Springwatch gives succour to our souls, but should it do more? | Ros Coward


The BBC nature programme is good at engaging with the public but it fails to address the threat of human development

Springwatch is back, the BBC’s largest outside broadcasting event with regular audiences approaching 4 million. I’m among its greatest fans, having watched every series – and spin-offs, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch – since it began in 2005. But this year I’ve begun to worry about the gulf opening up between the wonderful richness on the screens and the urgent biodiversity crisis unfolding off camera.

Springwatch’s unique contribution to wildlife programming is its emphasis on citizen science. The audience is encouraged to observe and submit data about their gardens and local spaces, a model of environmental engagement. But deep down, Springwatch is rooted in the Attenborough tradition of nature programming: intimate stories of wildlife, focusing on nature’s eternal beauty and fascinating behaviours. What’s missing is coverage of the human pressures on their habitat. David Attenborough has only relatively recently addressed the massive threats to nature from human destruction, pollution and climate change.

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