A People’s Manifesto For Wildlife

Last year I read Chris Packham‘s memoir Fingers In The Sparkle Jar, which furthered my respect for this slightly awkward character (as awkward as the BBC can just about tolerate) and his attitude to humanity and its place in what’s often referred to as the ‘natural world’. Using such terms implies that the world we’ce created for ourselves to inhabit is somewhat ‘unnatural’, and I think it’s that sense of remove that has created the situation we find ourselves in, a situation that this document describes in clear and unequivocal terms. The headline statistics, from the RSPB’s 2016 State of Nature report don’t require any embellishment:

“Between 1970 and 2013, 56% of UK species declined . . . of the nearly 8,000 species assessed using modern criteria, 15% are threatened with extinction. . . . this suggests that we are among the most nature-depleted countries in the world.”

This situation is a direct consequence of “centuries of industrialisation, urbanisation and overexploitation of our natural resources”. Packham describes this bluntly, and accurately, as: “…horrifying. Depressing. Disastrous. And yet somehow we have grown to accept this as part of our lives – we’ve normalised the drastic destruction of our wildlife.” He lays part of the blame in the kind of language used to describe this “ecological apocalypse”, where species or their habitats are said to have been “‘lost’… as if this habitat and these species have mysteriously disappeared into the ether, as if they’ve accidentally vanished. But they haven’t – they’ve been destroyed.”

In order to address this, a contingent of writers, journalists, academics. scientists, environmental campaigners, film-makers, and volunteers have contributed to a clear and sane assessment of the current predicament and made practical suggestions on how we might collectively address it. Some of their proposals require action from Government that I’m personally not going to hold my breath for, as the current shower we have in office I would not trust to be able to pour piss out of a boot even if the instructions were written on the heel. However, where direct action can be made by people working individually and collectively, I have more faith that this can be done. And it should be. In our family we do “our bit” by creating spaces and growing plants in our back garden that will allow many species to thrive, putting out food for birds and animals, contributing to various charities, etc. It’s not hard to do, and you can see the impact of your actions as dozens of bird species flock to get at the various feeders we’ve hung, or bees and butterflies drift through the pollinators in the flower beds. I recommend it as an antidote to the sense of despair that’s inevitable when you consider how dire the situation truly is.

The manifesto is full of information, useful links and suggestions for further reading. Highly recommended:

A People’s Manifesto for WIldlife – illustrated edition

A People’s Manifesto for WIldlife – unillustrated and expanded edition

 

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