Yes, it rained.Yes, there were a lot of brollies. But, on Saturday, 10,000 people kept smiling and cheering as they walked through London listening to bird song playing from their mobile phones.
We'd started the day in Hyde Park making banners, having faces painted and catching up with friends before listening to some rousing speeches from those that contributed to the wonderfully provocative manifesto of ideas to protect and restore nature. Once the talking (and singing along with Billy Bragg) was done, we snaked our way along three miles of London streets to Downing Street where Chris Packham and six young people handed over his manifesto for the UK Government to ponder.
As well as seeing people that I work alongside today (from loads of different organisations), I bumped into friends and former colleagues that I hadn't seen for years. Inevitably, all conversations ended up discussing whether this walk, this crowd would make a difference.
The short answer is that it could.
I think the climate rallies and marches of the 2000s provided political impetus to the campaigns that ultimately ended in the end to dirty coal and a world-leading Climate Change Act. The 400 people that were on board the barge on the Thames helped make the case for the Marine and Coastal Access Act and I think those that rallied for nature in 2014 gave a boost to the campaign to the ultimately successful defence of the EU Nature Directives.
By my calculation, Saturday's event was the largest ever walk/rally/march for wildlife that this country has ever seen. The inspirational Chris Packham deserves enormous credit and thanks for conceiving and then leading this brilliant walk for wildlife.
The walk comes at a time when our environmental laws, funding and governance remain uncertain as a result of the UK vote to leave the European Union. The walk serves as a timely reminder to all politicians to take the impact of wildlife into account in all decisions - especially one as significant Brexit.
I will inevitably return to this subject in the weeks ahead. But I do so knowing that there is a real determination from the nature conservation community to continue to dress up, sing, cheer, walk and make their voices heard for wildlife.
I was there and I loved it!
I understood you meant the naughties, Martin. Probably right about 60k, I just checked back on a press report that the Police acknowledged 40k.
I actually think the Wave was 60,000 - I chaired the group that organised it! When I said 2000s I meant the decade ie the Naughties not the number of people!
I think the Blue Wave Climate Rally in Dec. 2009 attracted about 40,000 marchers (the police didn't dispute the number). The RSPB were very involved at that March and we were both there Martin.
Yesterday was a great event and Chris Packham and his team need a huge thank you for the fantastic organisation. Advertising the event on the RSPB's front page probably attracted a few extra participants! So many different organisations coming together with a single objective was inspiring.
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