LAST year naturalist and broadcaster, Chris Packham launched the People's Manifesto for Wildlife, a new initiative aimed at halting the drastic decline in British wildlife.

With the aid of 17 independent experts and scientists, the document warned that people are sleepwalking into an "ecological apocalypse", but said everyone could take practical steps themselves, and campaign for broader measures that could yet avert the wholesale destruction of species and habitats.

Replanting hedgerows, including bird boxes on all new-build homes, rewilding uplands and an end to seal culling were just some of the proposals, along with other ideas such as wildlife ponds for every industrial estate and all municipal parks, a pesticide tax, and an end to scallop dredging in UK waters.

"It's time to wake up," said Packham. "We must rouse ourselves from this complacent stupor, because we are presiding over an ecological apocalypse and precipitating a mass extinction in our own backyard. But - vitally - it is not too late. There is hope we can hold to, and there is action we can take."

One man willing to listen to the outspoken TV personality is Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, who recently attended a talk by Packham at the House of Commons, where the naturalist presented the ideas behind the manifesto and discussed with parliamentarians, members of the Lords and environmental organisations on how to implement his People's Manifesto.

"For me the manifesto is about how to support wildlife locally and how to get people to exert pressure on politicians like me to ensure we actually take the appropriate action to get the improvements that need to happen," said Mr Lucas.

"Interest in the environment ebbs and flows and there was a period maybe 10 years ago when it was higher up the political agenda - Ed Miliband for example was very keen on environmental issues and made his name on focussing on those issues, but politicians do respond to political pressure and pressure from their constituents and it is important to make your views known.

"I probably focus now on issues to do with wildlife and the environment more than I ever have in my life, and I think it's possibly to do with getting older - I know a lot of young people are interested in the environment, but I also speak to older people and there's a sense among us that we have a responsibility to look after the world and make sure it remains appealing for the generations to come.

"I raised the point with Chris that it is possible, in quite a short space of time, to turn areas around environmentally. If you think of water quality for example in the Tyne in Newcastle where I was brought up back in the 60s it was terrible, but that has now changed. Despite the fact we get depressed about the environment, we can actually affect change quickly, provided we do the right things, which needs political commitment and what are sometime difficult short-term decisions."

The drastic decline in British wildlife has accelerated in recent years, with main factors being the rise in intensive farming and the destruction of habitats. Farmland bird numbers have more than halved since 1970, while the disappearance of insects went largely unremarked for years.

"I feel like we need to build a consensus and then take quite drastic action," continues Mr Lucas. "A lot of people are still very sceptical about all this and one of the consequences of the current focus being on Brexit is that the steps we need to be taking on environmental issues are not being taken because of the political paralysis in the country.

"Thankfully on a local level around Wrexham I see a lot of positive things going on and when I go into primary schools in particular, they always raise green issues."

Shortly after his visit to Parliament, Packham shared a letter he received containing the warning: "We want you dead."

The BBC Springwatch presenter said he has been the target of abuse after backing a legal challenge which resulted in restrictions on shooting "pest" birds. Packham was part of an action which resulted in Natural England revoking three general licences which allowed the shooting of 16 species of bird, including crows, magpies, Canada geese and feral and wood pigeons.

"I'm used to not everyone agreeing with what you say," laughs Mr Lucas. "Chris does have strong views but he is also a very good communicator and if you look at the programmes he makes, the way he reaches people is very impressive and important. He will present his own views that are sometimes controversial and he was asked some pretty tough questions at this event - there were members of the House of Lords who are farmers and were raising very specific disagreements with him.

"Not everyone is going to agree with all his viewpoints but I think it is good that the discussions are taking place and that he was there to rebut any allegations being made. You have to make the case - Sir David Attenborough does the same - and I feel Chris has an ability to link local issues to bigger issues, which is very important. He is prepared to take people on and sometimes that's what you've got to do if you want change."

For more information on the People's Manifesto for Wildlife go to