We read about the state of our rivers and the UK being one of the most nature depleted countries in the world.

But how did it get to this and what should we do to turn the tide? 

June is a big month for UK wildlife. On Friday, June 22, the ‘Restore Nature Now’ demonstration takes place in London. Around 150 environmental and wildlife groups are coming together and it will be a spectacular event. 

At the same time a coalition of more than 80 nature conservation groups are launching a legal bid to force the next leading party to improve government targets on tackling wildlife decline. But will it make a difference and what should we do locally?

Policies, targets and laws themselves don’t make any difference. Laws like the Wildlife and Countryside Act have been in place for decades but they are rarely enforced. It is hard to prosecute wildlife crime. How do you prove something isn’t there anymore?

I have challenged Surrey Police and Waverley Borough Council to enforce wildlife protection for years. I am a tree warden for The Tree Council and have run many conservation projects. 

Surrey Police prosecuted me for anti-social behaviour because I pressed them to take action on local breaches of environmental protection.

The public rely on these organisations to take action on their behalf, not prosecute them and The United Nations is now looking at my case.

But given how hard it is to collect evidence of something like disturbing bat roosts, how realistic is it to expect our police and councils to divert limited public resources to wildlife crime?

Prosecution should be the last resort, it should primarily be about education and warning people about the harm their actions are causing.

A survey conducted during May found 90 per cent of dogs were not on a lead in the RSPB’s Frensham Heath reserve.

A further eighty per cent of people visiting Frensham Little Pond did not have their dogs on a lead or were allowing their dogs to swim in the pond, in contravention of the clear warning signs.

Frensham stag beetle
This glorious stag beetle was spotted at the Frensham site, yet the beauty spot is being occasionally despoiled by human activity. (Colin Shearn)

While some people are feeding birds in winter and not mowing their lawns in spring, it seems there is another group intent on damaging our wildlife. 

So what can be done? Landowners such as the National Trust and RSPB are responsible for the land they manage. More wardens are needed to enforce protection.

That will cost money but there is no point investing in conservation projects if existing work is undermined.

The answer also probably lies in social pressure - members of the public speaking to people harming the environment.

It also needs police and councils to put public space protection orders in place and prosecute people, like those now in force in The New Forest.

Our wildlife is a national asset and we all need to take responsibility to protect it.

* The author of this column is Tilford man and Farnborough Airport critic Colin Shearn.