Steve Backshall is joining other environmentalists taking the streets of London to protest ‘the dire state’ of local and international wildlife – after finding ‘horrifying’ levels of sewage bacteria in the Thames near Marlow.

The TV presenter and naturalist, who lives just downstream from Marlow in Maidenhead, has called for residents in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire to support a protest march in London this Saturday (June 22) calling for urgent action to protect the natural world and climate.

Mr Backshall is the president of the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), an organisation that has joined high-profile campaigners including Chris Packham and Amir Khan in backing this weekend’s ‘Restore Nature Now’ event.

He said: “With many UK species on the path to extinction, our rivers becoming a pollution highway and the future of our climate at a crucial crossroads, the next government needs to put the UK on the right track for the natural world.

“The Restore Nature Now march and its thousands of supporters send a clear signal to all politicians that this general election must be a nature and climate election. The public wants it, UK wildlife needs it, and the next generation deserves it.”

Mr Backshall found “horrifying” levels of bacteria including E.coli, norovirus and enterovirus in water samples taken from downstream of the Little Marlow Sewage Treatment Works in April.

He told the Free Press he had used the stretch of river in Little Marlow for over 20 years and had only begun to see “massive sewage discharges” in the last four years, describing them as “a death potion” for the Thames.

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Matthew Stanton, Conservation Strategy Director at the BBOWT, said that while communities across the charity’s three counties were “deeply invested in supporting nature”, “the figures around rising pollution, falling wildlife and the drastically changing climate are devastating”.

Adding: “We can still turn things around, but time is running out. We’re inviting everyone who cares about these issues to join us for the Restore Nature March and make it clear to the next UK government that protecting and restoring our natural world has never been more critical.”

The aggregated State of Nature report for 2023 showed that despite already being one of the world’s most nature-depleted countries, the UK continued to allow wildlife species to decline last year.

A poll commissioned by the Wildlife Trust earlier this year also indicated that 39 per cent of voters saw environmental issues as a key area of concern in the general election on July 4.

The Restore Nature March, billed as a “legal, peaceful and inclusive” campaign event, will meet at 12pm in Park Lane, London, before marching towards a rally in Parliament Square at 1pm, where Steve Backshall is expected to give an address.

For more information and to sign up for the march, visit