Chris Packham joins hundreds in ‘funeral procession’ for natural world

Red Rebels take part in a Funeral for Nature procession in Bath
Red Rebels take part in a Funeral for Nature procession in Bath -Credit:PA

Hundreds of protesters including broadcaster Chris Packham have marched in a “funeral procession” for the natural world destroyed by climate change. Some protesters dressed in red and hundreds more wearing black walked through the streets of Bath, Somerset, on Saturday (April 20).

“Mourners” in the performance art piece walked to a drum beat and carried a willow funeral bier of a mother earth figure, created by artist Anna Gillespie. Environmentalist Mr Packham wore a black tie with an Extinction Rebellion logo as he spoke to the crowd.

The protest aimed to sound “code red for nature” and highlight “the UK’s position as one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world”, ahead of Earth Day on Monday (April 22). Members of the Red Rebel Brigade, wearing red outfits and white face paint, were part of an international troupe whose members protest through performance art pieces.

Saturday’s procession of 400 Red Rebels was the largest gathering so far, five times more than ever before, organisers said. They said that groups had come from the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark, and across the UK, for the procession, which was also organised by Extinction Rebellion.

Ms Gillespie said: “Unlike conventional protests, the procession will be free of banners or placards. Instead we are relying on the strong imagery of the huge assembly of Red Rebels and the impact of the figure of Mother Nature on a funeral bier carried by mourners to get the message across.

“Everyone participating has a powerful desire to express their desperate feelings of loss and fear as the natural world struggles to survive in the face of our human onslaught.”

Organisers said 43% of UK bird species were in decline, 97% of wildflower meadows have disappeared since the Second World War, and the world is entering its “sixth mass extinction event”.

“Orders of service” were handed to bystanders that contained information on climate change, they said. Other Funerals for Nature were held simultaneously in Boston, in the US, Sydney, Australia, Gothenburg in Sweden, and Lisbon in Portugal, they said.

Rob Delius, one of the organisers, said: “The intention is to send a powerful SOS message for nature by creating a visual spectacle, that will in equal measures shock and inspire onlookers. The UK has sleepwalked into this nature crisis and the fact that we are now one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world simply isn’t being talked about enough.

“We want the processions to create a talking point and for the public to be moved to demand that Government, local authorities, landowners and businesses urgently do more to restore biodiversity.”