Skip to content
Press release

Saving Our Wild Isles: Sir David Attenborough warns ‘this starts and ends with us’ in new UK nature documentary

a blonde girl, blurred in the background, holds out her hand which holds a toad
A local school pupil holds a toad on Lodge Farm - a nature-friendly farm where ponds, hedges and wildflower margins have proven to be a refuge for over 400 species | © Ben Cherry / Silverback Films

The UK’s three leading conservation charities – the RSPB, the National Trust and WWF will launch a brand new documentary narrated by Sir David Attenborough and produced by Silverback Films this Sunday (9 April).

Saving Our Wild Isles highlights the people working hard to halt the alarming decline in nature as well as focusing on the wildlife and habitats at risk in the UK – one of the most nature depleted counties in the world.

“In this film, we’ll meet inspiring people, young and old, who are working to restore the natural world. And we will discover that we all need to urgently repair our relationship with the natural world. We now have a few short years during which we can still make a choice. Where just enough remains of the natural world for it to recover. This starts and ends with us”, says Sir David Attenborough in the programme.

The documentary is exclusive to the UK’s leading streaming platform, BBC iPlayer, and will be available from 8pm this Sunday 9 April. The film is complementary to the BBC commissioned TV series 'Wild Isles’, also produced by Silverback Films, which comes to an end on Sunday. The new film brings to life the scale and pace of change urgently needed to save nature in the UK. It shows not only what is possible and already happening, but also highlights that in order to save our nature, its recovery needs to become mainstream across our society.

The UK is globally important for nature. But today, one quarter of our mammals and one third (38%) of our birds are at risk of extinction, while 97% of our wildflower meadows have been lost since the 1930s - and we have all been part of the problem.

With nature now at breaking point, and the UK amongst the most nature-depleted countries in the world, the film illustrates how people are working with nature, not against it – from restoring seagrass meadows in North Wales, to nature-friendly farming in Suffolk and the Yorkshire Dales to planting saplings to restore woodland in the Cairngorms National Park.

Saving Our Wild Isles illustrates how people are rising to Sir David’s challenge “to be the first generation that leaves these isles in better shape than we inherited them”. There is already a dedicated and committed movement of people helping nature return from the brink.

Highlights from the documentary include:

  • Our farmland has experienced a disastrous decline in biodiversity, but there is hope. We meet a forward-thinking hill farmer and a large-scale arable farmer who have transformed how they farm, giving nature a chance to thrive.
  • In London, a bird-watching group for people of colour shows that a connection to nature is key for us all.
  • On the coast, a puffin pair raise their chick, but climate change, unsustainable fishing practices and a decline in prey create challenges for them and other seabirds.
  • In Scotland, volunteers plant trees and local conservationists are working hard to restore wildlife to the Cairngorms National Park. Temperate rainforests and ancient oak woodlands provide a refuge for countless species, but today only 13% of the British Isles are covered in woodland.
  • The journey concludes in London’s East End, where volunteers and school children explore and restore the wildlife of a disused dock and a pocket of reedbed.

Explaining why the charities decided to commission the documentary, Beccy Speight, RSPB Chief Executive, Tanya Steele, WWF Chief Executive and Hilary McGrady, National Trust Director General, said: "The scale of the crisis facing UK nature demands that all of us, from all parts of society, take action. From individuals, businesses, governments, we need to work with nature, not against it.

“Incredible work is happening in every corner of the UK, but to turn the nature crisis around requires all of us to play our part. Inspired by the landmark Wild Isles series, we came together to bring to life and celebrate these stories in an effort to inspire more people, businesses and leaders to pick up the baton.

“We are delighted to have worked with world-leading filmmakers Silverback, with Sir David whose powerful narration brings these stories to life, and with the BBC who acquired the documentary for iPlayer to bring it into millions of homes across the country.”

Sir David Attenborough said: “Whilst it’s tempting to think of those on the frontline as the only ones who can make a difference. The truth is, every one of us, no matter where we live, can and must play a part in restoring nature to our isles. Never has it been more important to do this for ourselves and for our wildlife.”

Alastair Fothergill, Silverback Films said: “We at Silverback Films were delighted to have been commissioned by the WWF, the RSPB and the National Trust to produce this uplifting film that celebrates the extraordinary work being done by people working hard to restore nature to our Wild Isles.”

The CEO’s continued: “BBC’s Wild Isles has shown us the scale of the crisis facing nature. It is titanic and we urgently need more people acting for nature. We have the solutions but it will take each and every one of us to turn the tide and leave our lands and seas in a better state for future generations.”

Last month the RSPB, WWF and the National Trust launched the Save Our Wild Isles campaign, urging everyone in society to come together to halt the destruction of UK nature and take urgent action to save it. The campaign highlights not only how nature underpins everything that makes our lives possible, but also how profoundly threatened it is.

The charities say there is just enough of the UK’s natural world still left to save, and if everyone - the public, communities, businesses and our leaders - all urgently work together to aid its recovery, nature can begin to thrive again within the next few decades.

Watch ‘'Saving Our Wild Isles’ on BBC iPlayer from Sunday 9 April at 8pm.