‘Join me to march for nature,’ Dame Judi urges the public

Dame Judi Dench, who has spoken about her love of trees, said: 'We need our politicians to deliver a cure for nature's decline'
Dame Judi Dench, who has spoken about her love of trees, said: 'We need our politicians to deliver a cure for nature's decline' - Paul Grover/for The Telegraph

Dame Judi Dench has joined ranks with Extinction Rebellion (XR) to call for better protections for nature ahead of the general election.

The actress is calling on the public to join a protest on Saturday (June 22) in London alongside XR, the National Trust and other environment groups to demand a greater focus on climate and nature in the election.

Organisers say the Restore Nature Now march will be the biggest in the run up to the election, with more than 50,000 people expected to attend.

Dame Judi has spoken widely about her love of trees, and has previously backed a petition to stop the felling of a poplar in south London which was being occupied by XR activists.

“Despite being a nation of nature-lovers, the UK’s politicians are failing to protect the wildlife that we love,” she said ahead of the march. “Nature needs more than sticking plaster solutions, we need our politicians to deliver a cure for nature’s decline.

“That’s why we should all join together to demand that all political parties Restore Nature Now.”

Chris Packham, the TV naturalist, is expected to join the march
Chris Packham, the TV naturalist, is expected to join the march - Geoff Pugh/for The Telegraph

Emma Thompson, the actress, Chris Packham, the TV naturalist, and Feargal Sharkey, the musician and campaigner, are all expected to attend the protest, which organisers have said will be “family-friendly, peaceful and legal”.

In 2023, the group said it would back away from actions that disrupt the public such as roadblocks and focus on “attendance over arrest”.

In recent months they have interrupted a Science Museum event alongside Greta Thunberg, and formed blockades and protests outside insurance companies across the country, leading to several arrests.

Last year the National Trust was accused by Lee Anderson, then a deputy chair of the Conservative party of “lecturing” the public after it called for more action from the Government on net zero. Mr Anderson has since defected to Reform UK.

Other charities working alongside XR to organise the event include the RSPB, whose head apologised last year after the charity accused the Government of lying in a social media post.

Healthy environment

Supporters are calling for five main policies to be adopted by the next Government, including doubling the budget for nature-friendly farming.

They also want a right to a healthy environment to be enshrined in a new Act of Parliament along with commitments to insulate homes and support active travel and public transport.

Campaigners point to new polling for Rewilding Britain which shows that 77 per cent of all voters say that politicians should be doing more to reduce the decline of nature in Britain, including 68 per cent of those who voted Conservative in 2019.

Tanya Steele, chief executive at the World Wide Fund for Nature, which is among the charities organising the protest, said: “The next UK government will determine whether we achieve vital climate and nature targets by 2030.

“Failure is not an option, yet time and again these targets – to slash emissions and to restore the wildlife and wild places we hold dear – have been disregarded, delayed or diluted.

“This joining together of voices will be a powerful reminder that the UK public cares passionately about nature and climate change, and that when we restore nature, nature restores us.”