THOUSANDS of people braved the September drizzle to join Chris Packham on a march to Whitehall calling on the government to take radical action to help reverse the decline of British wildlife.
Protesters from around the country included families, friends and groups from organisations ranging from Friends of the Earth to local Wildlife Trusts and the Woodland Trust.
As crowds gathered in Hyde Park, TV presenters like Lucy Cooke and Iolo Williams joined Packham and musician Billy Bragg to talk about the need for concerted action to reverse the decline of UK species – and avert their potential extinction.
Industrialisation, urbanisation and over-exploitation were blamed for some of the most dramatic statistics, with changes in farming practices contributing to the loss of flower-rich meadows and millions of farmland birds.
With some walkers dressed as bees, birds, foxes, badgers and hedgehogs, protesters set out to deliver the “People’s manifesto” to Downing Street calling for an end to the “war on wildlife”.
Describing the statistics as “horrifying, depressing and disastrous” the manifesto made a series of recommendations, including twinning primary schools with farms to help children understand how food is produced, banning driven grouse shooting, making it illegal to dredge for scallops and stopping Scottish seal culling.
“It’s time to wake up,” said Packham. “We are presiding over an ecological apocalypse and precipitating a mass extinction in our own backyard. But – vitally – it is not too late. There is hope we can hold to, and there is action we can take.”
The People’s Walk departed for Westminster to the tune of digital birdsong reverberating through the streets of London from hundreds of smartphones.
The manifesto booklet includes a series of essays from 18 “ministers” highlighting some of the most critical concerns affecting the British landscape matched with specific proposals of ways which if implemented, would directly benefit the nation’s wildlife.
Contributors include authors, journalists, environmentalists and campaigners like Dr Mark Avery, Patrick Barkham, Kate Bradbury, Dr Robert Macfarlane and George Monbiot.