A Funeral for Nature

A visual spectacle sends a powerful SOS message for nature, to coincide with Earth Day

I travelled to Bath this weekend to take part in a mock funeral for nature. Organised by a number of environmental activist groups including Extinction Rebellion, the funeral was a very different kind of protest. No placards or protest banners, the sombre occasion saw a funeral bier bearing Mother Nature escorted through the streets of Bath accompanied by swathes of Red Rebels, as well as drummers and mourners all dressed in back. 

Funeral for Nature, image by Gareth Morris

It was a powerful and ambitious piece of street theatre that succeeded in turning heads along its route. Locals and tourists alike stopped to observe the procession winding slowly through the streets towards Bath Abbey. Stewards handed out Orders of Service to onlookers, raising awareness of the plight of nature, and the threats to our biodiversity. The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries on earth.

Funeral for Nature, image by Mark Richards and Aurora Findhorn

The mourners were led by Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin. When the cortège reached the Abbey, the drums fell silent and the two nature presenters gave the eulogy. Chris Packham was clear that, “If the political will existed we could restore nature at landscape scale. We must restore nature now.” He encouraged onlookers to call for action from our government, to support local wildlife trusts, and to create spaces for nature wherever possible.

For me, it was a moving experience, and I was glad I made the journey. I wasn’t alone in travelling to the event, with participants of all ages arriving from all parts of the UK, as well as France, Denmark, Belgium, Germany and Holland. Talking to members of the public later, as they came to look at the funeral bier, it was clear that this visual spectacle had captured people’s imaginations. Hopefully it will have inspired many to act.

Featured image of Red Rebels taken by Jamie Bellinger

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