A group of UK celebrities is starring in a new film trailer of The Wind in the Willows to “put nature into recovery” and push conservation efforts which could rescue suffering species of plants and animals.
Sir David Attenborough, Stephen Fry, Catherine Tait, Alison Steadman and Asim Chaudhry appear as Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad in the clip created for The Wildlife Trusts’ campaign Wilder Future.
The trailer shows the much-loved characters from the children’s classic facing 21st century threats like road traffic, pollution and destroyed habitats.
Stephanie Hilborne, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “We are a nation of nature-lovers, yet we live in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. If we want to put nature into recovery we have to create a mass movement of people calling for change.”
The Wildlife Trusts lobby for strong environmental laws and work to reverse the wildlife declines of recent decades, emphasising that there is currently no legislation in place to help nature recover.
Sir David Attenborough, President Emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts and narrator of the trailer, said: “We have damaged our rivers, built too many roads and lost too many ponds and meadows. All of this has happened because our systems and laws that should be keeping nature healthy are failing, and we are losing touch with wildlife.
“We need ambitious new laws, laws that ensure we map out nature’s recovery.”
The trailer will be circulated on social media and will be played for two weeks in 500 cinemas across the UK from Friday.
Figures from the Trusts show that 97 per cent of lowland meadows and any wildflowers, insects, mammals and birds that they supported have disappeared in recent decades, while 80% of purple heathlands have vanished (“with their blaeberries, sand lizards and stunning nocturnal birds, nightjars”).
The water vole – Ratty in Kenneth Grahame’s classic – is the UK’s most rapidly declining mammal and has disappeared from nearly 95 per cent of places where it was once found.
Stephen Fry, who plays Badger, said: “I’ve acted in and narrated Wind in the Willows in the past but this version is different – it really, really matters. I adore what’s left of Britain’s wild and precious places and I’m a passionate supporter of my local Wildlife Trust which is restoring a huge part of the fens for nature.
“We all need to get behind The Wildlife Trusts, rise up and call for a wilder future – otherwise it’ll be too late to save Toad, Ratty and all the residents of the riverbank and beyond.”
The campaign is calling for Nature Recovery Networks to protect wildlife sites and map out where wildlife ought to be.
The Wildlife Trusts want the networks to be required by law and for the policy to be in Westminster’s upcoming environmental bill, and for the Scottish and Welsh governments to pass their own versions of the bill.