‘If we want to save ourselves we have to save the environment’ - BBC evolutionary biologist speaks out about coastal erosion

PUBLISHED: 16:07 30 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:07 30 November 2018

Ben Garrod at MCS Great Yarmouth beach clean. Picture: David Hannant

Ben Garrod at MCS Great Yarmouth beach clean. Picture: David Hannant


Evolutionary biologist and award winning BBC broadcaster, Dr Ben Garrod has issued a stark warning about the impact coastal erosion will have on Norfolk’s unique wildlife unless action is taken.

Dr Garrod grew up in Great Yarmouth and is an active advocate for wildlife conservation across the county.

Next month the biologist will host the Norwich and Norfolk Eco awards and said he was excited to celebrate the achievements of those working to protect the region’s fragile eco-system.

However, he also warned issues such as coastal erosion and plastic pollution needed to be taken on by everyone and not left to scientists and MPs.

The scientist said although some coastal erosion was natural, our actions were making the situation worse.

Growing up in Great Yarmouth, Dr Garrod witnessed huge ships dredging gravel off the shore between his home town and Caister.

He said: “Sea defences are very important but they’re not the answer to everything.

We also need to help more by not degrading seabed through taking tonnes of shingle.

“Even though it is a natural occurrence we have to do as much as we can to protect our coast.”

He added it was important to remember that as well as affecting humans, coastal erosion was having a detrimental affect on animal species.

He said: “We have a huge amount of SSSI’s (sites of special scientific interest) and our dune systems are incredibly fragile.

“There are natter-jack toads and lots of different birds and insects living on a knife edge.

“If we want to save ourselves we have to save the environment.”

Despite the current challenges, the broadcaster said Norfolk had a lot to be proud of and was looking forward to celebrating at the Norwich and Norfolk Eco Awards next month.

He said while there had been a national surge of interest in environmental issues, Norfolk had always been a hotspot for nurturing the natural world.

He added: “We’re all inspired by people like David Attenborough and Chris Packham but if your neighbours or groups of local school kids are doing it you can relate much more easily and that has a knock-on effect.

“It’s not just up to scientists and MPs to make a difference. You don’t need any experience to get involved, you juts need the motivation and to have fun.”

Entries for the Norwich and Norfolk Eco Awards close on Tuesday, December 4 and can be made here.

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