The ‘State of Nature’ report published today is important. It signals a pivotal moment in our relationship with wildlife in the UK. It clearly outlines the tremendous challenges that the nature conservation movement faces as species and habitats have declined in recent decades, and as we look to a future where our demands on the land are increasing. Yet we mustn’t see this as a lost cause. It shows that we need to focus on two things – making more room for nature, and making more time for nature.
Everyone involved in nature has started to think big about how we can create the space for nature. The Natural Environmental White Paper in England and the twelve Nature Improvement Areas have been important in moving us in the right direction. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg; we need more of these areas in England and need to be bolder in how we connect places that are important for nature across the rest of the UK.
We also need to make more time for nature. Last year the National Trust published its ‘Natural Childhood’ report which documented the decline in the relationship that kids have with the natural world. This is something which has happened in just one generation. This new report underlines the urgency and need for action to reconnect children with wildlife for their own wellbeing but also for creating a generation that gets the value and importance of the natural world.
If this was an end of year report at school then the conservation sector would need to do better in terms of how nature is faring across the UK.
But there is hope. When conservation organisations work together positive change can happen. We work closely with a wide range of conservation partners from Butterfly Conservation to Buglife and the BTO to RSPB helping to create the right conditions for wildlife to flourish in the places we care for. We are also working closely with a wide range of partners in establishing a “Wild Network” to create more opportunities for children to connect with nature. Yet in both cases the answer has to be bigger than the nature conservation movement alone – nature needs everyone’s support right now.
David Bullock is Head of Nature Conservation at the National Trust.