In an article titled Where Wild Things Were back in the Summer issue of Natural World, the Wildlife Trusts wrote about ‘shifting baselines’ — the phenomenon whereby we lack ambition in conservation projects because we forget how rich the natural world once was. Since the 1940s the UK has lost 40% of its reedbeds, 46% of ancient woodland, and 96% of its hay meadows. The loss of habitats is reflected in the species that dwell in them: numbers of common toads fell by 50% between 1985 and 2000, and the bullfinch saw declines of 75% in farmland and 47% in woodland between 1968 and 1991.
Similar losses are seen in habitats around the world. The Sumatran rainforest has been decimated over the past fifty years, but now the RSPB, along with their Birdlife International Partners Burung Indonesia, have a plan: they will move from mere conservation to restoration, and will plant a million trees to reconnect the remaining fragments of the Harapan rainforest (see map above). Each £2 donated will pay for one tree — you can donate online on the Harapan One Million Tree Appeal micro-site, and UK taxpayers can use gift aid to increase the value of their donation by 28%. It’s a great feeling to know that 32 trees will be planted in a rainforest on the other side of the world due to my donation.