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Shift in climate change awareness thanks to 'Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion', says Norfolk wildlife expert

PUBLISHED: 17:38 10 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:38 10 September 2019

The rise of teenage activist Greta Thunberg and the Extinction Rebellion protestors has sparked a major shift in public awareness of climate change. Pictured, the 16-year-old Swedish activist. Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP

The rise of teenage activist Greta Thunberg and the Extinction Rebellion protestors has sparked a major shift in public awareness of climate change. Pictured, the 16-year-old Swedish activist. Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP

The rise of teenage activist Greta Thunberg and the Extinction Rebellion protestors has sparked a major shift in public awareness of climate change in the last year, a Norfolk wildlife expert has said.

Cockshoot Broad has become a model for how biomanipulation can improve water quality, says the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Picture: Richard OsbourneCockshoot Broad has become a model for how biomanipulation can improve water quality, says the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Picture: Richard Osbourne

David North, from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said the Swedish activist had made more difference to the public's perception of climate change in the last 12 months than he had seen at any other time in his career.

Mr North said Thunberg's efforts as a spearhead of the school strikes movement had raised the urgency of the climate change message.

"There has been a real change in public awareness of climate change over the past 12 months, more so than at any other time in my working career," he said.

"We're starting to talk about climate emergency - whether that's related to Greta Thunberg and school strikes and Extinction Rebellion.

David North, Head of People and Wildlife at Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Photo: ArchantDavid North, Head of People and Wildlife at Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Photo: Archant

"I'd also like to think it's due to environmental groups who have for decades been putting forward messages about life on this planet if we're going to save."

READ MORE: 'Pessimism gets you nowhere': Here is how Norfolk's wildlife can be saved

Mr North, speaking at the launch of the Life Map - an environmental mapping project aiming to empower communities - also discussed habitat conservation and biodiversity.

He said: "Norfolk is not just locally important for wildlife; it's globally important too. 50pc of grey seals on the planet are in Norfolk - which is a rare species."

Foxley Wood, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust's oldest ancient woodland. Picture: Richard OsbourneFoxley Wood, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust's oldest ancient woodland. Picture: Richard Osbourne

And Mr North added that 70pc of Norfolk's land area is for food production, with 65pc of that arable farming.

"The health of the planet and our wellbeing is completely enmeshed," he added.

READ MORE: Ambitious 'Life Map' project aims to help Norfolk communities tackle global issues

The Life Map, is the brainchild of programme director Edward Darling, also chief executive of the conservation charity Redlist Revival, and aims to create a Google Earth-like programme mapping global environmental data at a hyper-local level, and informing communities about sustainability patterns - broken down into 10k square areas.

Edward Darling, founder of The Life Map programme. Picture: Aileen MuirEdward Darling, founder of The Life Map programme. Picture: Aileen Muir

Mr Darling said: "My own community contains 4,500 people and we produce enough food for a quarter of a million people.

"You should be able to empower people with this information.

"It's how to make a difference, and about where you are in the world. We're also hoping to make people feel better."

- For more information, visit the organisation's website at The Life Map.

Aerial shot of North Walsham. Picture: Mike PageAerial shot of North Walsham. Picture: Mike Page

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