At our January event Nick Acheson, Norfolk Wildlife Trust Ambassador and conservation evangelist, held almost 80 of us totally captivated by his breadth of knowledge and passion for the future of Norfolk’s wildlife.

Norfolk born and bred, Nick drew on his personal history and the history of Norfolk Wildlife Trust to paint a picture of the state of Norfolk’s wildlife through the past 100 years. A very sound context for the astute and wide ranging critique of the state of nature and its prospects in Norfolk, set within a global context. Nick skilfully contextualised the fate of many local species within the wider climate crisis.

Drawing on an extensive range of international, as well as local data, Nick demonstrated the complexity of the problems facing the natural world and ourselves within it.

He identified the primary challenges as: 

  • Climate change associated with global warming and the problem of disinformation
  • Habitat loss, primarily in Norfolk due to intensive management of agricultural land
  • Invasive species disrupting the symbiosis necessary for healthy biodiversity
  • Pollution impacting not only on wildlife, but ultimately on the productivity of our soil.

But Nick also gave some inspiring examples of local action taken to help to combat the impact of some of these challenges. He brought us right up to date by noting that at Davos this month, the World Economic Forum has identified the key threats to the global economy as failure to act on climate change and extreme weather as a result of climate change.

So although the picture is grim, Nick was positive in putting forward a 6 point plan outlining how we can all make personal commitments to addressing the situation at hand.

  1. Science: Educate ourselves (and anyone else we can influence) to combat disinformation and adopt behaviours which will have a meaningful impact.
  2. Challenge vested interests: Demand environmentally sensitive development and ethical investment decisions.
  3. Cooperation: Get out of our silos and find common ground beyond our natural allies.
  4. Stop and reverse landscape destruction.
  5. Take personal responsibility: in how we engage in politics, what we buy, how we garden, how we travel, what we eat.
  6. Hope: Value successes in wildlife conservation and don’t give up!

In this summary I haven’t attempted to do justice to the rich range of examples which Nick used to illustrate his message and justify his analysis – but they were there in abundance. About 80 folk came to Ashby and Thurton Village Hall to hear Nick and he was warmly applauded.

If you would like to be part of a conversation with fellow group members about how we may take personal and local action to address some of these challenges, in particular lowering our carbon footprint, we will be holding an open discussion in The Barn at The George and Dragon Pub in Thurton on 5 March at 7.30pm.

Words by Chris Popplewell