04/09/2014
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Attenborough urges business people and politicians to help wildlife

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At yesterday's landmark Conference for Nature, Sir David Attenborough said that businesses and politicians have real power to make a difference in the crisis facing our wildlife.

Speaking at the conference, Sir David said: "We — Homo sapiens — are dependent on the natural world and are part of it. We depend on it for the air we breathe and the food we eat. Some might say we depend on it for our very sanity, and I'm convinced that children brought up without contact with the natural world will live deprived lives."

Addressing conference delegates, including Barry Gardiner MP (Lab), Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP (Lib Dem), writer Germaine Greer and coalition minister Lord de Mauley (Con), Sir David said: "There are problems to be grappled with. If not there will be great impoverishment, physically, spiritually, intellectually. You are administrators, businessmen, executives, people who have decisions which can affect the future of our wildlife."

Sir David went on to cite the "great new challenges" that can be answered by three elements in society: "naturalists, who can tell you what's happening, who understand species and their requirements; politicians, who can help ensure legislation goes through; ... and business executives, [who] in myriad ways help and make sure businesses take account of what goes on around them and [who can] ensure products are in sympathy with the demands of the natural world."

"What is heartening about the community here now — between you, you have the power to deal with it. There are conservationists among you with the expertise but there are also executives and politicians — people who take decisions which really affect wildlife."

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"What you are doing at this conference is of great importance. You can provide the leadership and the decisions."

In May last year, the UK's leading wildlife groups released the State of Nature report, which revealed that 60 per cent of our native species are in decline and one in 10 are heading for UK extinction. More than a year on, report partners are striving to encourage new ways of tackling the crisis facing our wildlife.

More than 250 people attended this seminal conference including leading figures in industry, government and the utility sector, as well as all the UK's major wildlife and countryside organisations, demonstrating the level of ambition for tackling the huge challenges facing nature.