When Sir David Attenborough describes Slimbridge as the ‘birthplace of modern conservation’ you know it is a special place. Sir Peter Scott who founded WWT Slimbridge more than 70 years ago believed that if we were to save the natural world, people needed to experience it. He developed a unique network of wetland centres that have connected millions of people of all ages to wildlife. He was a key founding father of a whole conservation movement.
Today that has never been more important. The 2016 Living Planet Report highlights that global freshwater wildlife populations have fallen by 81% since 1970 as a result of humans. However, people need a connection to wild places if they’re going to want to do what it takes to save them. At WWT, that begins in a safe accessible environment that everyone can enjoy.
Together we can make a difference. Whether it’s a child from a school in a disadvantaged area or an older person still looking in awe at the natural world, we need to find ways of inspiring people to tackle the conservation challenges faced by generations to come.
At the heart of our new plans for Slimbridge is our mission to offer people more space to experience wildlife and the techniques used in conservation, more space to explore our reserve and the wild places of international importance and more space to imagine how they can be part of a journey to improve our planet for all life, just as Peter Scott and many others before.
Our Inspiring Generations schools programme shows the long term impact a visit to a wetland centre can have. Two-thirds of children say their visit has made them more interested in nature. We hope this project will deliver at least a 20% increase in visitors to Slimbridge – that’s an extra 50,000 people a year getting a closer connection to wetlands and their wildlife.
We’ll take people on a journey to wild nature, bring in new visitors for whom heritage is an interest, use art as well as natural beauty to inspire them and make sure that everything we do links the challenges we face in the twenty first century.
Our heritage has given us a unique platform, the experiences we offer provide a depth of engagement with wildlife that just isn’t found elsewhere and through this project we’ll make an impact that is felt for generations to come.
But… we can only do this with your support to make it all possible.