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Sunday 23 November 2008
11.00am - 12.00pm
The latest countryside and environmental stories.
This week John Craven visits Wytham Woods on the outskirts of Oxford, credited as the birth place of ecology. The woods and neighbouring farm which make up the Wytham Estate were bequeathed to the University of Oxford during the Second World War and have been used ever since as a giant outdoor laboratory.
Researchers study everything in the woods from trees to birds, insects and larger animals. Weather data, recorded in nearby Oxford, dates back to the eighteenth century and John finds out about Wytham Wood's role in a global research project looking at climate change.
The farm, based on the estate, carries out research into animal welfare, whilst still remaining a profitable enterprise. The farm is dedicated to researching ethical farming with an eye on commercial enterprise. The hope is that one day compassion can be found in profitable world farming, bringing big businesses and animal welfare experts together to work in harmony.
Hill farming is in crisis. Many farmers are getting out of the business as they no longer make enough money to survive. Changes to the Common Agricultural Policy mean that it will soon be more economical not to keep sheep at all. This is going to have an impact not just on upland communities, but on the landscape itself. So what are the options? Many believe the future for hill farmers lies in paying them for environmental services such as providing clean water or maintaining peat bogs to soak up atmospheric carbon dioxide. But how easy will it be for traditional farmers to adopt these new ideas?
Emus – video diary
Margaret Dover is an emu and rhea farmer with an artistic difference. She breeds emus for their eggs, and then carefully carves on the surface of them. The result is an array of fascinating patterns, animals and birds emerging from the different colours of the egg.
Michaela Strachan tries her hand at barn raising. Using traditional hand tools, volunteers and students construct a medieval-style oak barn deep within the Forestry Commission's ancient Silk Wood at Westonbirt in Gloucestershire. All of the oak has been harvested from the surrounding Westonbirt woodland as part of an on-going programme of woodland restoration. Three thousand shingles for the barn roof are individually made from sweet chestnut and oak, and are nailed on to larch batons. Silk Wood Barn will stand on Westonbirt's Native Tree Trail and become an important centre for greenwood skills and traditional crafts in the coming years.
The Royal Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire is a special place on the English and Welsh border, known for its vast woodlands. But venture a little further into the woods and you'll encounter much more than its flora and fauna. Hidden beneath the tree canopies is a four and half mile long sculpture trail featuring seventeen works of art including a huge stained-glass window, a children's swing and a giant's chair. Charlotte Smith ventured out on the sculpture trail and met up with artist Annie Cattrell who is working on a new commission for the trail.
Alfred Wainwright is famous for his pictorial guidebooks to walking the Lakeland Fells, but his 1938 work A Pennine Journey is less well known. Modern roads and the development of towns and cities over the last 70 years mean that following in his precise footsteps around the Pennines is impossible. But thanks to the work of David and Heather Pitt and members of the Wainwright Society, a safe version of the original walk is nearing completion. Adam Henson tries out a fifteen mile section of the walk, from Walwick across the top of the Pennines along Hadrian's Wall and finishing at Thirlwall Castle.
The mission at Wildwood is to replenish our woodlands by breeding endangered wildlife. Set in 16 hectares (40 acres), Wildwood is home to over 50 species of animals, some of which live in enclosures. Countryfile checks on McAvity the wildcat, finds out who killed Mr. Bunny and visits the konik horses – the closest match to the pre-historic tarpans that once roamed the UK and northern Europe.
Some of the other rather spiffing shows available now and always if you signup free @ www.TheBox.bz:
Comedy: The Office, Peep Show, Coupling, Chef, Fawlty Towers, Only Fools and Horses, The IT Crowd, Brass Eye, Nathan Barley, Young Ones, Monty Python, Blackadder, Alan Partridge, Father Ted, Coupling, Little Britain, Mr Bean, Extras, Green Wing, Mighty Boosh
Drama: Casualty, Holby City, The Bill, Hustle, Skins, Shameless, Ashes To Ashes
Game/Quiz Shows: Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Have I Got News For You, Deal Or No Deal (UK), Q.I.
Education/Documentary: Planet Earth, Horizon, Panorama, Mark Thomas (Comedy) Product
Food: Hell's Kitchen, Jamie Oliver, The F Word, Kitchen Nightmares, Masterchef, Great British Menu, Gordon Ramsay's Cookalong
Home/Property/Garden: Property Ladder, How Clean Is Your House?, Changing Rooms, Grand Designs, Homes Under The Hammer, To Buy Or Not To Buy
Motoring: Top Gear, Fifth Gear
Music: Top Of The Pops, Jools Holland, Glastonbury
Reality: Big Brother, Celebrity Big Brother, I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here!, Any Dream Will Do, Grease, Pop Idol, Wife Swap, X Factor, Badger Or Bust, Apprentice UK, Dragons' Den, Britain's Got Talent
Sci-Fi: Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, Torchwood, Primeval
Sport: Football (Soccer), Cricket, Rugby, Snooker, Darts, Formula One (F1GP)