Saving threatened habitats worldwide

The wretched state of British wildlife

22 May, 2013 - 12:58 -- John Burton

State of Nature, a report launched today with the backing of 25 UK conservation organisations, highlights the depressing, ongoing decline of British wildlife.

Sir David Attenborough, one of the patrons of World Land Trust, wrote the foreword to the report, and he was interviewed this morning on Radio 4’s Today Programme.

During the interview, Sir David makes many pertinent comments, but I do disagree with him when he states: "This ground-breaking report is a stark warning - but it is also a sign of hope.”

Although it is certainly a stark warning, I am far less sure that it is a sign of hope.

We have a government that is contradicting its own scientific advisors on issues such as culling badgers. We have Ash dieback spreading, threats to the green belt ongoing, and a human population growing at an unsustainable rate. I see no reason to be optimistic.

Worldwide the situation is much worse. In Paraguay the Chaco is being ploughed up. Elsewhere, toxoplasmosis is wiping out marsupials and sea otters, exotic species are invading more and more parts of the world and ivory is openly traded on ebay.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The economies of India, China and Brazil are booming and, in order for residents of these countries to have the basic living standards of western Europe and North America, the impact on the world’s resources will be catastrophic.

But we cannot sit back and do nothing. That is why we at World Land Trust carry on saving wild places acre by acre. Protecting biodiversity through land purchase is a slow and painstaking process, and opposing forces are tremendously powerful. But you have to start somewhere.

Sir David Attenborough on the Today Programme »

Download the report »


Submitted by Dominic Belfield on

It is these kind of news stories which throw the prevailing values of our times into stark relief.

Because, for me, this warning of the deteriorating state of our ecosystems warrants just AS MUCH a national priority, to galvanise the national mood, as the economic slow-down bewitching our politicians. I honestly reckon it should really be up there alongside a full war footing. Our future is at stake.

We need the good functioning of the life support systems MORE than we need (nebulous) concepts of economic growth. When it comes down to it - you can't eat money. If we are losing basic working parts, like insect pollinators, all the computer power in the world won't put food on the table and if our routine activities disrupt basic environmental parameters that maintain basic life support capacities, like soil creation and stable climate regimes, then we need a radical rethink.

Is it just me that despairs how we don't even remotely countenance allocating the same amount of resources as our government is lining up for "capital projects" as to what we should be investing in caring for and enhancing the ecosystems on which we completely depend for every breath, drop of fresh water and morsel of food?

World Land Trust isn't just a nice idea. Its mission is comprehensively central to our long term survival.

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