The State of UK Habitat

Naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham is president, vice president and supporter of a whole bunch of really impressive conservation charities. And he’s under no illusions about what they mean. ‘We have come to accept that these nature reserves are the only places where we can get sufficient reward, the only places where there is enough wildlife to satisfy our Sunday afternoon desires.’ Indeed, he observes that ‘We walk, cycle or drive through miles of ecological desert to get to these tiny oases.’

He refers to the 2013 State of Nature report on UK animal and plant life. This shows that the majority of our habitats are in a critical state and a significant percentage of species, birds, mammals, insects and plants, are in serious decline.

He believes ‘relentless destructive industrialisation of our landscape, drained, cleared, ploughed and poisoned’ is the reason for this,’ supported by an outdated food system designed to produce cheap food much of which is wasted’.

At the same time he reports that we do have the abilities, techniques and technologies that could not only arrest the decay but almost immediately increase the numbers and diversities of our wildlife.

He concludes, ‘It’s time we voiced a desire, demanded a right to have a healthy natural environment all around us… it’s about us all needing a seriously sustainable landscape that will continue to function and continue to feed us.’

As a first step the River of Flowers has got it right – we need wild plants, and we need them to be connected so insects and then birds can travel along them. Time to sow that packet of wild flower seeds.