The new river channel at Goldrill Beck.

National Trust, RSPB and WWF combine in major call to restore nature

Charities marshal their combined memberships of 8.5 million to restore nature as Attenborough's latest series airs amid tension between BBC episode choice and farmer criticism.

Communities, businesses and leaders are being urged to play their part in restoring nature and help the UK reverse its position in the bottom 10 per cent of the world’s most nature depleted countries.

The new campaign, called Save our Wild Isles, is the first time the National Trust, WWF and RSPB have collaborated on such a level and comes alongside the launch of David Attenborough’s new series Wild Isles.

Airing last night (12 March) for the first episode, the series explores “the wonder but also the fragility” of nature across the UK.

But its launch was overshadowed by a Guardian report that the BBC had refused to air a so-called sixth episode, filmed for the Save our Wild Isles campaign, for fear of a “right wing backlash” around a starker look at nature losses and concepts like rewilding.

“Saving Our Wild Isles, which the Guardian article refers to is a complementary documentary to the Wild Isles TV series. It is produced by WWF, National Trust and RSPB, and has been acquired by iPlayer. A date will be announced in due course. We want as many people as possible to see this documentary,” a spokesperson for WWF said.

The three charities have 8.5 million combined members and are using their collective voice to call on all sectors of society.

They want the public to ‘go wild once a week’, through things like making space for nature by planting wildflower seeds or getting involved in local community projects.

It will form part of the upcoming People’s Plan for Nature, a huge effort to mobilise the public interest in nature restoration in the UK and to help influence strong policies and government action, following a series of citizen assemblies over winter.

A new YouGov poll, commissioned for the Save Our Wild Isles campaign, found three quarters of people in the UK are worried about the state of nature, and over two thirds (68 per cent) said the UK government is doing too little to tackle nature loss. 

The heads of WWF, the National Trust and the RSPB are working together: Tanya Steele, Hilary McGrady and Beccy Speight

The UK is in the bottom 10 per cent of countries globally for protecting nature, but over half of those asked (55 per cent) mistakenly believe that it is on a par with the rest of the world or even doing better. 

“The amazing wildlife and wild places that make the UK so special are being destroyed at terrifying speed,” read a joint statement from the head of the National Trust, Hilary McGrady, chief executive of the RSPB Beccy Speight, and WWF chief executive, Tanya Steele.

“Huge numbers of animals, birds and habitats have been quite literally wiped out in our own lifetimes and we must now accept that without urgent and collective action, our economy, the climate and the stability of future generations living in our wild isles all face a ticking timebomb,” they said.

Traditionally home to huge range of wildlife, from puffins to orcas, bees and beavers, in the last 50 years, 38 million birds have vanished from UK skies, 97 per cent of wildflower meadows have been lost since the 1930s and a quarter of all our mammals, including water voles and Greater mouse-eared bats, are at risk of extinction.

The UK is in the bottom 10 per cent of countries globally for protecting nature. Image National Trust.

“It is a massive 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, coasts, urban spaces, transport networks, energy supplies and communities for nature. We just need much more of it,” the three women wrote.

Sir David Attenborough has also said: “The truth is, every one of us, no matter who we are, or where we live, can and must play a part in restoring nature.

“It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or powerless by the scale of the issues facing our planet, but we have the solutions. I am hopeful for the future, because although nature is in crisis, now is the time for action, and together we can save it.” 

In the poll, there was also overwhelming support (83 per cent) for all political parties coming together to devise an action plan for protecting nature, while 80 per cent of people backed harsher penalties for businesses that contribute to the decline in nature.

The Attenborough series comes as a major new subsidy programme to pay farmers to protect nature on their land gets off the ground.

During the airing of Wild Isles last night, farmers took to social media to criticise the new payments, known as Elms, for not going far enough to reverse the huge declines and trajectory of intensive farming and nature depletion, which are worsened by things like trade deals and cheap food. Farming and nature are briefly touched on in episode one of Wild Isles, in shots of nature-rich haymeadows, which must be maintained by farmers following dedicated nature-friendly practices.

Wild Isles is on BBC One on Sundays at 7pm or on iPlayer.


Leave a Reply

  1. One of the reasons public opinion hardened against courageous groups like Extinction Rebellion was because the government told people the UK had this issue under control. But this was a bald lie.

    Take as an example, the years the government misled us about the health of our rivers. Finally, the public is aware of sewage overflow happening thousands of times a year, and yet the government just voted to make it even easier for water companies to pollute.

    I’m sure generations from now, people will say we didn’t know any better, the way people do now about our ancestors’ cruelties. But we do know, and yet we continue. We keep up our politely proud, excuse-driven ecocide.

    Let the Right Wing backlash begin. They are not fond of facts or science anyway, or anything that requires effort and empathy. I have experienced this personally and felt very alone, but one has to keep up the constructive rebellion at every opportunity.

  2. It’s fantastic to hear about these three organizations doing rewilding work and of course discouraging to see some still insist words like rewilding are dangerous or unwanted.
    We should all remember that even as individuals
    With small plots of land can practice smaller scale rewilding and create rewilded havens in our gardens and lawns. I really loved reading rewilding and learning about what other large landowners have done for nature.

    I wasn’t sure how to start as a single woman with only a small cottage and garden but I really wanted to do something more then just shout or support places with donations. I found an online how to source at It has tons of step by step guides and photos of how we can all take action in our own spaces however small to improve threats to bio diversity. Its really taught me how even the smallest actions can be beneficial.


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