The Spirit of John Muir 2015
On the 9 September 2015, television presenter, photographer and naturalist Chris Packham spoke at the inaugural Spirit of John Muir event at the Royal Geographical Society in London.
More than 400 people were informed, entertained and inspired, as he transported the audience to an imaginary dinner party with illustrious guests including John Muir. Hear his talk below...
Chris told the audience John Muir would be shocked today at the loss and fragmentation of wilderness, and that it was the hand of man that was responsible for that habitat and species loss.
He used the examples of otters, regarded as vermin in John Muir's day, to highlight that attititudes can change. He spoke about how we are losing battles, such as the impact of non native grey squirrels on native red squirrels, and the genetic extinction of the UK's wildcats. He stated that if we were less risk averse as conservationists we'd be working far more closely with scientists and technologists to tackle such problems.
He highlighted that huge deer populations across the UK were the result of no natural predators. As a result deer are damaging habitats for other species. He felt that wolf reintroduction was probably a long way off, but that lynx reintroductions were more likely. He discussed the potential for eco-tourism in communities near rewilding projects, and how new approaches to land use would encourage wild life. However, he noted, we need to capture people's hearts and minds and help local communities to make such changes.
He went on to speak candidly about why golden eagles are restricted to such a tiny area, due to habitat management and persecution. He called for law to be implemented on the illegal persecution of Hen Harriers and went on to say there is a risk that some land management decisions are being made without people fully understanding the effects of chemicals.
He moved towards his conclusion highlighting work he has done in Malta, and asked 'how incomprehensible would it be to John Muir that people today shoot migrating birds?'
He called on the audience to get active and involved saying, 'We have no wilderness but we can rewild - we have the technology'.
He concluded saying, 'John Muir, what a bloke!', and said how honoured he was to have been asked to make this maiden Spirit of John Muir speech.
Chris gave an excellent entertaining speech setting a clear train of thought towards a combination of protecting wilderness, biodiversity and rewilding. Thank you.Charles Rowley via Facebook
Thank you to Mountain Equipment for its support
Callum Taylor (pictured left) was the winner of our pre event joint competition to win a pair of tickets, a Mountain Equipment jacket and the chance to meet Chris.
@JohnMuirTrust @ChrisGPackham #SpiritofJohnMuir - Brilliant, inspirational talk. Thanks all.Andrew Whitfield via Twitter