Environment

Caring Is Not Enough. We Must Act.

From National Geographic's August Issue Guest Editor, Chris Packham Monday, 30 July

By Chris Packham
Photographs By Jo Charlesworth

I’ve been a fan of National Geographic since I was a child. The topics covered in the magazine seemed exotic back then, but as I look through the current issue, I’m struck by how universal they now all are. The illegal persecution of animals is a global matter, whether it’s lions or birds of prey in Peak District National Park. Even butterflies are under threat in Indonesia’s rain forest as well as in Britain’s countryside.

What concerns me most is the loss of biodiversity. If we stress ecosystems by removing significant numbers of critical species, then they will go into terminal decline. If we lose essential pollinators or keystone predators, then we’ll know that we’re in trouble. It’s not only the loss of tigers or elephants, or eagles in the United Kingdom; it’s what these animals do that’s important. We need forest elephants, for example, because as they roam, their dung distributes undigested seeds that replant the forest.

“If we lose essential pollinators or keystone predators, then we’ll know that we’re in trouble.”

by Chris Packham

The August issue isn’t just a catalogue of doom and depression. The Proof article about the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered program that aims to protect rare animals from extinction mixes hope with stupendous images. People are increasingly angry about the way we’re abusing the environment, but we have to use that anger creatively. It’s no longer good enough to say, I care about plastics, or I care about the illegal slaughter of birds. Time has run out and we have to take action. Every now and again we all need a jab with a sharp stick or we become too complacent. I hope you find this issue to be revealing, truthful, and motivational.

The August Issue of National Geographic goes on sale on 1st August.

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