Why we need a Wilder Future

Why we need a Wilder Future

Photo by Katrina Martin/2020Vision

This is a once in a generation opportunity to make a real difference for the environment and wildlife.

Each year we are losing more wildlife in the UK.

Since the 1970s, more than half of species in the UK have declined, and 15 per cent of species are threatened with extinction. This includes the adder in Oxfordshire.

Depressingly, the UK is ranked 189 out of 218 countries for the health of its biodiversity. 

Recently scientists reported that insect populations are crashing – eight times faster than mammals, birds or reptiles – and could be gone within a century causing a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”.

One scientist described the species extinction like the game Jenga – you remove several pieces and everything looks fine, but you don’t know which piece is going to cause the rest to collapse. So there is no room for complacency.

Intensive use of pesticides, a lack of wild plants and flowers for pollinators and global warming are to blame. Our species needs to do more to help others, and in the process help itself – without pollinators we won’t have sufficient food.

Butterfly on a roadverge

Everyone can play their part by planting wild flowers in their gardens, and encouraging their local councils and landowners to do the same with road verges and field margins.

We need local authorities and the government to do more.

Our nature reserves are jewels in the crown of nature, but areas where wildlife thrives need to be physically joined up because wildlife needs space to find a home, hunt for food, and breed.

We are calling for the government to require local authorities to create Nature Recovery Networks that map out areas of land that we need to protect and join up. This would include nature reserves and other protected sites, as well as heaths and meadows; road verges, parks, hedges and woods; and rivers, streams, ponds and lakes.

We also need to ensure that after Brexit the UK maintains and strengthens our environmental laws with legally-binding targets to preserve the environment and help nature. We want to prevent a return to the days when we were known as the ‘dirty man of Europe’ because of our litter-strewn beaches. 

Currently 80 per cent of our environmental laws come from the EU. An independent environmental watchdog should replace the European Court of Justice, so that people have a means of holding the government and councils to account if they break the law. For example, the government has been taken to court in the EU before because of high air pollution levels.

Cattle in wildflower meadow

Cattle in wildflower meadow by Ian Boyd

We also believe a fairer system should replace the Common Agricultural Policy, an EU scheme which currently rewards people for the amount of land they own rather than the sustainability of the way they manage their land.

There needs to be greater emphasis on encouraging landowners to protect water from contamination, and maintain good quality soil that will sustain crop growing for centuries to come.

During half-term, visitors to our nature reserves and education centres will be making pledges to help wildlife. This is the latest stage in our Campaign for a Wilder Future, where we are encouraging the public to join us in creating new spaces for wildlife in rural and urban areas. This could be as simple as putting up a bird or bat box, making small holes in the bottom of fences for hedgehogs to travel in search of food, or using plants to attract butterflies and bees.

In recent weeks our members and supporters have been meeting their MPs to encourage them to support our campaign, and we have invited them to visit our visitor centres and education centres in March to see all the pledges that the public have made during February. 

This is a once in a generation opportunity to make a real difference for the environment and wildlife.

Major legislation focusing on the environment is due to pass through parliament over the coming months, to prepare the UK for life after Brexit. This legislation needs to protect humans and wildlife for years to come. 

Please contact your local MP and councillors to let them know how you feel about wildlife. Now is the time to act. 

Also, please keep feeding wildlife and providing them with a home in your garden. Every action you take is important, however small. 

Encourage your friends and family to support the campaign, and share photos of what you are doing to help wildlife using the hashtag #WilderFuture

Together we will make a difference for our precious wildlife and natural world.

How to get involved


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