Nature reserves and national parks are not enough to prevent a catastrophic decline in nature, David Attenborough has told politicians, business leaders and conservationists, saying that every space in Britain from suburban gardens to road verges must be used to help wildlife.
Britain’s leading commentator on wildlife called for a radical new approach to conservation which did not bemoan the past but embraced the changes brought by climate change and a rapidly growing human population.
“Where in 1945 it was thought that the way to solve the problem was to create wildlife parks and nature reserves, that is no longer an option. They are not enough now. The whole countryside should be available for wildlife. The suburban garden, roadside verges … all must be used”.
Attenborough, speaking at the RSPB’sConference for Naturein London, said it was now understood that British wildlife was in grave peril of disappearing. “50% of the hedgehog population has gone in 25 years, 90% of the wildlife meadows have disappeared in 100 years; 60% of all wildlife is diminishing and in danger, with 10% doomed to disappear in the next decades. Nowhere in Britain is unsullied, is unaffected by human action. We now have a huge population living cheek by jowl with nature”.
But rather than lament the changes, he urged everyone to act. “We know climate change is happening. It is regretted by some but it is also to be embraced. It is causing great changes in the distribution of animals and birds in the countryside. We must take advantage of that. It is very important that we accept there are things coming in … We must recognise that new animals and plants are coming in. Others are moving north. We ought to be giving thought to wildlife corridors … and not think that every new arrival is to be repelled.
“Because of the complex relationship society has with nature, it is obvious that our response to saving it must extend from every possible quarter too. With an increasing global footprint, mankind is intensifying the crisis for wildlife, but as individuals we can all be part of the solution for saving it too.’’
Well said Mr Attenborough!