Chris Packham – Peoples Manifesto

A Peoples Manifesto for Wildlife


Was conceived to publish a set of informed ideas from a parliament of strong, independent voices. Ideas which, if implemented today, would make a huge difference for wildlife tomorrow.


Presents a series of essays by 18 Ministers highlighting some of the most critical concerns affecting the UK landscape and its species, each accompanied by ten commandments – ‘no-brainer’ solutions to the problems.


Has been written to be accessible to everyone with an interest in the health of our countryside and a respect for the species that live there. It is not a dull, dry report – please read it yourselves! Don’t just read what someone else says about it.


Has a sister in the form of a free-to-download, fully referenced document. What you read here is supported by rigorous research and science.


Is deliberately incomplete. It covers issues which specifically apply to wildlife and its conservation – somewhat artificial given that many wider environmental factors exert enormous pressures upon both. There are also obvious ‘missing ministries’ . . . it is presented as a first draft, in hope and expectation of response.


Is yours. It is freely open to future contributions – we urgently need more ideas, discussion and debate to move conservation in the UK forward and cease the war on wildlife. Please distribute and please contribute.

“Between 1970 and 2013, 56% of UK species declined . . . of the nearly 8,000 species assessed using modern criteria, 15% are threatened with extinction. . . . this suggests that we are among the most nature-depleted countries in the world.”

“Of the 218 countries assessed for ‘biodiversity intactness’, the UK is ranked 189, a consequence of centuries of industrialisation, urbanisation and overexploitation of our natural resources”.

State of Nature Report, 2016

It’s horrifying. Depressing. Disastrous. And yet somehow we have grown to accept this as part of our lives – we’ve normalised the drastic destruction of our wildlife.

To our shame, we are careless with our language. We say that ‘we’ve lost 97% of our flower rich meadows since the 1930s’ or that ‘we’ve lost 86% of the Corn Bunting population’. We speak of ‘a loss of 97% of our Hedgehogs’. Loss , lost . . . as if this habitat and these species have mysteriously disappeared into the ether, as if they’ve accidentally vanished. But they haven’t – they’ve been destroyed.

Our lazy, self-excusing terminology is representative of our chronic acceptance of such appalling catastrophes. We share these shocking statistics amongst ourselves like a vicious game of top trumps – to the extent that they have lost their meaning. We’ve forgotten that they are a death toll, that they are the dwindling voices of vanished millions, a tragic echo of a recent time of plentiful life.

It’s time to wake up. We must rouse ourselves from this complacent stupor, because 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.

In July this year I conducted a UK Bioblitz and with the help of 785 recorders and 13 recording centres our team clocked up a notable 4828 different species. Lots of exciting plants, animals and fungi – but also lots of passionate, energetic, skilful, imaginative and creative conservationists. Some were in gardens, some in community wildlife areas, others on wildlife-friendly farms or big flashy nature reserves – all were making a difference in their own important and impressive ways. We have plenty of tools in the conservation box – we can rebuild, restore, reinstate or reintroduce. But we have one collective handicap – we are shying away from seeing the bigger picture. Too often we distract ourselves with projects which work, but which are too small to stop the rot. Another successful dormouse re-introduction is great, but it’s not going to help redress the degradation of our landscape. We know the bigger issues we need to deal with, and we must summon the courage to face them and fight to fix them. Together.

So all you farmers, foresters, reserve wardens, teachers, students and children, all of you ‘ologists’, scientists, artists, writers and bloggers, you activists, volunteers, gardeners, can everyone please see that this is not your last chance to make a difference – it’s ours. The UK’s conservation community cannot be selfish. We must let bygones be bygones, all put our egos back in the box and  forget about corporate strategies or ‘our competitors’. We do not all have to agree about all the details – but we must agree on a shared agenda. We must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all of those who care enough to take some action and be part of making a difference.

OUR wildlife needs US – and it needs YOU more than ever.

Download the manifesto