Sir David Attenborough has issued a call to arms for nature’s role to be recognised in the fight against climate change.
In a short film made by The Wildlife Trusts for Cop26, which starts on Monday, Sir David calls for a greater focus on nature’s power to store carbon and help fight the climate crisis.
He also asks for “bold action” and support for local communities and landowners so they can create connected wild places on land and at sea to protect humanity.
World leaders will gather for the summit in Glasgow to discuss how best they can help combat the climate crisis following the Paris Agreement in 2015.
In the short film, Sir David says: “Nature has been there for us when we needed it the most yet we have allowed our natural world and climate to reach breaking point, with almost half of our UK wildlife in decline and some of our best-loved species at risk of extinction.
“As the climate emergency intensifies, the threat to life on earth becomes ever greater. But we have the choice of a better – and wilder – future. A future where wildlife thrives alongside people. A future where nature helps us in the fight against climate change.
“We know that we need to stop burning fossil fuels, but we must also recognise the role of nature in helping us turn the tide. We must bring wildlife and wild places back on an ambitious scale, in turn creating new livelihoods and protecting the planet for future generations. Our lives depend on it.”
In the film, Sir David tells how nature has “extraordinary powers” to lock up carbon dioxide and help protect us from extreme weather and flooding.
He added: “For decades, The Wildlife Trusts have been leading the way to put nature into recovery; bringing back precious saltmarsh and peatlands; and reintroducing beavers, our natural water engineers. But we can’t do it alone.
“It’s not too late to win the fight against the climate and nature crisis. Given the chance, nature can recover in the most remarkable ways.
“But we need to act quickly. The time is now to create a wilder future.”
Craig Bennett, the chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, added: “Our society faces a huge challenge with the inextricably linked climate and nature crisis, and so we must invest far more in wilder landscapes to store carbon and protect ourselves and wildlife from extreme weather conditions.
“New research shows that the Government needs to commit at least £1.2 billion extra each year in nature – to deliver vital health, wellbeing and economic benefits post-pandemic, limit and mitigate the impact of extreme weather, and restore our treasured wildlife. It’s not too late to repair habitats on a grand scale to store carbon and help nature recover – but we need to act now.”