Sir David Attenborough calls for action as ‘nature is in crisis’

Veteran broadcaster Sir David Attenborough warned that “nature is in crisis” as he urged people to rally behind action to save it.

The naturalist, who has presented programs such as The Blue Planet, spoke as charities RSPB Scotland and WWF Scotland joined forces to launch an initiative aimed at halting the destruction of nature across the UK.

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

I am optimistic about the future, because even though nature is in crisis, now is the time to act and together we can save it

Sir David Attenborough

However, WWF ambassador Sir David insisted he was still “hopeful” about the future.

He said: “The truth is that each of us, no matter who we are, or where we live, can and should play a role in restoring nature.

“It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or powerless by the scale of the problems facing our planet, but we have the solutions.

“I am optimistic about the future, because even though nature is in crisis, now is the time to act and together we can save it.”

Almost three quarters of Scots (71%) are concerned 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 (49%) of bird species have seen their numbers decline since 1994, with one in nine species now threatened with extinction.

Scotland’s 11 breeding seabirds declined by 38% between 1986 and 2016, with kittiwakes and arctic squaws seeing their numbers decline by more than 70% between 1995 and 2020, while populations of terns, curls and flyaways reduced by more than 60%.

To help tackle nature’s decline, the Save Our Wild Isles campaign is calling on people to ‘start once a week’ – which could include planting wildflower seeds, eating more plant-based food or taking part in community projects .

The poll revealed that four in five Scots (81%) want to see all political parties come together to create an action plan to protect nature, with 79% backing tougher penalties on businesses whose actions contribute to decline of nature.

Nature supports everything that makes our lives possible – from the air we breathe, to the clean water we drink, to the food we eat

Anne McCall, Director, RSPB Scotland

Anne McCall, director of RSPB Scotland, said: “The amazing wildlife and wild places that make Scotland so special are being destroyed at an alarming rate.

“Huge numbers of animals, birds and habitats have literally disappeared in our lifetimes and we must now accept that without urgent and collective action, our economy, climate and the stability of future generations living on our wild islands face a clockwork bomb”.

“Nature supports everything that makes our lives possible – from the air we breathe, to the clean water we drink, to the food we eat.

“It is our life support system and it is clear that the recovery of nature and the desire to reverse the damage we have caused over the last two centuries are issues that unite us all.”

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “Saving our wild islands is a huge 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, coastlines, urban spaces, transport networks, energy supplies and communities for nature. We just need a lot more of it.

“Everyone, everywhere can make a difference to nature in this country. Protecting and restoring nature must be at the heart of all decisions and we will see rapid change if we all stand together and act together.”

He and Ms McCall both said: “Together, we must take urgent action to save our wild islands. The health and well-being of our planet and future generations depend on it.”

Scottish Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater said: “This campaign could not come at a more critical time in the global fight to end extinctions and restore our natural environment.

“In December a new global framework for nature was agreed by world leaders and it is up to all of us to act now and deliver the action nature needs.

“Here in Scotland we are stepping up action. We are expanding and improving protected areas and investing in nature through our new Nature Restoration Fund, which puts funds behind projects that conserve and restore our natural environment across Scotland.

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

“Reversing the dramatic nature losses we’ve seen in recent times is one of the defining challenges of our time, so I welcome this important new campaign.”

UK Environment Secretary Therese Coffey said: “Sir David’s tireless enthusiasm for the natural world reminds us how much we have to celebrate – and how much we still need to do to protect and restore nature here in the UK.

“That’s why we put into law the requirement to stop the decline of nature and protect the abundance of species, and why we’re committed to increasing the amount of habitat for nature to thrive.

“At the start of the year, I published our comprehensive environmental improvement plan, setting out how we will continue to clean up our rivers, plant more trees and restore our national parks so more iconic species such as red squirrels and hedgehogs have the conditions that need to flourish.

“Protecting and restoring nature is a truly national effort in which we can all play a role. That’s why I welcome the call for Go Wild Once a Week, so that 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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