Sir David Attenborough, Stephen Fry, Catherine Tate, Alison Steadman and Asim Chaudhry have backed a new campaign from The Wildlife Trusts that calls for a Wilder Future and for nature’s recovery in the UK. The conservationist and actors have starring roles in a new The Wind in the Willows campaign film trailer which brings to life the 21st century threats facing the much-loved characters from Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic. The animated trailer calls on everyone to help bring our wildlife back before it’s too late, so that we can all enjoy a wilder future.
The film trailer shows how the lives of Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad are disrupted by roads, river pollution and intensive agriculture – many habitats have been destroyed and others have been broken up. Toad hangs a picture of a puffin entangled in plastic on the wall in Toad Hall. “Farewell old friend” he says.
Kenneth Grahame wrote The Wind in the Willows just over a hundred years ago. Since then, many of the UK’s wild places and the plants and animals that depend on them have been lost. For example: 97% of lowland meadows and the beautiful wildflowers, insects, mammals and birds that they supported have disappeared; 80% of our beautiful purple heathlands have vanished – with their tiger beetles sand lizards and the stunning nocturnal birds, nightjars. Rivers are in deep trouble too: only 20% are considered as healthy and 13% of freshwater and wetland species in Great Britain are threatened with extinction.
Kenneth Grahame’s Ratty – the water vole – is the UK’s most rapidly declining mammal and has been lost from 94% of places where it was once prevalent, and its range is continuing to contract. Toad is also finding that times are very tough: he has lost nearly 70% of his own kind in the last 30 years alone – and much more than that in the last century.
These losses have led to the UK becoming one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. Over the past ten years there have been numerous reports and studies documenting wildlife declines in the UK. The main problems for wildlife are:
- Habitat loss – mostly caused by intensive farming, inappropriate development and lack of strategic planning, with the few remaining wild places being broken up by roads.
- Climate change – which is making a bad situation worse by causing extreme weather. This disrupts breeding patterns, threatens life cycles and creates food shortages. Wildlife cannot always keep up with changes to the seasons.
Stephanie Hilborne, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, says:
“We are a nation of nature-lovers, yet we live in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. If we want to put nature into recovery we have to create a mass movement of people calling for change. Our campaign film is a sad version of The Wind in the Willows – showing how Ratty and Toad have hit the buffers – but it ends with a message of real hope. It’s not too late to create strong laws which will help our wildlife make a comeback – and it’s not too late to establish a Nature Recovery Network which will enable us to plan a wilder future.”
The Wildlife Trusts hope The Wind in the Willows campaign film trailer will inspire people to help by nature by:
- Contacting politicians – to call for strong environmental laws which help nature recover.
- Walking in the pawprints of others – and imagine what wildlife needs to survive in your neighbourhood. Be inspired to take action for wildlife in your garden or local area, working with friends, neighbours – or by getting your local council involved – to create new homes for Toad, Ratty, Badger and friends.
- Creating a Wilder Future where you live – by checking out the latest events and volunteering opportunities at local Wildlife Trusts to discover what a Wilder Future could look like – and the part everyone can play in making it happen.