HUMAN beings need to stop prioritising themselves over the environment and help wildlife instead of "chasing cures for cancer", Springwatch presenter Chris Packham has said.

The outspoken naturalist, 53, also criticised Sir Richard Branson's "grotesquely misinformed" project to put lemurs on a Caribbean island, and said that Christianity "doesn't help" when it comes to getting people to change their attitude and think about the planet.

He told Radio Times magazine that risk aversion was "killing childhood", meaning that children who were free to explore nature on their own were now an "extinct" species.

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The wildlife expert called on wealthy philanthropists to stop prioritising human health and to fund environmental causes instead.

He told the magazine that economic growth was "a recipe for disaster" and blasted "ill-informed" politicians.

"Because we're humans, we make the decisions. We've got to get to a state where we think about all life and not just human life," he said.

"Christianity doesn't help: we're made in God's image so everything is there to be exploited by us. It doesn't help people's attitudes."

But he said that he was "optimistic" about the future, adding: "Our understanding of what we need to do to preserve species is increasing.

"The reason why it's failing at the moment is that politicians - local, national, global - don't understand the need to look after our planet.

"Biological resources are worth trillions of dollars a year, when you think about the fish taken out of the sea, the forests cut down for wood, the oil pumped out of the ground. So, at a certain point the ecologists will have an equal say to the economists.

"If there's one mantra that we need to break in the next 10 years it's that economic growth is a good thing. It isn't. It's a recipe for global disaster."

He added: "What we need in the next 10 years - as a stop-gap - is corporate funding and the benevolence of philanthropists.