David Attenborough warns ‘nature is in crisis’ as new campaign is launched to halt destruction of UK wildlife

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Sir David spoke out as a new campaign, Save Our Wild Isles, has been launched to halt the destruction and “ticking timebomb” of nature across the UK

Sir David Attenborough has warned that “nature is in crisis” but is still “hopeful” for the future, as he urges people to save it.

The naturalist spoke out as the charities RSPB Scotland and WWF Scotland joined together to launch an initiative Save Our Wild Isles - aimed at halting the destruction of nature across the UK.

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The campaign is calling on people to “go wild once a week” which could include planting wildflower seeds, eating more plant-based food or getting involved in community projects.

Speaking at the start of the Save Our Wild Isles campaign, RSPB Scotland warned that the country’s “amazing wildlife and wild places” are being “destroyed at terrifying speed”.

The charities said there is just enough of the UK’s natural world still left to save, and if everyone works together to aid its recovery, nature can begin to thrive again within the next few decades.

Sir David, a WWF ambassador, said: “The truth is, every one of us, no matter who we are, or where we live, can and must play a part in restoring nature. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or powerless by the scale of the issues facing our planet, but we have the solutions.

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“I am hopeful for the future, because although nature is in crisis, now is the time for action, and together we can save it.”

Almost three quarters of Scots are worried about the state of nature in the UK, according to a YouGov poll commissioned for the Save Our Wild Isles campaign.

In Scotland, almost half of bird species have seen their numbers decline since 1994, with one in nine species now threatened with extinction. The poll revealed four out of five Scots want to see all political parties come together to produce an action plan to protect nature.

(Images by NationalWorld/Mark Hall/Getty Images). (Images by NationalWorld/Mark Hall/Getty Images).
(Images by NationalWorld/Mark Hall/Getty Images). | NationalWorld/Mark Hall/Getty Images

‘We need to act fast, but there is hope’

Hilary McGrady, director-general at National Trust, Beccy Speight, chief executive of the RSPB and Tanya Steele, CEO of WWF (UK), said in a joint statement: “Huge numbers of animals, birds and habitats have been quite literally wiped out in our own lifetimes and we must now accept that without urgent and collective action, our economy, the climate and the stability of future generations living in our wild isles all face a ticking timebomb.

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“It is a massive challenge, and we need to act fast, but there is hope. The science is clear about what we need to do and there are already amazing people transforming farms, businesses, coasts, urban spaces, transport networks, energy supplies and communities for nature. We just need much more of it.”

Scottish bidoversity minister Lorna Slater said the campaign “couldn’t come at a more critical moment in the global fight to end extinctions and restore our natural environment.”

She added: “Here in Scotland we are ramping up action. We are expanding and improving protected areas and investing in nature through our new Nature Restoration Fund.

“We know we need to do more though, and are currently taking forward plans to create at least one new national park and to designate 10% of our waters as Highly Protected Marine Areas.”

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While UK Environment Secretary Therese Coffey praised “Sir David’s indefatigable enthusiasm” for “reminding us just how much we have to celebrate and how much we still need to do to protect and restore nature here in the UK.”

She said: “That is why we put in law the requirement to halt the decline in nature and protect the abundance of species, and why we are committed to increasing the amount of habitat for nature to thrive. To protect and restore nature is a truly national endeavour in which we can all play a part.

“That is why I welcome the call to Go Wild Once a Week so everyone – the public, communities, businesses and we in government – can work together to make a difference for nature in this country.”

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