The Wind In The Willows: film trailer highlights habitat loss

The Wind In The Willows: film trailer highlights habitat loss

The Wildlife Trusts has made a film trailer showing Ratty, Badger, Mole and Toad struggling in a post industrial world. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough with voiceovers from Stephen Fry, Alison Steadman, Catherine Tate and Asim Chaudhry, the trailer aim is to give us a glimpse of what could well be the future..if we don't act now

A broken concrete jungle..the Wind In The Willows' characters are struggling

In cinemas from Friday and running for two weeks, The Wildlife Trusts' The Wind In The Willows' trailer puts author Kenneth Grahame's beloved characters in a world where their natural habitat of green pastures, gently flowing rivers and dappled woodlands has given way to roads, river pollution, development and intensive agriculture. What can the animals do to reclaim their birthright? Well, all becomes clear in this animated film narrated by some of our best-loved actors, with narration by David Attenborough. 

The film trailer shows how the lives of Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad are disrupted by industry, development and pesticides – many habitats have been destroyed and others broken up. Toad hangs a picture of a puffin entangled in plastic on the wall in Toad Hall. 'Farewell old friend,' he says.
Kenneth Grahame wrote The Wind in the Willows just over 100 years ago, but since then many of the UK’s wild places and the plants and animals that depend on them have been lost. For example:
97 per cent of lowland meadows and the wildflowers, insects, mammals and birds they supported have disappeared
80 per cent of our purple heathlands have vanished – with their blaeberries, sand lizards and the stunning nocturnal birds, nightjars.
Britain's rivers are in trouble too: only 20 per cent are considered as healthy and 13 per cent of freshwater and wetland species in the UK are threatened with extinction.
the world our animals are living in isn't the one their parents were born in
We say we love nature but we don't do enough to curb the powers of capitalism
Our characters long for a world that looks like this
And this...
Kenneth Grahame’s Ratty – the water vole – is the UK’s most rapidly declining mammal and has been lost from 94 per cent of places where it was once prevalent, and its range is continuing to contract. Toad is also finding times are tough: he has lost nearly 70 per cent of his own kind in the last 30 years alone – and much more than that in the last century.
These losses have led to the UK becoming one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. Over the past 10 years numerous reports and studies have documented wildlife declines in the UK, with the main problems being: 
Habitat loss – mostly caused by intensive farming, inappropriate development and lack of strategic planning, with the few remaining wild places being broken up by roads.
Climate change – which is making a bad situation worse by causing extreme weather. This disrupts breeding patterns, threatens life cycles and creates food shortages. Wildlife cannot always keep up with changes to the seasons.
If you care, speak up
Stephanie Hilborne, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, says if we want to protect our natural environments we will have to do more than lament from the comfort of our armchairs. 'We are a nation of nature-lovers and if we want to put nature into recovery we have to create a mass movement of people calling for change. Our film is a sad version of The Wind in the Willows – showing how Ratty and Toad have hit the buffers – but it ends with a message of real hope. It’s not too late to create strong laws which will help our wildlife make a comeback – and it’s not too late to establish a Nature Recovery Network which will enable us to plan a wilder future.'
Stephen Fry, President of the Great Fen, Wildlife Trust Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, who plays Badger, urges everyone to get involved with nature: 'I adore what’s left of Britain’s wild and precious places and I’m a passionate supporter of my local Wildlife Trust, which is restoring a huge part of the fens for nature. We all need to get behind The Wildlife Trusts, rise up and call for a wilder future.'
Alison Steadman, ambassador for London Wildlife Trust, who plays Mole, says the decline in UK habitats is truly shocking. 'Millions of people in the UK profess a love of wildlife and we need everyone to be taking action to bring about nature's recovery. I wanted to take part in this film to help inspire people to get involved and bring our nature back.'
Asim Chaudhry, who plays Toad, says the film project is a catalyst for change: 'Like many people in the UK I’m shocked by the decline in our wildlife – but this film shows we can reverse this if we all take action now.'
Sir David Attenborough, who's done so much to raise awareness of climate change, says The Wind In The Willows can today be seen as a cautionary tale: 'Of all the characters it's hard to know whose descendants have suffered the most. Water Voles, Toads and Badger’s friends in the book, Hedgehogs, have all seen catastrophic declines.
'Ratty was a Water Vole and these animals can’t burrow into river banks covered with sheets of metal. Toads need ponds and wet areas to lay their eggs.  Hedgehogs must roam miles to feed at night but often hit barriers and struggle to find the messy piles of leaves they need for shelter. None of these creatures can cope with road traffic because they did not evolve to recognise a car as dangerous.
'We have damaged our rivers, built too many roads and lost too many ponds and meadows.  All of this has happened because our systems and laws that should be keeping nature healthy are failing and we are losing touch with wildlife.  
'The Wildlife Trusts have worked tirelessly to slow wildlife’s decline and to save our remaining wild places. Without them our country would be the poorer. But there is much more to be done. This country of nature lovers needs to give its wildlife every chance to survive, thrive and expand its range.
'As a society we know how to put meanders back into straightened rivers and how to build bridges for wildlife. We know which wild places we should be protecting and expanding. But we need ambitious new laws to ensure we do this, laws that ensure we map out nature’s recovery.
'Meanwhile we can all make a practical difference. If you have a window sill or balcony you can put up bird feeders or plant pots of wildflowers. If you have a garden it is easy to dig a small pond or make holes in your fence for hedgehogs to wander through. It's not too difficult to take up paving slabs to let plants grow to feed our bees. 
'Together we can make the next chapter for wildlife a happier one. Join us to put nature into recovery.'