Chris Packham issues rallying cry for wildlife at Suffolk conference
- Credit: Archant
Standing ovation for naturalist after he gives talk at Snape Maltings
Despite the seemingly insurmountable environmental challenges facing society, we “do have the answers to these issues” but what’s lacking is the political will to implement them, wildlife broadcaster and campaigner Chris Packham told an audience in Suffolk last week.
Addressing a sell-out crowd at the Small Earth conference, held at Snape Maltings, Mr Packham covered topics such a biodiversity loss, habitat destruction and the effects of climate change.
“But it’s not all doom,” he said.
Holding up a copy of ‘A People’s Manifesto for Wildlife’ which Mr Packham unveiled in September, he said: “Nothing is rocket science. I asked a collection of people to come up with ten ideas each to save wildlife, and they came back with 25. I have people banging on my door with other ideas for a second draft of the manifesto - we have plenty of ideas.”
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In total Packham’s manifesto offers 200 suggestions for reversing the declines in the UK’s wildlife population, including: rewilding a tenth of the UK’s upland areas, ensuring all pet cats wear a bell collar, the introduction of a pesticide tax and for 10% of every farm to be managed for wildlife with wildflowers and restored farm ponds and wetlands.
“There are people who have answers to all these issues,” he said. “But we have to do it ourselves - our politicians are messing around with Brexit, while our Earth is burning. There is a wholesale lack of ambition in the UK - there’s always an excuse for not doing things.
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“This is the time when we have to stand up and be counted. We’ve got to summon the bravery, stop moaning, stop saying we care and get up and do something.”
Mr Packham said action was required to “force the hand” of politicians but, he emphasised, “not outside democracy”. This action should to be “imaginative and creative” and “sometimes use humour” he added.
Speaking passionately and eloquently for an hour and a half without notes, Mr Packham, who took to the floor accompanied by his pet poodle, Scratchy, received a standing ovation at the end of his talk.
Earlier in the session, Mr Packham, who is best known for presenting the BBC’s popular Springwatch broadcasts, had discussed the need for people to take a more joined up and expansive view of the natural world.
He started with the example of conservationists who work with hedgehogs.
“There are a lot of people who rehabilitate hedgehogs and locally they may help maintain hedgehog populations - but it’s very focussed on one thing,” he said.
“Even the NGOs tend to focus on single habitats, like reed beds - but the greatest beauty is not in the individual animals [or habitats] but in what they all do together.
Mr Packham added: “Ecology is the key word here. We are attracted to individual animals because they are more accessible - but individual animals are quite insignificant if you see what they do together.
“In a place like the Amazon, the interaction [of all the different species] is beyond our imagination.
“We’ve got to raise the bar - if we want to truly appreciate natural beauty we need to think on an ecological level.”