The UK has a long history of studying our nature. We are a nation of naturalists. Our island has raised some of the best-known naturalists in the world, including Charles Darwin, David Attenborough and Jane Goodall. We love our nature, and despite this, we’ve become one of the most nature depleted nations in the world.
Our highly-managed landscape has pushed wildlife to the fringes of human development—and unless we make radical changes—we will lose the wildlife that we love. Biodiversity is the cornerstone of a healthy and sustainable existence and it’s no exaggeration to say that humans cannot live without it.
UK Youth for Nature is the leading youth movement calling on governments to tackle climate change and reverse nature loss. In the lead up to the UN biodiversity summit (COP15 this summer), we’re running a creative campaign to raise awareness about UK biodiversity loss and to put political pressure on governments taking part in COP15 to make serious promises about restoring biodiversity.
On 23 March, a 50-foot sand drawing was created on Scarborough beach, depicting four biologically significant British species—Eurasian curlew, oak, Eurasian beaver and Atlantic salmon. This group was carefully chosen to include keystone, bioindicator and flagship species. The result? A group of four species that added up to much more than the sum of their parts. This biological mega-drawing was created as the sun rose and as the North Sea tide went out. As the waves washed up in the late afternoon, all four species were washed away. The creation—and destruction—of our artwork symbolises British biodiversity loss. If we stay on the same trajectory, the one we’ve been on for the last few decades, these species (and much of what that they represent) will be washed out of our landscape forever.
The state of wildlife decline in the UK reflects a global biodiversity crisis. The timing of our campaign is significant as, while our drawing was being created in Scarborough, government negotiators gathered in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss the 2030 global deal on nature. There, they will agree global goals to halt and (we hope) reverse biodiversity loss. And later this year—at the bigger summit in Kunming, China—the deal will be concluded. There’s no doubt that big pledges will be made at this meeting, but the promises made back in 2020 were all missed.
The key, this time, is to make the restoration of biodiversity the top priority.
UKY4N is really excited to be supported by Zero Hour on our biodiversity stunt. We share the same values for nature restoration, and on the need for political pressure to create lasting changes, like the CEE Bill. Where we also agree is on the need for a societal shift towards a sustainable and biodiverse future, where everyone’s included.
Finding a sustainable balance between socio-economic needs and the needs of wildlife will also require a pragmatic, down-to-earth approach. We need to live alongside nature, enabling both humans and nature to flourish. For this to happen, restoring and protecting biodiversity must be enshrined in law. And the political promises and targets for nature loss must be upheld.
Those in power must appreciate that protecting and restoring biodiversity is not a choice. It’s essential for the preservation of thousands of species—including our own.