A tribute to David Attenborough on his 80th birthday on the 8th May
Happy birthday, Sir David!
Sir David Attenborough is Britain’s best known and most loved Natural History Filmmaker. Over his fifty-year career David Attenborough has been a Broadcaster, Producer, Author and Conservationist. He is also a Patron of the charity World Land Trust.
David Attenborough and wildlife conservation
David Attenborough’s links to the World Land Trust (WLT) go back a long way and began when working with the charity's CEO John Burton to protect the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda. Throughout his career David Attenborough has been active in the conservation world striving to help protect wildlife and our natural world. Speaking at an interview with the BBC, Sir David highlights his feeling towards conservation; "The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book? And if the answer is no, then people worldwide have got to say: 'Yes, elephants are a glory and a splendour and a wonder and we should not be responsible for their disappearance. And we are prepared to do something about it'." (1) In one of David Attenborough's patron's message to World Land Trust supporters, he emphasises further the need to take action for wildlife: "The fate of the creatures which share our planet lies entirely at the hand of mankind - it is within our power to protect them or watch them become extinct. Let us choose the first route." (2)
"The fate of the creatures which share our planet lies entirely at the hand of mankind."
Sir David has long been involved with conservation activities, and his television documentaries have inspired a whole generation of environmentalists, including WLT intern Jack Astbury who comments "Having grown up being amazed by David Attenborough's wildlife films what else would I possibly want to work with other than conservation issues!" By explaining why animals do what they do, and putting across the problems facing them in the wild in an accessible way, David Attenborough’s documentaries have championed wildlife conservation demonstrating his belief that in order to really care about wildlife you must first be shown it in all its splendour. "We'll only get people to care for the environment if they know something about it"Sir David says, "You can only get really unpopular decisions through if the electorate is convinced of the value of the environment. That's what natural history programs should be for." (3)
In the programme "Life in the Undergrowth” David Attenborough takes a direct line in warning of the dangers of depleting the earth's biodiversity, insisting that without insects humans would not last long."If the invertebrates were to disappear, the land’s ecosystems would collapse. Wherever we go on land, these small creatures are within a few inches of our feet – often disregarded. We would do very well to remember them." (4)
A long-term supporter of the World Land Trust
The origins of David Attenborough’s connection with the World Land Trust and his ongoing support for it's work highlights his dedication to the plight of endangered wildlife species. He has been a supporter of the charity since it was founded in 1989 and became and official patron in 2003. The same year David Attenborough launched Christopher Parsons Rainforest, a fundraising initiative to create a new reserve in Ecuador in memory of friend, fellow conservationist and former WLT trustee, Christopher Parsons.
"Buying land is the most direct and certain road to conservation."
As a patron of the World Land Trust David Attenborough is a firm believer in WLT's use of land acquisition as a tool for conservation, describing it as "the most direct and certain road to conservation." (5) Speaking in a BBC interview Sir David highlights his support of preserving ecosystems rather than focusing purely on species, "The only way to save a rhinoceros is to save the environment in which it lives because there's a mutual dependency between it and millions of other species of both animals and plants. And it is that range of biodiversity that we must care for - the whole thing - rather than just one or two stars." (3)
In David Attenborough's message to WLT supporters he urges everybody to "think deeply about what is important in life and to consider the consequences of daily activities." (2) This idea that there are many things that one can do to help conserve the environment is a belief that Sir David holds dear as he demonstrates when speaking to the Ecologist: "There are things to be done at all levels: from using less power and being more modest about the demands that we put on the environment; to not using CFCs; voting for the right politician, who you think is supporting these ideals; and giving a few pence, every now and again, to appeals. It's about cherishing the woodland at the bottom of your garden or the stream that runs through it. It affects every aspect of life." (5)
"Please join with the World Land Trust to do what we can to save what is precious to us."
Sir David calls for support
In his message to WLT supporters, Sir David says: "In human nature there is good and evil, and often it is within man’s capacity to destroy the very things we value most. We are at risk of destroying the very bedrock on which our existence was built. Please join with the World Land Trust to do what we can to save what is precious to us." (2)
Please join Sir David in supporting the World Land Trust: Make a donation today.
- Sir David Attenborough Joins World Land Trust as a Patron (WLT News article)
- David Attenborough Launches Christopher Parsons Rainforest (WLT News article)
- About the WLT: What is the World Land Trust?
- Help support wildlife conservation: Make a donation to the WLT
- How can I contact Sir David Attenborough?
(1) Attenborough: people are our planet's big problem, The Observer, November 13, 2005
(2) David Attenborough's Patron’s Messages, From World Land Trust Annual Review and Accounts 2003-2005
(3) Interview with Sir David Attenborough, BBC
(4) Life In The Undergrowth press pack, BBC, 20 October, 2005
(5) Strife on earth, The Ecologist, April 2001