Earlier this summer, I sat in my garden, admiring a small wildflower patch I’d sown. Then I realised something was missing. Not a single butterfly jinked between the flowers, no bumblebees buzzed, no hoverflies hovered. The Guardian reports.
We have lots of data to prove these absences, and have become inured to them. We say that we’ve lost 97% of our flower-rich meadows since the 1930s or that we’ve lost 86% of corn bunting or 97% of hedgehogs. Loss, lost … as if this habitat and these species have mysteriously disappeared into the ether. Lost means inadvertently misplaced. No, our wildlife has been killed, starved, poisoned, ploughed up or concreted over.
I’ve been organising the first People’s Walk for Wildlife, which takes place in London this Saturday from midday. Everyone is invited – foresters, reserve wardens, teachers, students, children, scientists, artists, bloggers, activists, volunteers, gardeners. We are going to sing songs, play birdsong from the missing birds and share our love of all species.
But this isn’t some fluffy bunny-hugging endeavour. We have specific ideas to fix this too. Today I’m publishing a People’s Manifesto for Wildlife which we will present to the environment secretary, Michael Gove. I asked 17 independent experts to suggest practical, creative and hard-hitting measures to stop the destruction. They’ve amazed me. We’ve produced a manifesto containing nearly 200 ideas to revive British wildlife.
Some are imaginative 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. Twin every primary school with a farm to help children understand farming and food growing. Get primary school classes to name and own significant urban trees in perpetuity to form lifelong bonds between people and trees.
One farmer quoted in the manifesto argues that we must all rethink the way we live, shop, cook and eat “so that we wean ourselves off the damaging farming that has fed us cheaply, but at an appalling price to nature”. The manifesto is only a first draft. Some ideas will be criticised. Many of you will have other great ideas. Let’s share them, debate them, and take decisive steps to save the wildlife that enriches every single one of us.
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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