Young people shaping the State of Nature Report 2019
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by Kabir Kaul
On 4th October, an historic and informative report titled ‘State of Nature 2019’ was published by more than 50 organisations. The report highlights how we have contributed to wildlife population trends in the UK. Most of the data used in the report are from citizen science projects, schemes which encourage the public to record what they see and submit it to conservation organisations.
This year, the report has been led by young conservationists, writing its foreword and presenting it. The report is the third of its kind, with one published every three years, and it focuses on how human impacts are affecting the UK’s biodiversity.
I got involved in the report through the RSPB, which was a great honour. Twelve young conservationists were selected from across the country, and we all worked together on launching the report through social media, and writing the report’s foreword, a compilation of quotations, on what nature means to each of us. It was fabulous to work with young people from all around the UK, and listen to their views on the natural world, whether it be how it benefits them in their daily lives, or the population trends of wildlife around them, which I found fascinating.
I found that the opportunity for young people to write the report’s foreword was quite poignant, as it is the future of the next generation, and generations to come, which will ultimately be affected by the climate and ecological crises. It gives a picture on how essential nature and wildlife is to young people in the UK, and that it must be preserved, for our benefit.
When I read the report’s findings, I was filled with shock and sadness, to see how brutally we have persecuted our wildlife through agricultural management and urbanisation, among other ways. I cannot imagine the UK without iconic species such as puffins and pine martens, and what saddened me even more was that in the urban environment, which I live in, species have declined by 47% since 1970: we are turning a blind eye to the wildlife we share our doorstep with.
After the report’s release, the whole country, especially young people, should take action. You may feel that change is out of our hands, but we can start on our doorsteps. This could be as simple as hanging bird feeders and cleaning them regularly.
You could create a pond out of a container, or plant wildflowers. You could even contact local developers, advising them to make their buildings sustainable, and volunteer on your local green space. Importantly, recording is key: keeping a count of the wildlife around you and submitting it to wildlife organisations helps to shape the next report.
The byproduct of all this is a coexistence between people and wildlife: an improved state of mind, sustainable living and better connections between communities.