Chris Packham unveils manifesto to save Britain’s declining wildlife
- Credit: Archant
TV presenter publishes a 200-point plan ahead of Walk for Wildlife in London this weekend
All primary schools should be “twinned” with a farm to help children understand how food is produced, under proposals to help nature unveiled by Chris Packham.
Primary school classes should also name and own significant urban trees, more than 180,000 miles of hedgerows lost since 1960 should be replanted and there should be wildlife ponds in every industrial estate and public park, according to the plans.
The proposals are part of a manifesto for wildlife launched by the TV presenter and naturalist to reverse what he describes as an “ecological apocalypse”, with more than half of British species suffering declines in recent decades.
The manifesto, which Packham says is a “first draft to ignite public interest”, was unveiled ahead of the People’s Walk for Wildlife in central London on Saturday, which he has organised.
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It includes more controversial suggestions including banning driven grouse shooting, outlawing the use of lead ammunition and snares, making it illegal to dredge for scallops and stopping Scottish seal culling.
There are also proposals to “rewild” a tenth of the UK’s upland areas, reintroduce species such as beaver and lynx, and for 10% of every farm to be managed for wildlife with wildflowers and restored farm ponds and wetlands.
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Packham, who visited East Anglia this summer as part of a national ‘bioblitz campaign’ to measure the UK’s natural biodiversity, also wants to see a tax on pesticides, a move recently announced by Denmark, and a target to reduce the use of such chemicals by 50% by 2022, following the lead of France and Denmark which have set reduction targets.
Elsewhere among the 200 suggestions for action to protect nature are for all new-build homes to have nest boxes for swifts, swallows and starlings, with incentives for retrofitting them on older properties, and for hedgehog holes to be compulsory on new fencing.
There are also proposals for farmers to be paid a fair price for the food they produce in return for the production being more sustainable.
The manifesto also urges cat owners to keep pets in at night to stop them killing wild birds, and calls for it to be mandatory that all free-roaming cats have collars with bells.
Nature reserves should be dog-free and dog-walking hotspots should be created away from wildlife-rich areas, with facilities for dogs and owners.
In the introduction to the manifesto, which has had contributions from various experts and campaigners, Packham says: “It’s time to wake up.
“We are presiding over an ecological apocalypse and precipitating a mass extinction in our own backyard.
“But - vitally - it is not too late. There is hope we can hold to, and there is action we can take.”
He calls for immediate Government action to halt the destruction of wildlife, arguing many measures can be taken that will cost taxpayers nothing and will hugely benefit Britain’s wildlife.
And he said: “This is a people’s manifesto - it’s not devised by the Government, and we don’t have to wait for them to do something. We can do it ourselves.
“I want this manifesto to be a first draft to ignite public interest, so that people feel empowered to stand up and say ‘I’ve got ideas as well, and they work.’
“We know how to solve the problems, we just need to make it happen. If this manifesto can be a catalyst, I’d be delighted.”
The People’s Walk for Wildlife takes place from 10am in Hyde Park on Saturday September 22, with the walk at 1pm.