Wild Card staged a protest at Kensington Palace this morning in response to the Duchy of Cornwall’s announcement earlier this month regarding the expansion of Wistman’s Wood on Dartmoor.
The announcement from the Duchy to double the 3 hectares Wistman’s Wood by 2040 came after a petition launched by Wild Card and hosted by 38 Degrees reached over 70,000 signatures. The petition called on Prince William to ‘bring back Britain’s rainforests’ in His Royal Highness’s newly inherited estate, but the campaigners argue the recent announcement was underwhelming in the context of the climate and nature crisis.
According to our calculations, the 3 expanded hectares of Wistman’s Wood would therefore account for just 0.01% of this land - an area equivalent to less than 5 football pitches. Duchy of Cornwall land has some of the lowest tree coverage of any major UK landowner, with just 6% tree coverage compared to the national figure of 13%.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, one of the celebrity backers of the Wild Card campaign, said: “In inheriting the Duchy of Cornwall, Prince William has an enormous opportunity to resurrect one of the world’s rarest habitats and to walk the walk on his long standing environmental advocacy. Decisive action by the Prince to expand the rainforest fragments still remaining on Dartmoor would be an act of boldest optimism in the face of the ever worsening nature crisis.
I really think he could inspire a wave of rainforest restoration in Britain and beyond. By protecting and expanding these areas, the Prince could become a world-leading example of rainforest restoration.”
Megan Bentall, Head of Campaigns at 38 Degrees, said: “Prince William has the opportunity to do something incredible with the land that has been left to him. But taking seven years to restore just three of his 27,300 hectares is hardly the urgent action our environment needs.
At 38 Degrees, we campaign for a country that is more sustainable for everyone, for people and wildlife. Unlike Prince William, most of us don’t have the opportunity to rewild thousands of acres of land, but the 71,566 people who signed this petition are doing what they can to fight for a Britain where nature can thrive - and they won’t be fobbed off with a token gesture. It’s time for Prince William and the Royal family to do their part too.”
Ecologist and spokesperson for Wild Card, Emma Smart, said: “We’ve taken action today to highlight the disconnection between Prince William’s words and his cowardly actions. As the founder of the Earthshot prize he has shown he understands the urgent need to act on the nature and climate emergencies.
Prince William has said that ‘now is the time for each of us to show leadership’ and he was right. But addressing just 0.01% of his vast estate on Dartmoor, with a timeline of 2040, is not leadership, it’s just small potatoes. The British people deserve better from the royal family, who earn a substantial private income from their land every year, farmers deserve real consultation and future-proof planning, and local communities - thousands of whom signed our petition - deserve to be taken seriously.”
This Autumn hundreds of local people will march on the Duchy of Cornwall offices with Wild Card, to demand urgent action to rewild Dartmoor. This comes after Chris Packham and hundreds of school children marched on Buckingham Palace in 2021 delivering a 100,000 petition calling on the Royal Family to rewild their estates.