NEXT Saturday, September 22, people are travelling from all around the country to the heart of London to speak up on behalf of the truly voiceless.

The first ever People’s Walk for Wildlife, in Hyde Park, has been organized by the naturalist and BBC Springwatch presenter Chris Packham.

In a video announcing the walk, Packham stands in a patch of woodland which looks verdant, but is silent except for the far-off burr of an aeroplane engine and a lone robin.

"I used to walk in these woods and they were alive with butterflies and absolutely full of birdsong," he says. "But just like every other corner of the UK, it's been in critical decline in terms of its species richness."

The figures are stark - the walk comes at a crucial time. Wildlife abundance is in freefall across the country.

Farmland bird numbers, for example, declined by 56 per cent between 1970 and 2015; a loss of tens of millions of individuals.

"Since the Beatles broke up, we have wiped out half our wildlife," wrote the naturalist Michael McCarthy earlier this year. I would make a bad joke about that being a huge overreaction, but the truth of the annihilation is too grim.

If we care about the survival of non-human life in our nation and on our planet, it is important not only to communicate this fact with politicians – who generally tend towards the ecologically illiterate end of the spectrum – but also to create positive visions of what a biodiverse and ecologically healthy country might look like.

Even in the midst of the sterile desert we have created, there are some green shoots of positivity. The Government’s new agriculture bill is looking like it may reform agricultural subsidies for the better, rewarding land managers and farmers for the environmental good they do, not merely for the acreage they own.

Or take beavers. After being wiped out by humans in Britain 400 years ago, they have a couple of strongholds in Scotland now and this week it was announced that the pair that were released in the Forest of Dean in the summer have already completed their very first dams. They grow up so fast, don’t they?

They are currently living in fenced enclosures in controlled conditions, but if the trial is successful they could spread. If we can have beavers on the River Tay in Perthshire or the River Otter in Devon, why not on the Foss?

For me, habitat is key. Conservation conversations so often tend to focus on charismatic individual species – as I have just done. Beavers. Hedgehogs. Curlews.

Often these are small species that can exist in the margins of human habitation – in gardens, parks, steams and fields – and of course we should make these margins as hospitable as possible.

But to me the restoration of our much-diminished wildlife would be incomplete if we don’t make more space suitable for fully functioning ecosystems, including larger animals.

Nature is pretty good at sorting itself out if we can just give it sufficient space. At sea, there is the concept of ‘No Take Zones’ – areas which cannot be fished or dredged. Why not create a sort of terrestrial version? Areas of land where human industry – the exploiters and the extractors, the loggers and the road-builders, the hunters and the foresters – are excluded?

But that’s just me. Packham says the People’s Walk for Wildlife is for anyone and everyone of all ages. For people with a passing interest in wildflowers to those feeling hopeless about the way we treat other species – and the way we tolerate their suffering and sometimes death as a banal side-effect of our modern lives.

“You’re invited if you’re interested in wildlife – and that’s everyone,” Packham says. “Your wildlife needs you more than ever. It’s time for us to act.”

For more information on the walk, go to