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If you haven’t yet watched ‘A Life on Our Planet’ a nature and ecology documentary starring Sir David Attenborough, you need to schedule a living-room sitting as soon as possible. The broadcaster recounts the most memorable aspects of his life and reveals the shocking changes that have taken place over the 94 years since he has lived on the planet Earth. But why should any of us care, and what's it got to do with gardens?
During the first half of the programme, he grieves the loss of so many wild places and creatures whilst recording the monumental scale of humanity’s impact on the world in what he terms a ‘witness statement’.
This might seem to be a depressing way to spend 90 minutes or so, but it makes compulsive viewing. Indeed, viewers are gripped from the outset during scenes showing Sir David wandering through the ghost town of Chernobyl, pictured above. Decades after the disaster that saw an explosion within a nuclear reactor, the radioactive site at Chernobyl has been reclaimed by nature. It is fascinating to witness wild animals, including wolves and the endangered Przewalski’s Horse (pictured below), calmly enjoying the deserted buildings and treating this new wilderness as their safe haven. Trees, vines and plant life have reclaimed the streets and now weave their way through concrete, including an old amusement park. The area is so intriguing and outstanding that the Ukrainian Government has decided to make the zone into a tourist site, with strict time limits on visiting.
During the second half of this moving documentary, the famed naturalist acknowledges the catastrophic loss of the planet’s biodiversity whilst finding a way forwards. This is a powerful call to action – a plea to humanity to change things for the better for the sake of every living thing on the planet. What’s more, he encourages viewers to believe that we can prevent another mass extinction by immediate action by each and every one of us.
There is no excuse to ignore the need to phase out fossil fuels, allow fish stocks to replenish, reduce the area of land we use for farming by changing our diets and stabilising the human population. Not by restricting birth rates but by education, healthcare and raising people out of poverty.
Never think you can’t make a difference. There are three major things that everyone can do immediately:
- Reduce waste. Stop throwing things away. Don’t waste food, power, packaging and don’t over-consume.
- Respect nature in each and every outdoor space that you control. Don’t kill spiders and crane flies, they are vital members of the food chain. Allow plant seed heads to remain during the autumn and winter. Leave leaves on the beds and create woodpiles and untidy areas where creatures can over-winter in peace.
- Spread the word. Educate other people by passing on knowledge and wisdom regarding the natural world. Excite people into believing they CAN make a difference – and they will.
There's an additional, easy step that most people can take to help re-green the planet:
Plant more living things outdoors. Fill your gardens with plants. They produce oxygen, soak up pollution, anchor the soil, provide habitats for bugs and garden creatures, they produce flowers with nectar and fodder for bugs.What's more, they look amazing too.
Buy plants, garden products and garden gifts: Perfectplants.co.uk. Delivery to your UK door.