Celebrating Sir David Attenborough at 90: Decades of devotion to UK wildlife

Sunday 8th May 2016

Sir David Attenborough (c) Tom Marshall.jpgSir David Attenborough (c) Tom Marshall.jpg

The Wildlife Trusts thank David for being the UK’s great supporter of the wild world

While the majority may know him best from his television programmes, The Wildlife Trusts are keen for the nation to recognise Sir David’s dedication to nature conservation in the UK over more than five decades.

• The Wildlife Trusts will be celebrating key moments online – from Sir David’s opening of Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s Gibraltar Point visitor centre in 1974; and the success of the British Wildlife Appeal to his most recent launch of London’s landmark nature reserve, Woodberry Wetlands - and many more!
Find out more about Sir David’s involvement with The Wildlife Trusts, by visiting www.wildlifetrusts.org/Attenborough90.

• Use our archive images of Sir David Attenborough throughout the years at Wildlife Trust projects and nature reserves to illustrate his support of UK nature conservation. View and download images here. Please note these images are available free for use only with this release. They are granted on a one-time use basis, in association with The Wildlife Trusts and the photographer(s) must be credited.


"Contact with the natural world isn't a luxury... it is actually a necessity for all of us"

Sir David Attenborough led The Wildlife Trusts’ British Wildlife Appeal (BWA) in 1985. Using the strap line ‘Tomorrow is too late’, the appeal’s target was to raise £10 million over five years. The aim was to buy and care for land with endangered species and declining habitats; to give everyone a chance to get to know and enjoy wildlife in town and country; and to promote greater public awareness of the threats to wildlife. Sir David took on a gruelling 14-day tour and his lectures were heard by many thousands of people. The British Wildlife Appeal raised £16m for nature conservation around the UK – that’s equivalent to £46m in today’s money!

In 1990, Sir David reflected: “The winds of change were with us. There has been an extraordinary awakening. Even the Prime Minister was commenting on conservation. The situation has got so much worse; everyone now sees that the wood over the hill is threatened and that the hedgerows have gone. We are all much more concerned about the environment. However… almost more important than the money, was the way that numerous people throughout the land worked together to save their local countryside.”

More than a quarter of a century later, and one week before his 90th birthday, Sir David Attenborough launched London Wildlife Trust’s Woodberry Wetlands nature reserve, where he said: “Contact with the natural world isn't a luxury... it is actually a necessity for all of us. All we know about the natural world gives us pleasure, delight, expertise, continuous interest throughout the year - joy on many occasions and solace on sad ones. Knowing about the natural world and being in contact with the natural world is the most precious inheritance that human beings can have.

“We should be grateful indeed for all the work that The Wildlife Trusts have done for children to see the seasons as they pass, to see not just asphalt and concrete and brick - but reeds and willows; to see birds coming up from Africa; to hear above the hubbub of the traffic - birdsong; to catch a glimpse of a kingfisher, one of the most wonderful sights that Britain has to offer - that flash of blue as it flies up-river.”

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, The Wildlife Trusts’ chief executive, said: “Our archives are filled with photographs of Sir David Attenborough visiting or opening Wildlife Trust nature reserves and centres over the last 50 years. He has travelled the length and breadth of the country to do so, and was in Hackney this Saturday last to open Woodberry Wetlands. David has given brilliant lectures and talks and launched numerous campaigns including our British Wildlife Appeal in the 1980s. He has honoured some of our greatest people - not least amongst them Ted Smith. Like us, David cares passionately about the wildlife and countryside of this country and about the fundamental need for children to live close to the natural world. We’re delighted to share some of our archive ahead of David’s 90th birthday so that we can all celebrate his dedication to UK wildlife as well as that of the wider world.”

Notes for editors:
Sir David Attenborough and The Wildlife Trusts

Sir David Attenborough joined the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves (SPNR) - now known as The Wildlife Trusts - as an Associate Member in 1965. He was Chairman of its British Wildlife Appeal between 1985 and 1990. David was The Wildlife Trusts’ President between 1991 and 1995 and is currently President Emeritus. He worked tirelessly throughout the British Wildlife Appeal, undertaking two punishing nationwide lecture tours involving travelling thousands of miles, speaking to 25,000 people at more than 130 venues and raising more than £85,000 in the process.

My Wild Life www.mywildlife.org.uk
Today, The Wildlife Trusts’ My Wild Life campaign encourages everyone to think about how to make wildlife part of our everyday lives – because contact with nature is good for us. Those people lucky enough to live near and experience green spaces have a 50% chance of being more healthy – both physically and mentally and are 40% less likely to become overweight or obese. This is why we are restoring wildlife and wild places in towns and cities as well as in the countryside, and why we are encouraging people from all walks of life to share their own personal stories about what nature means to them. My Wild Life features hundreds of stories from across the UK, with each person explaining why nature matters to them, and the difference it makes to their life.

Sir David Attenborough says: “People turn to nature in moments of joy and in moments of sadness. We are part of the natural world: we depend on it for the air we breathe and the food we eat. The Wildlife Trusts are helping people to understand their role in the natural world and their dependency on it. This is essential if we are going to speed nature’s recovery.”

The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) wildlifetrusts.org
There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We manage around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves and visitor centres receive millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.