May 30, 2024

The BBC nature presenter Chris Packham joined hundreds of environmental activists in a mock funeral procession for nature to highlight biodiversity loss in the UK.

The march aimed to sound “red for nature” and highlight the UK’s position as “one of the most exhausted countries in the world”, organizers said. It was planned to coincide with Earth Day on April 22.

From the Percy Center in New King Street, “mourners” in the Funeral for Nature procession went to Bath Abbey.

Packham, who gave a eulogy at the protest, said he and fellow “mourners” were there to “scare people a bit” about the state of the natural world, and the “anarchy” we are living in the face if we continue on this path.

Before the march, he uploaded a photo to X of himself and wildlife TV presenter Megan McCubbin dressed in black. Packham said: “Biodiversity collapse is accelerating globally, but there is an alternative.

“If the political will exists, we can restore nature on a landscape scale. We must restore nature now.”

Members of the Red Rebel Brigade, who wear red outfits and white face paint, are part of an international group whose members protest through performance art.

Saturday’s march of 400 Red Rebels was the largest gathering to date, five times more than ever before, organizers said. Hundreds of “mourners” also attended, dressed in black.

The Red Rebels march at the Funeral for Nature marches in Bath, England. Photo: Joao Daniel Pereira/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

On the Code Red for Nature websitewho gave information about the event, people were told to come dressed in black, including shoes.

Guidance on the page also urged people not to bring banners or posters because the “visual appearance” of the march was “part of the strategy” to help raise awareness.

It said: “Please come dressed in all black, including shoes… No banners or placards please. It will not be a protest. The uniform visual appearance is very much part of the strategy.”

In a speech, Packham said some of the UK’s wildlife and habitats were in a “last resort” and urged people to “act more bluntly and boldly, boldly now” by calling on the government to end fossil fuels to close and switch more quickly to renewable energy.

“It is time to fight for nature,” he said. “I think we’re here to tell people: do you really want to wait until you attend the real funeral for nature, because it’s coming fast.”

Packham said the UK must “address our biodiversity” and ensure we have “sustainable ecosystems in the future” to avoid “anarchy”.

He added: “It’s not like we don’t have a toolkit to repair, restore, restore and reintroduce nature. We do, but we just have to get on with it … I think we’re here to scare people a little bit.”

Organizers cited the 2023 State of Nature report on the UK’s biodiversity, which found that 43% of UK bird species are in decline and 97% of wildflower meadows have disappeared since the Second World War. They warned that we are “entering the sixth mass extinction event”.

Orders of service were also handed out to onlookers and contained information about nature’s deterioration.

Rob Delius, one of the organisers, said: “The intention is to send a powerful SOS message to nature by creating a visual spectacle that will shock and inspire bystanders in equal measure.

“The UK has been sleepwalking through this nature crisis and the fact that we are now one of the most nature-rich countries in the world is simply not being talked about enough.

“We want the marches to create a talking point and for the public to be moved to demand that the government, local authorities, landowners and businesses urgently do more to restore biodiversity.”

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