New film from Sir David Attenborough and The Wildlife Trusts calls for nature’s recovery

Sir David Attenborough, president emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts has made a short film with the charity to provide answers to the State of Nature partnership’s latest warnings of continued, devastating wildlife declines in the UK.

In the film Sir David calls for powerful new laws to ensure the UK’s wild places can thrive once more and for a Nature Recovery Network.

Sir David Attenborough says in the film:

“A wildlife-rich natural world is vital for our wellbeing and survival. We need wild places to thrive. Yet many of our systems and laws have failed the natural world. We now live in one of the most nature depleted places on the planet. Nature urgently needs our help to recover – and it can be done. By joining up wild places and creating more across the UK we would improve our lives and help nature to flourish - because everything works better when it’s connected.

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“Now is the time to tell our politicians that we need a Nature Recovery Network set in law. A legally binding network for nature would mean that wildlife is prioritised when managing our land and planning our towns. Powerful new environmental laws can ensure habitats are expanded and reconnected meaning all life will thrive once more.

“It’s time to turn things around. Nature is capable of extraordinary recovery but we must act now!  Tell your politicians now is the time to put nature into recovery. Everything works better when it’s connected.”

The film urges people to take action for a wilder future. It follows on from an earlier film created by The Wildlife Trusts, also narrated by Sir David Attenborough, which retold the children’s tale The Wind in the Willows to highlight the problems faced by UK wildlife. This new film goes one step further by providing a tangible solution.

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Nikki Williams, Director of Campaigns and Policy at The Wildlife Trusts, says:

“Nature is in big trouble but we know how to bring it back. Local action is already making a real difference and now the government needs to play its part. We need a Nature Recovery Network established in law – one that is locally developed and nationally connected – this would help join up our last remaining wild places by creating vital new habitats. It’s time to make nature a normal part of childhood again and restore wildlife so it can recover and thrive across urban jungles and the countryside once more – where it can be part of people’s daily lives.”

Follow these links for more information about how to create a Nature Recovery Network and our Wilder Future campaign.

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Notes for editors
About new legislation and a Nature Recovery Network

An Environment Bill

The Wildlife Trusts are calling for new legislation that will not only protect but will also help to restore green spaces and wild places that we depend on.

The Wildlife Trusts have long called for an ambitious Act for nature’s recovery and we welcome the Government’s commitment to introduce the first Environment Bill in over 20 years.  However, the Government’s current proposals don’t yet meet the ambition needed to turn nature’s recovery from an aspiration to a reality.

What must the Environment Bill contain?

To meet the scale of the current environmental crisis we face, we believe the new Environment Bill must:

  • enable the creation of a Nature Recovery Network through a duty on local authorities to map and join-up important places for wildlife;
  • establish bold and legally binding targets for healthy air, clean water, thriving wildlife, waste and plastic pollution, and our global footprint;
  • create a strong and independent environmental watchdog with multi-year budgets, and parliament having a greater say on approving its funding and appointments.

Why a Nature Recovery Network?

For many years we’ve known that nature reserves alone are not enough for wildlife’s recovery.  Too often we’ve seen wildlife forced into fewer and smaller pockets of wild space, surrounded by urban development or intensive agriculture.  This reduces nature’s resilience to climate change.  Sir John Lawton, who led a Government review of England’s wildlife sites in 2010, said: “There is compelling evidence that they are generally too small and too isolated. We need more space for nature.”

To allow nature to recover, we need to reconnect the fragmented sites that remain – stitching back together Britain’s tattered natural fabric of wild land and creating more space for wildlife.

A Nature Recovery Network would act as a strategic spatial planning framework to map, plan and deliver what nature needs to recover, allowing targeted delivery and investment in nature’s recovery and for translating national objectives into real change on the ground.  Aligning funds such as Environmental Land Management payments and “net gain” contributions will provide value for money and allow businesses to have confidence in where and how to invest for long term environmental gain.

Across the countries we’re calling on:

  • The Westminster Government to put this in its upcoming Environment Bill
  • The Welsh Government to do this through a Sustainable Land Management Bill
  • A Scottish Environment Act that sets an ecological network across Scotland in law; and
  • An ambitious environment strategy for Northern Ireland

An Agriculture Bill
Agriculture covers over 70% of the UK and is the main cause of wildlife declines. The new Agriculture Bill must have powers to fund the delivery of public goods. To ensure it truly supports the recovery of nature the Bill needs to:

  1. Ensure guaranteed long-term funding at the scale required to meet current and future environmental commitments and wider Government ambition.
  2. Include duties, rather than simply powers, for Ministers to further the maintenance, recovery and restoration of the natural environment.
  3. Establish specific, legally-binding targets to drive the recovery of nature.
  4. Ensure that payments for improving productivity are conditional on safeguarding environmental outcomes.
  5. Maintain high standards in trade.
  6. Link payments to compliance with basic standards of land management.

A Fisheries Bill
To ensure truly sustainable fisheries management, the Fisheries Bill must contain a firm commitment to set catch limits at or below scientifically recommended levels and a clear legal duty to achieve the fisheries sustainability objectives.