In 2019 the State of Nature report (National Biodiversity Network) highlighted just how bad things have become right here in the UK. Us Brits pride ourselves on being nature lovers, we spend more per head on bird food than anyone else . Yet we live in one of the most nature depleted countries on Earth.
It turns out that our green and pleasant land isn’t so pleasant after all – not if you’re a bird, a bee or a hedgehog.
For centuries nature in the UK has been driven out – seen as in the way of progress, unproductive, too messy, unnecessary – just a nice to have when we feel like it. Huge areas of our countryside, which ought to be a sanctuary for wildlife, have become a hostile place for too many of our animals and plants. Through intensive nature harming farming practices and hunting estates much of our countryside is now lacking in the food and habitats (homes) that our wildlife need. Parts of our countryside are literally toxic – where chemicals are sprayed and sown to maximise yields at the expense of healthy soil, clean water and our wildlife.
But it’s not just in the countryside that our wildlife is under attack. Nature has even been starved and tidied out of our urban green spaces and gardens. We have come to worship sterile neatness at the expense of the bounty of nature. We’ve starved and made our wildlife homeless with our obsessive mowing, strimming, leaf blowing and spraying.
Loss of wildlife isn’t just a shame for nature lovers. Like it or not we are an animal, and we need to eat as much as any other species. We can’t survive unless nature thrives.
We need functioning ecosystems that supply oxygen, clean air and water, pollination of plants, pest control, wastewater treatment and many other ecosystem services.
We need to restore the things that nature needs to recover, and we need to reduce those things that are killing it. It’s that simple!
Like us wildlife needs food, a safe home, not to be poisoned and not to be killed in such numbers that its population can’t recover!
Contrary to popular belief – we are not a crowded nation. There is more than enough room for nature and people to thrive. But right now, huge areas of the UK are being used in a way that is not only harmful to wildlife, but which delivers very little benefit to people.
A growing number of people are re-looking at how we use land in the UK and coming up with really innovative and hopeful projects. From the Knepp Estate in West Sussex to community garden projects in our inner-cities, more and more people are waking up to the realisation that restoring nature restores us too. During lockdown people both missed our green spaces and appreciated our birds and other wildlife.
Books like Rebirding by Benedict McDonald and Wilding by Isabella Tree offer practical ways of making nature restoration work for both our rural and urban communities. Vertical and insect farming is showing how we can produce food with less land, less water and less chemicals – leaving more space for nature.
We are in an Ecological Emergency as well as a Climate Crisis. We can’t tackle one without the other. We hope that reading about some of the amazing projects we support will inspire you to join the nature restoration revolution.
We need nature restoration urgently on a massive scale. To do that we need to use every tool in the toolbox – and that means looking at new funding mechanisms.
Yes, we need to lobby for more funding from government but we also need to explore new investment models.
So, in one of our most exciting projects, We Have the POWER is supporting The Wildlife Trusts to develop new mechanisms to enable investors big and small to be part of exciting programmes to bring about nature’s recovery at the scale and pace needed to bring our UK wildlife back and effect a green recovery. Find out more about how I am Funding nature.
In June 2021 I helped Dorset Wildlife Trust secure 420 acres of land for nature restoration (around 230 football pitches). The 2019 State of Nature Report was a wake-up call for everyone with a love of nature. I became determined to do my bit and buy some land where nature could thrive.
As well as starting my search for land I also started a reading journey (included Wilding by Isabella Tree) and discussions with local conservation groups. I soon decided that I wanted to secure land for nature beyond my lifetime and in the hands of experts in conservation, rather than an amateur enthusiast like me.
After agreeing a purchase of the land, I continued discussions with local conservation groups and eventually agreed to work with Dorset Wildlife Trust to secure the land in their expert care. By leading on the purchase, I gave Dorset Wildlife Trust time to obtain funding for the land including from our local councils. Wildlife in Dorset will now get more of the space it desperately needs to spread and regenerate and local people and visitors will get access to a wonderful new nature space.
Read more about A place for nature and people in Dorset.