By Imogen Watson, Senior reporter

March 28, 2019 | 3 min read

Sir David Attenborough, Stephen Fry, Catherine Tate, Alison Steadman and Asim Chaudhry star in The Wildlife Trusts' Wind in the Willows campaign that aims to stop the rapid depletion of the UK's natural landscape.

The UK's countryside told a far different tale when Kenneth Grahame wrote The Wind in the Willows over a100 years ago.

Since Grahame put pen to paper, a bewildering 97% of lowland meadows and the wildflowers, insects, mammals and birds they supported have completely disappeared, while 80% of purple heathlands have vanished - along with the blaeberries, sand lizards and nightjars that grew and frequented within them.

To raise awareness of the plight of the UK countryside, The Wildlife Trusts and Don't Panic have pulled together the star-studded cast for a Wind in the Willows trailer that calls for a wilder future.

The film opens within the world of Wind in the Willows. Thick with foliage and fresh with wildflowers; a snoozing Ratty gently floats along the steam in his little wooden boat.

Produced in the manner of a movie trailer, the opening reads: "This Spring, it's time to go back to the riverbank" and a montage of familiar earthly scenes unfold, featuring our favourite wildlife quartet: Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad.

The film trailer then proceeds to show how their lives get disrupted by human intervention.

Firstly roads dissect the landscape - much to the delight of our motoring fanatic toad until he crashes upon an industrial landfill site. In the present day, the riverbank is now dead and polluted, diggers are uprooting the last straggling trees, Mole in locked within the ground prevented by tarmac and Badger's home has been destroyed to make way for a bypass.

Toad hangs a picture of a puffin entangled in plastic on the wall in Toad Hall. “Farewell old friend” he says.

Stephanie Hilborne, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, says: "The Wildlife Trust's chief executive, Stephanie Hilborne said: “We are a nation of nature-lovers, yet we live in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. If we want to put nature into recovery we have to create a mass movement of people calling for change.

"Our film is a sad version of The Wind in the Willows – showing how Ratty and Toad have hit the buffers – but it ends with a message of real hope. It’s not too late to create strong laws which will help our wildlife make a comeback – and it’s not too late to establish a Nature Recovery Network which will enable us to plan a wilder future.”

President Emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts and narrator of the trailer, Sir David Attenborough commented: “It is desperately sad that so much of our country’s wildlife has been lost since Kenneth Grahame wrote his wonderful book The Wind in the Willows. Of all the characters in the book it is hard to know whose descendants have suffered the most. Water Voles, Toads and Badger’s friends in the book, Hedgehogs, have all seen catastrophic declines.

“I am backing The Wildlife Trusts’ campaign to rally people to secure a ‘wilder future’ by restoring large areas of wildlife habitat, in city and country. What we create may not look exactly like the countryside that Kenneth Grahame drew such inspiration from, but our wildlife won’t mind just so long as it has the places it needs to live and thrive."

The Wildlife Trusts: The Wind In The Willows Wilder Future by Don't Panic

By The Wildlife Trusts

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