A group of nature conservation, wildlife and animal welfare charities are calling on people in Somerset to visit the Houses of Parliament next week to help put nature firmly on the political agenda.
On Tuesday 9 December, hundreds of people from across the country are joining the Rally for Nature. This event will see them march to Parliament and challenge MPs from the major parties to make firm commitments for wildlife and the environment in their 2015 election manifestos.
In particular, they will be asking politicians to defend the existing laws that protect our most special sites for nature; to put an end to wildlife crime, and to ensure nature’s recovery by introducing a Nature and Wellbeing Act that will put nature at the heart of decision making.
Many wildlife charities committed
The event is a collaboration between the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts, the League Against Cruel Sports and nature conservationist Dr Mark Avery. It is also supported by Butterfly Conservation, the Ramblers and the Mammal Society.
Simon Nash, Somerset Wildlife Trust CEO said: “Nature has the potential to help solve many of our social, economic and environmental problems, yet currently we undervalue it and do not protect it as we should.
“Nature is fundamental to our everyday life, providing clean air, food, fuel and resources for shelter. For this to continue, we need a healthy environment for nature to look after us, we need to look after nature. To do this requires public policy, which is what we are calling on the political parties to recognise during the Rally for Nature.”
Tony Richardson, Regional Director for RSPB in the South West said: “The State of Nature Report published last year showed that our wildlife is under pressure, with six out of ten species surveyed showing declines over the past 50 years. Here in the West Country we are working hard to reverse declines, with notable successes including bittern and cirl bunting. But there’s still a lot of work to be done if we are to reverse declines.
“We need to show our politicians we value our local landscapes and wildlife, and that we want future generations to have the chance to enjoy them.”
Michael Stephenson, Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports said: “It’s time for politicians to stand up for wildlife. Wildlife crime is widespread across the UK, taking place in rural and urban areas with serious impact on both animals and people alike. Wildlife criminals must be brought to justice and nature and wildlife raised on the political agenda.”
The Rally for Nature will start at Church House Conference Centre, Westminster, where there will be keynote speeches from leading figures in nature conservation, followed by a short walk to the Houses of Parliament to meet with MPs.
The Rally for Nature is free but participants need to register by visiting this site.
Photograph © Diane Jones