This column will help to fill a media vacuum. On 22 September, led by Chris Packham, thousands of people, many dressed in animal costumes, walked in protest from Hyde Park to Whitehall. They were protesting about the enormous, and continuing, loss of wildlife in this country over the last few decades. Whether its plants, birds, mammals, marine life or insects, the results are the same: populations reducing and species going extinct. These are the missing millions. As part of the event a ‘People’s Manifesto for Wildlife’ was launched, under the headline ‘ Let’s stop the war on wildlife ’.
Mainstream media, with the exception of some national newspapers, virtually ignored the event. This was probably because there was no violence or rowdiness, it was billed as a walk, not a march, and no property was damaged. Peaceful protest, however vital the cause is apparently not newsworthy. But newsworthy it should be. According to the Independent Chris Packham said that the walk and the manifesto were ‘ Born out of frustration with the way conservation has been handled in the UK. If we don’t take some action to look after species now, we are going to lose them ‘.
He is absolutely right. Despite protective legislation, lottery and other funding, and the efforts of conservation bodies, wildlife and the natural habitats on which it depends continues to decline at an alarming rate. From mountain hares to hedgehogs, and scallops to swifts, the evidence is plain to see. The causes are many; they include intensive farming, the extensive use of polluting chemicals in many contexts, fish farming, and urban development which takes no account of nature.
The ‘People’s Manifesto for Wildlife’ addresses these and other crucial issues. It offers an analysis of our attitudes and behaviours towards the natural world, and lists many ways in which we can begin to redress the balance. Amongst others there are sections on wildlife law, education, the impacts of cats and dogs, forestry, and engaging young people. Packham describes it as ‘ draft one ’ and invites others to contribute to its development.
At the end of the walk it was handed in to the Government in Downing Street. Environment Secretary Michael Gove has undertaken to consider the contents. Don’t hold your breath.
Read the Manifesto here: http://www.chrispackham.co.uk/a-peoples-manifesto-for-wildlife