David Attenborough delivers poignant mission statement in powerful Netflix doc A Life on Our Planet

The Radio Times, Daily Mail and The Sun report on Netflix’s A Life on Our Planet……

Sir David Attenborough’s new film should be considered mandatory viewing, says Patrick Cremona. If the documentary had consisted of nothing but a castigation of human destruction and a gloomy forecast for our future it would have fostered nothing but a sense of helplessness. Equally, if there was just optimism and reassurance on offer it would have inspired only complacency. It is the combination of these two factors which can truly act as a rallying call to the millions who will hopefully watch this powerful and poignant mission statement from a man who remains the best in the business. 

In his latest powerful and important film, which is getting a global cinema premiere on Monday before a Netflix release six days later, we finally see flashes of Attenborough’s anger. However, his principal emotion is sadness, verging on grief, as with the help of lots of damning statistics he details the many ways in which humankind has, during the span of his own lifetime, wrecked the biodiversity on which all living creatures rely. The planet has been forced to suffer fools, and not at all gladly.

IF you’re expecting an hour and a half of sumptuous scenes of the natural world, with Sir David Attenborough’s rhythmic tones telling you about the mating call of a weird-looking bird, think again. This incredibly important documentary pulls no punches — and will have you reaching for a reusable cup or joining the Greta Thunberg fan club the moment the credits roll…Justifiably, the broadcaster’s lessons often make for uncomfortable viewing, especially when a teary Attenborough utters the words: “We have destroyed the world.” While never being preachy or political, there is perhaps a little too long until the words “ . . . But we can change this . . . ” are said, giving you a full hour of fear before 20 minutes of solution.

Sir David Attenborough photo by ukhouseoflords under creative commons.

Boris Johnson promises to protect 30% of UK’s land by 2030

The BBC reports an extra 400,000 hectares of English countryside will be protected to support the recovery of nature under plans to be announced by Boris Johnson.

The prime minister will make the commitment at a virtual United Nations event later. He is joining a global pledge from 65 leaders to reverse losses in the natural world by the same date.

National parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and other protected areas make up 26% of land in England. Mr Johnson will promise that the government will increase the amount of protected land in the UK from 26% at present to 30% by 2030.

The South Downs from Ditchling Beacon photo by hehaden under creative commons. The South Downs National Park is England’s newest national park, designated in 2010, and, of course, within only thirty minutes drive of Normandy village.

10 years of the British Wildlife Photography awards, in pictures

The Guardian reports the British Wildlife Photography awards is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a retrospective touring outdoor exhibition. The retrospective will for the first time include all the overall winners, along with a selection of category winners and highly commended images. The competition has captured the imagination of photographers from all over the UK, who have created a unique legacy showcasing British wildlife at its best and inspired millions across the world with outstanding wildlife photography. 

Activists sue ministers over release of game birds for shooting

The Guardian reports the campaign group Wild Justice has accused ministers of breaching their legal duties to protect sites of high conservation value in England by failing to control the use of large areas of countryside to shoot pheasant and red-legged partridge for sport. Their judicial review will be heard in the high court in November, as complaints mount about the exemptions given by ministers to the shooting industry to continue field sports during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Slug killer will be banned across the country because of risks to hedgehogs and birds, ministers announce

The Daily Telegraph reports metaldehyde is being banned after campaigners said it poses a threat to hedgehogs and toads. The poison is very effective in killing gastropods but not only reduces prey for animals which eat slugs and snails, such as hedgehogs and toads, but can build up to toxic levels in those animals, as well as pets and birds if eaten. Wildlife campaigners have pushed for a ban for years but after a legal challenge from the slug pellet company plans for legislation were put on hold. These have now been revived. 

Stop clearing out messy brambles to bring Britain’s rarest bird ‘back from the brink’, councils told

The Daily Telegraph reports the willow tit is the fastest-declining  resident bird in the country, and one of the lowest in number, and the numbers have been in sharp freefall because their preferred habitat, shrubland, has been destroyed because of an obsession with neatness…. Government quango Natural England is also planning to compel local authorities to create more ‘untidy’ habitats for creatures including the Willow tit. 

Willow tit photo by yrjö jyske under creative commons.

Countryside improvements fund ‘could be raided’

BBC News reports a budget designed to fund improvements to Britain’s countryside is set to be raided, the BBC has learned. Cash will be diverted away from ambitious conservation projects and towards protecting farm businesses. The government previously promised that the £3bn currently paid to farms under EU agriculture policy would be wholly used to support the environment. Ministers had said that, after Brexit, farmers would have to earn their subsidies. Farmers would secure the case by undertaking actions such as large-scale forestry or catching flood waters. But many farmers complained that they’d go bust unless the environmental actions were made easier to achieve. 

No river in England is free from chemical pollution, government report finds

The Daly Telegraph,  BBC NewsThe Guardian, and The Financial Times report all of England’s rivers have failed their pollution quality tests, meaning the country’s waterways are some of the dirtiest in Europe. The report from Defra found that no river in England is free from chemical pollution. New sampling methods from the Environment Agency found that in all surface water sampled, persistent chemicals were present and being consumed or absorbed by aquatic life. 

River Wey photo by Malcolm Oakley under creative commons.

Cows return to London park for first time in 150 years to act as natural lawnmowers

The Daily Telegraph reports cows have been introduced to Wanstead Park in Northeast London for the first time in 150 years to help regenerate the rare acid grassland. The English Longhorns have been carefully selected from City of London Corporation’s 200-strong herd and will be kept in a smaller zone within the park by cutting-edge GPS collars that send an audible signal to the cows when they stray too far.