Wilder Britain

The past week has seen a lot of coverage of the environment and our impacts upon it. There has been the WWF report on extinction of vertebrates Living Planet Report 2108 which mirrors the decline in invertebrates noted in the tropics and Germany I linked in my recent post. Today the Meteorological Office report indicating climate change Met Office Climate Report has received much media coverage.

All of these reports are pointing in one direction, we need to get on with doing something about the state of our environment, our efforts so far have just not been enough to make any real difference. Some issues will only be properly tackled by action at national or international level, we can lobby to get policies changed, but we need to be acting more immediately if things are going to be improved or even if declines are to be halted.

So what is to be done? Can anything be done? The Wildlife Trusts have proposed that we should be seeking a “Wilder Britain”, Wilder Britain press release  essentially one in which we halt and then reverse the declines by establishing a nature recovery network. The objective is stated as follows: “The Wildlife Trusts believe in a future Britain where nature is a normal part of childhood and where wildlife thrives across the landscape. Where our urban spaces are green jungles and our seas are bursting with life. Where seeing a hedgehog is an every day experience.” The full document expands upon just how this might be achieved, Nature Recovery Network. 

A Wilder Britain, it is surely what we need,  it is now acknowledged that access to nature is really good for our mental health, we need access to nature. In addition an environment that is good for wildlife will be one that has low levels of pollutants, is varied, interesting and exciting. This is not a people or wildlife dichotomy, this is nature because we need it.

My worry is perhaps that we have been saying these kind of things for many years now without much effect. For example the value of larger, more connected areas for nature are now well recognised. However the research that demonstrated the truth of this was published in 1967 Theory of island bio-geography , it has taken over fifty years to break through to become mainstream thinking! If nature is to stand any chance of recovering, we probably don’t have fifty years to wait for the idea to take hold. If you are interested in a more accessible approach to the theory the excellent Song of the Dodo by David Quammen is a must read, brilliantly written and the kind of book that cannot but make you stop and think about where we are going.

In amongst the reserve reports you can expect to see more about these issues in future blogs, you have been warned!