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Mass Rally in Westminster

…a wake-up call to politicians on nature

Nature and wildlife-lovers are heading to the Houses of Parliament today [Tues 9 Dec] to shake politicians out of the Westminster bubble and get them to take nature seriously.Hundreds of people from across the country are joining the Rally for Nature, which will see them march to Parliament and challenge MPs from all the major parties to make firm commitments for wildlife and the environment in their 2015 election manifestos.Attendees will be asking politicians to defend the existing laws, which protect our most special places for nature; put an end to wildlife crime; and ensure nature’s recovery by introducing a Nature and Wellbeing Act that will put nature at the heart of decision-making.This event is a collaboration between the RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, the League Against Cruel Sports and nature conservationist, Dr Mark Avery. It is also supported by Butterfly Conservation, the Ramblers and the Mammal Society.Stephen Trotter, The Wildlife Trusts’ Director, England, said: “We need wildlife and nature – the health of our economy and communities, education and our own wellbeing are all linked to the health of the natural world. Today’s Rally for Nature offers an opportunity to challenge our political parties to take action for it. People want - and need - to see our natural environment recognised for its true value and contribution to society.”Martin Harper, the RSPB’s Director of Conservation, said: “Last week’s publication of the latest set of Defra UK Biodiversity Indicators revealed a mixed picture for nature and wildlife. While some of the trends are improving others, particularly those covering the state of our species, are deteriorating. Despite all this – and much more well-documented evidence that our beloved natural heritage is disappearing – nature and wildlife remain low on the political agenda."“Next May we will have a General Election and the political parties will be looking to win support. This Rally for Nature is giving a people who care about nature the chance to tell their MP why it matters so much to all of us. We hope they listen.”Joe Duckworth, Chief Executive at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “It’s time for politicians to stand up and take wildlife and nature seriously. Wildlife crime is a widespread problem across the UK with serious impact on both animals and people alike - this needs to stop."“Today’s rally will see us collectively give nature a voice as we come together to demonstrate the importance of protecting it.”Dr Mark Avery, said: “Hen Harriers don't have MPs and don't get to vote - they need us to call on politicians to do far more to end wildlife crime.”The Rally for Nature will start at Church House Conference Centre, Westminster, where there will be keynote speeches from leading figures in nature conservation, followed by a short walk to the Houses of Parliament to meet with MPs.Speaking ahead of the rally, and on behalf of the RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts and League Against Cruel Sports, Bill Oddie, said: “This rally is a coming together of people who love and care about wildlife. Sometimes people are confused about which charity to support. It doesn’t matter here - we are all playing for the same team and trying to make 2015 the year that all political parties take nature seriously.”Alan Parfitt from The Chilterns is attending the Rally. He said: "Living in The Chilterns and not too far from the RSPB Otmoor reserve, I am lucky in that the natural world is close at hand, but for so many other people elsewhere it has almost disappeared. For me, the Rally for Nature is all about the measures necessary to bring Nature much closer to people as well as reversing the loss of wildlife and improving its protection."Jonny Rankin, from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, is also attending. He said: “With the vulnerability of our natural world never more prevalent than now I will be attending the Rally for Nature to remind our MPs of nature’s universal importance."“Taking my favourite bird, the Turtle Dove, in isolation this species has suffered a 96% decline in breeding numbers over the last 30 years. Declines such as that of the Turtle Dove are cross-governmental. It's vital that today's government is reminded whatever happens at the next General Election there will still be the same intent, the same passion and the same unrelenting care for nature. To this end I will be attending the Rally for Nature to speak directly to MPs and be a voice for nature.

RSPB Gemma Hogg

9th December 2014