Sir David Attenborough has warned that humanity "must create a new relationship with nature", and the ongoing destruction of the natural world makes dangerous viruses such as Covid-19 ever more likely.
The broadcaster and natural historian was speaking after it was announced he was the recipient of People’s Postcode Lottery's annual Postcode Hero award in recognition of his environmental work.
In a presentation before social distancing measures, Sir David received a cheque totalling £500,000 for Fauna & Flora International - the charity of which he is vice-president.
Fauna & Flora International is world-renowned for its innovative programmes, many of which have come to be regarded as classic examples of conservation practice. It has now received £1.25 million in total, thanks to players of the lottery.
The charity is using the funding boost for its new crisis fund in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, to protect global conservation efforts.
Sir David said: "As the world responds to this pandemic, we must be led by the science, and the science is telling us that the destruction of nature is making the emergence of new and dangerous viruses ever-more likely.
"The finger of blame cannot be pointed at the natural world for this crisis, but in our relationship with it, and we must urgently act to create a new relationship that respects rather than exploits the wonders of nature.
"I joined Fauna & Flora International just after leaving university. It’s the great body of conservation and it’s active in every part of the world. The money raised by those who play this remarkable lottery will go to a very, very worthwhile cause."
The FFI Partner Crisis Support Fund has already supported groups in Kenya, Mozambique, Vietnam, and Romania, to protect species such as rhinos, wild dogs, wolves, and pangolins, and assist communities who are central to conservation.
Clara Govier, managing director at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: "It’s an honour to present Sir David with this award on behalf of all of our players. Millions of TV viewers have been transported to landscapes around that world by Sir David’s voice and he continues to educate and inspire generations to care for the planet."
More than £500 million has been raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, which has supported over 7,500 good causes in Britain and internationally.
Previous recipients of the Postcode Hero award include George and Amal Clooney for their human rights work with Clooney Foundation for Justice and Nice Nailantei Leng’ete, for her work campaigning against female genital mutilation with Amref Health Africa.