The Duke of Sussex has said conservation is “fundamental to our survival” and should not be dismissed as “hippy”.

Harry said that to make progress humans needed to overcome “greed, apathy and selfishness” and that it was essential to learn from past mistakes to protect the world’s most valuable assets.

The Duke also warned of “vast ecosystems” set ablaze in Africa, communities destroyed for short-term gain, and said that a “natural order” between humans and wildlife must be restored.

He added: “This may well sound hippy to some. But we cannot afford to have a ‘them or us’ mentality. Humans and animals and their habitats fundamentally need to co-exist or within the next 10 years our problems across the globe will become even more unmanageable.

“Nature teaches us the importance of a circular system, one where nothing goes to waste and everything has a role to play. If we interfere with it, rather than work with it, the system will break down.

“Conservation used to be a specialist area, driven by science.

“But now it is fundamental to our survival and we must overcome greed, apathy and selfishness if we are to make real progress.”

Writing in the Daily Telegraph yesterday, his comments came ahead of his visit to Malawi’s Liwonde National Park on the eighth day of a tour of southern Africa to highlight conservation and anti-poaching work.

Harry said his role had given him an opportunity to “meet, listen and learn from those who live in some of the world’s harshest conditions and understand what it is they so desperately need to thrive”.

He also highlighted environmental catastrophes including overfishing, and elephant and rhino poaching.

The Duke of Sussex was yesterday also guest-editing the Instagram account of National Geographic to encourage people to “look up and share the beauty of trees”.

He shared an image he took of Baobab trees, including a photo of himself lying on the ground beneath the vast trees to capture the shot.

The duke, who is on an official tour of Malawi, is promoting the Looking Up campaign to raise awareness of the vital role trees play in the earth’s eco-system.

Harry wrote on the post that the National Geographic’s social media account, which has 123 million followers, is one of his personal favourites.

“Hi everyone! I’m so happy to have the opportunity to continue working with @NatGeo and to guest-edit this Instagram account; it’s one of my personal favourites,” he wrote.

“Today I’m in Liwonde National Park, Malawi an important stop on our official tour of Southern Africa, planting trees for The Queens Commonwealth Canopy.

“As part of this takeover, I am inviting you to be a part of our ‘Looking Up’ social campaign. To help launch the campaign, here is a photograph I took today here in Liwonde of Baobab trees.”

Calling on people to share images of trees in their local community with the hashtag #LookingUp, Harry described it as “an opportunity for all of us to take a moment, to appreciate the beauty of our surroundings”.

Earlier the Duke of Sussex honoured the sacrifice of a British soldier who died
helping to safeguard endangered wildlife in Malawi. Harry laid a wreath at a simple memorial to Guardsman Mathew Talbot, 22,  in Liwonde, where the serviceman was killed after being charged by an elephant while on an anti-poaching patrol with local rangers in May.

Guardsman Talbot, 22, of the Coldstream Guards, was on his first deployment and was passionate about his work training Malawians to protect animals like elephants and rhinos.

Harry has written to his family on two occasions and took a plaque they commissioned for the memorial with him when he travelled to Africa.

The duke’s handwritten message attached to the wreath read: “In grateful memory of Guardsman Talbot who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of his country and conservation. Rest in Peace.”

Troops from the 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles, the latest contingent of British troops to take part in anti-poaching operations in Malawi, were formed up near the memorial as a mark of respect.

Brigadier Tom Bateman, in charge of all counter-poaching deployment, gave a brief eulogy to the guardsman he knew, and before laying a wreath said: “Mathew Talbot was a young soldier in the early stages of his career as a Coldstream guardsman.

“Fired with enthusiasm for conservation and specifically counter-poaching, his professionalism, personal courage, was a hallmark of who he was.

“He wanted nothing more than to deploy with his battalion, who are scheduled to go on operations in Iraq next year.

“His selflessness in the face of adversity and his unique humour are typical of the characteristics of a British Army soldier - and we’re all immensely proud of him.

“It’s a sad day when we must gather to commemorate such a young brave life.”