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James and the Giant Atlas Cedars

Nature, Series 8 Episode 5 of 7

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 04 March 2014

In August 2013, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reclassified the Atlas Cedar from 'least concern' to 'endangered species' . Drought as well as local pressures from grazing, logging and pests are threatening the survival of Morocco's endemic forests of Atlas Cedars. Professional tree climber James Aldred who grew up surrounded by trees in the New Forest is passionate about trees and tree climbing. It's not so much the technical challenges of climbing that James enjoys but the opportunity to explore the character, structure and ecology of the tree as he gains a unique perspective by climbing up high into the tree's canopy. So, James travels to Morocco to explore these ancient forests and reflect on the challenges facing them. He also finds a suitable tree to climb and sleep in overnight. From his tree top hammock, he watches a spider abseiling on its silken thread and hears owls calling through the darkness. He wakes before sunrise and climbs to the top of the tree to look out across this vast ancient forest in the early morning light. Its an unforgettable experience. Back on the ground, James discovers a fenced-off area in the forest containing tiny cedar seedlings and some young saplings - a sign of hope that these threatened Atlas Cedar forests may yet have a future.


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