Caught by the River

A People’s Manifesto for Wildlife

21st September 2018

Yesterday, via his website, Chris Packham launched the ‘Peoples Manifesto For Wildlife’ that he has co-edited with Patrick Barkham and Robert Macfarlane.

Referencing the 2016 State of Nature Report, Packham says that ‘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.’

He continues: ‘It’s 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.

To our shame, we are careless with our language. We say that ‘we’ve lost 97% of our flower rich meadows since the 1930s’ or that ‘we’ve lost 86% of the Corn Bunting population’. We speak of ‘a loss of 97% of our Hedgehogs’. Loss, 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.

Our lazy, self-excusing terminology is representative of our chronic acceptance of such appalling catastrophes. We share these shocking statistics amongst ourselves like a vicious game of top trumps – to the extent that they have lost their meaning. We’ve forgotten that they are a death toll, that they are the dwindling voices of vanished millions, a tragic echo of a recent time of plentiful life.

It’s time to wake up.’

With contributions from Mark Avery, Amy-Jane Beer, Kate Bradbury, Jill Butler, Mark Carwardine, Mya-Rose Craig, Carol Day, Dominic Dyer, Dave Goulson, Miles King, Bella Lack, Georgia Locock, Robert Macfarlane, George Monbiot, Ruth Peacey, Robert Sheldon, Ruth Tingay and Hugh Warwick, the manifesto aims to further conservation efforts in the UK. Its 18 essays highlight some of the most critical concerns affecting the UK landscape and its species, each accompanied by ten commandments – ‘no-brainer’ solutions to the problems.

The document – which is free to download – is presented as an incomplete first draft, open to response and future contribution.

More information about the manifesto and a link to download it can be found here.

Additionally, Chris is urging people to join the People’s Walk for Wildlife taking place tomorrow in London’s Hyde Park. More information here.