.  Dominick Dyer’s passionate call for an end to the badger cull drew the loudest of many loud approvals from the crowd.  Then off we marched, assembling opposite the entrance to Downing Street where George Monbiot gave a rousing call for rewilding and set out a positive vision to counterbalance the negative messages that often come out of the mouths of environmentalists.   Finally, Chris Packham and five young campaigners disappeared down Downing Street to deliver a petition to No. 10.

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