Three weeks ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Buckingham Palace has accepted a 100,000 strong petition that requested the Royal Family rewild their land in order to boost wildlife and help fight climate change. The procession was led by naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham.
On Saturday 9th October 2021, hundreds of children and families marched through Green Park in central London to Buckingham Palace. Chris Packham spoke to the crowd, and school strikers’ choir SOS from the Kids (as seen on Britain’s Got Talent) led a singalong to the Royals.
Following a surprise communication from the Royal Household to the campaign, leading school striker Simeon Macaulay, 14, was permitted to enter the palace grounds and hand the petition to a waiting member of royal staff, raising hopes that a major rewilding commitment from the royals may be imminent. The petition, organised by campaign groups Wild Card and 38 Degrees, is thought to be the first ever environmental petition to be accepted by the palace.
Speaking outside the royal gates, Chris Packham said: “I am thrilled the Royal Household has agreed to accept our petition. With the Royal Family due to attend COP26 as our climate ambassadors next month, now is the perfect opportunity for them to start walking the walk on their own vast estates. Returning degraded royal landscapes like grouse moors and deer-stalking estates to wild nature would show inspiring leadership in the midst of the climate and ecological crisis we face.”
Speaking after entering Buckingham Palace to deliver the petition by hand, school-striker Simeon Macaulay said: “I couldn’t believe it when I found out I’d be allowed to enter Buckingham Palace to deliver the petition. It was crazy! It feels like the Royals are actually listening to us and might take action soon. With the climate crisis getting worse and worse, rewilding royal land would be a huge step towards saving our future.”
The Royal Family owns 850,000 acres in total, but sadly, much of this land has less tree cover and is in a worse state for wildlife than the rest of the UK. Much of Balmoral, owned by the Queen, and Dartmoor, owned by Prince Charles, would naturally be covered in rare temperate rainforest, but today only tiny fragments remain. Elsewhere, according to ecologists, royal estates would naturally be home to beavers, golden eagles, elk, wolves, white storks, pine martens and wild boar.
Chris Packham attended the procession the day after an attack on his home in the New Forest, Hampshire, when masked figures drove a car up to his gates and set it on fire, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to his property. Despite the attack, however, the TV star said he would not be intimidated. Addressing the arsonists, he said: “You burned down the wrong gates … I cannot let your intimidation sway me from my course.
“I’m delighted that the Royal Family are being more and more outspoken about ambitious environmental action,” the broadcaster said, “but words without action risks accusations of hypocrisy. By rewilding their estates, the Royals could become the real environmental heroes we so desperately need.”
Main image credit: The rewilding petition was presented to Buckingham Palace on Saturday 9th October 2021. /Credit: Andrea Domeniconi