Stars speak up for wildlife in new film trailer hitting cinemas this weekend

Sir David Attenborough, Stephen Fry, Catherine Tate, Alison Steadman and Asim Chaudhry have backed a new Wilder Future campaign from The Wildlife Trusts that calls for nature’s recovery in the UK.

The conservationist and actors have starring roles in a new The Wind in the Willows film trailer which brings to life the 21st century threats facing the much-loved characters from Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic. The animated trailer calls on everyone to help bring our wildlife back before it’s too late so that we can all enjoy a wilder future.

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. 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 film trailer shows how the lives of Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad are disrupted by roads, river pollution and intensive agriculture – many habitats have been destroyed and others have been broken up.

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.

Kenneth Grahame wrote The Wind in the Willows just over a hundred years ago. Since then, many of the UK’s wild places and the plants and animals that depend on them have been lost.

  • 97% of lowland meadows and the beautiful wildflowers, insects, mammals and birds that they supported have disappeared;
  • 80% of our beautiful purple heathlands have vanished – with their blaeberries, and sand lizards.
  • Rivers are in deep trouble too: only 20% are considered as healthy and 13% of freshwater and wetland species in the UK are threatened with extinction.

In Northern Ireland, once familiar species such as barn owls, red squirrels and hedgehogs are becoming increasingly rare, and the habitats they rely on are shrinking as we change our landscape.

These losses have led to the UK becoming one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. Over the past ten years, there have been numerous reports and studies documenting wildlife declines in the UK. The main problems for wildlife are:

  • Habitat loss – mostly caused by intensive farming, inappropriate development and lack of strategic planning, with the few remaining wild places being broken up by roads.
  • Climate change – which is making a bad situation worse by causing extreme weather. This disrupts breeding patterns, threatens life cycles and creates food shortages. Wildlife cannot always keep up with changes to the seasons.

The Wildlife Trusts hope The Wind in the Willows film trailer will inspire a mass movement of people to help wildlife by calling for strong environmental laws which will help nature recover, taking action for wildlife in their garden or local area, or by getting involved with their local Wildlife Trust.

Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough (c) Penny Dixie

President Emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts and narrator of the trailer, Sir David Attenborough says:

“It is desperately sad that so much of our country’s wildlife has been lost since Kenneth Grahame wrote his wonderful book The Wind in the Willows.  Of all the characters in the book, it is hard to know whose descendants have suffered the most. Water Voles, Toads and Badger’s friends in the book, Hedgehogs, have all seen catastrophic declines.

“Ratty was a Water Vole and these animals can’t burrow into river banks covered with sheets of metal. Toads need ponds and wet areas to lay their eggs.  Hedgehogs must roam miles to feed at night but often hit barriers and struggle to find the messy piles of leaves they need for shelter. None of these creatures can cope with road traffic because they did not evolve to recognise a car as dangerous.

“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.  Everything is becoming disconnected. 

“The Wildlife Trusts have worked tirelessly to slow wildlife’s decline and to save our remaining wild places.  Without The Wildlife Trusts, our country would be the poorer.  But there is much more to be done.  This country of nature lovers needs to give its wildlife every chance to survive, thrive and expand its range.

“I am backing The Wildlife Trusts’ campaign to rally people to secure a ‘wilder future’ by restoring large areas of wildlife habitat, in city and country.  What we create may not look exactly like the countryside that Kenneth Grahame drew such inspiration from, but our wildlife won’t mind just so long as it has the places it needs to live and thrive. 

“As a society we know how to put meanders back into straightened rivers and how to build bridges for wildlife. We know which wild places we should be protecting and expanding.  But we need ambitious new laws to ensure we do this, laws that ensure we map out nature’s recovery.

“Meanwhile we can all make a practical difference.  If you have a window sill or balcony you can put up bird feeders or plant pots of wildflowers.  If you have a garden it is easy to dig a small pond or make holes in your fence for hedgehogs to wander through. It is not too difficult to take up paving slabs to let plants grow to feed our bees. 

“Together we can make the next chapter for wildlife a happier one. Join us to put nature into recovery.”

Join our campaign for a wilder future

(c) Jon Hawkins Surrey Hills Photography