Cathedral bells toll for England’s lost species

The bells of Peterborough Cathedral will toll 492 times today, once for every species that has been lost in England in the last 200 years.

The bell tolling is taking place to highlight crucial UN talks on biodiversity in New York this week, the first time the UN General Assembly has ever discussed the crisis affecting the world’s biodiversity.

The UN has invited anyone with a bell to ring it in the name of biodiversity. Churches across England are planning to take up the invitation, as well as in New York and Nairobi.

The Dean of Peterborough, the Very Rev Charles Taylor, said the loss of each species mattered.

“They represent a flower or a butterfly that you and I will never see. They are symbolic of the damage that humans have caused to our world, to God’s world,” he said.

“We have a duty to look after this planet for future generations, and we are currently failing in this duty.

“We are pleased to join churches and others around the world, giving encouragement to world leaders to take strong action to reverse the current declines in nature.”

The Church of England is one of the official partners of the UN’s 2010 International Year of Biodiversity.

Its national environmental adviser, David Shreeve, said the bell ringing initiative showed “just how actively involved the Church is in environmental issues and concerns”.

Research by Natural England earlier this year found that 492 species had disappeared from England in the last two centuries.

Dr Pete Brotherton, head of biodiversity for Natural England, said everyone was affected by the loss of biodiversity across the globe.

“The church bells ringing out today are a timely reminder of what’s at stake and of the need to ensure we do all we can to avoid losses of this scale occurring in the future,” he said.

Dr Bob Bloomfield, UK co-ordinator for the International Year of Biodiversity, has recorded a podcast for the Church of England to mark the talks.

You can listen to it here at: