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Environment

A 'People's Manifesto' of Overwhelming Scale Wants to Save Britain's Wildlife


Why Global Citizens Should Care
The UN’s Global Goals include several specific goals for protecting the environment, from protecting life on land and life below water, to stopping climate change, to responsible consumption and production. Chris Packham’s manifesto is huge, wide-ranging, and most importantly, it’s engaging. Everyone has to get involved in protecting the environment if we’re going to repair the damage we’ve already done. You can join us by taking action for the Global Goals here

Naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham has launched a “people’s manifesto” of more than 200 proposed measures in an effort to save Britain’s ever-declining wildlife. 

It’s a wide-ranging manifesto of huge scale but — most importantly — it’s designed to be completely accessible, because everyone needs to get involved in saving the environment. 

“It’s time to wake up,” says the manifesto. “We must rouse ourselves from this complacent stupor, because we are presiding over an ecological apocalypse and precipitating a mass extinction in our own backyard."

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“But — vitally — it is not too late,” it adds. “There is hope we can hold to, and there is acton we can take.”

“This is a people’s manifesto, not devised by the government, and we don’t have to wait for them to do something,” says Packham. “We can do it ourselves… We know how to solve the problems, we just need to make it happen.”

The point of the manifesto is that everyone — from politicians, to parents, to children, to farmers, to bloggers, and everyone in between — can take practical steps to put a stop to, and even reverse, the damage that we’ve done to our environment. 

Packham, together with 17 wildlife experts, has outlined 200 proposed measures — some of which are controversial, others it’s impossible not to get behind.

But the manifesto won’t stop there. It’s “designed to be incomplete,” and the hope is that it will evolve and develop as more members of the public get involved in it. 

“This manifesto is yours,” it reads. “It is freely open to future contributions — we urgently need more ideas, discussion, and debate to move conservation in the UK forward and cease the war on wildlife.” 

It cites figures from the most recent State of Nature Report, from 2016, showing that between 1970 and 2013, 56% of UK species declined. 

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Of the nearly 8,000 species assessed using modern criteria, 15% are threatened with extinction, suggesting that we are among the most nature-depleted countries in the world.

In fact, of the 218 countries assessed for “biodiversity intactness,” the UK ranked 189 — a “consequence of centuries of industrialisation, urbanisation, and overexploitation of our natural resources.” 

The manifesto says the damage being done is “horrifying … depressing … disastrous.”

“And yet somehow we have grown to accept this as part of our lives — we’ve normalised the drastic destruction of our wildlife,” it says.

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“We share these shocking statistics amongst ourselves like a vicious game of top trumps — to the extent that they have lost their meaning,” it adds. “We’ve forgotten that they are a death toll, that they are the dwindling voices of vanished millions, a tragic echo of a recent time of plentiful life.” 

The proposals themselves are broad and would affect every area of British life, from schools, to farms, to businesses, to politicians, to our homes and gardens. They include banning some practices, launching others, and encouraging the whole country to get involved in environmentalism. 

And this weekend offers everyone’s first chance — with a march organised in London’s Hyde Park on Sept. 22 to demonstrate support for the environment. 

Thousands are expected to attend the march, which is supported by many NGOs, schools, and businesses. 

“Our natural environment isn’t just a nice-to-have — it is crucial for our food, health, and wellbeing,” said Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth. “It’s time to end the sustained assault on wildlife and put it firmly at the heart of government policy making where it belongs.” 

And Environment Secretary Michael Gove has reportedly pledged to consider the report in depth — with Packham warning that the government’s 25-year plan for the environment doesn’t take into account the immediacy of the issue.

“Chris Packham and his colleagues have successfully motivated the public to get behind many of these issues,” he said. “Through our schools we can develop the next generation of environmentally-aware citizens and ensure wildlife and the natural world is protected.” 

Here are some of the proposals (you can find the whole manifesto here): 
  • Outdoor learning one day a fortnight, or equivalent, for every child in primary education.
  • A youth-led re-wilding project of scale to be established in the UK, where all decisions are taken by young people aged 12-21.
  • Call an immediate halt to the badger cull.
  • The indiscriminate and ruthless slaughter of Scotland’s mountain hares to stop immediately.
  • A new Environment Act, similar to the Human Rights Act, with the core principle that everyone, and nature itself, has the legal right to live in an environment adequate to their health and wellbeing.
  • All UK cities and towns to increase their tree canopy cover to 20% with the planting down by children from local schools.
  • Five Ways to Wildness: like the five-a-day food recommendation, frequent engagements with nature to become part of our regular ‘diet’.
  • Set a target for 20% of UK farmland to be organic or in conversion by 2022, supported by diverting existing ‘pillar one’ area-based farm subsidies.
  • All fruit and veg to be labelled with the pesticides used in their cultivation. If not practical to put such labels on every items, they should be listed on the company website.
  • Ban neonicotinoids from use as flea treatments on pets or as ant baits (this is not covered by the new EU ban).
  • Set up a nationwide scheme to measure levels of pesticides in soil and rivers.