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26 May 2007


Brian Payton was impressed by his sighting of bears in British Columbia when he visiting a sanctuary in search of grizzlies in the wild.  This experience sparked his interest and he set himself the task of trying to see all eight types of bear in their natural habitats, to find out what is happening to the populations of the world.  He has written up an account of his adventures in a book called In Bear Country: a global journey in vanishing wilderness.

Once upon a time the wilderness was everywhere but mankind brought about a distinction between hearth and home and the great outdoors.  Agriculture tamed and harnessed the wilderness of the natural world. In the twenty first century how much of it is left and should we even contemplate going to what remains?

John McCarthy asks what is wilderness and talks to Jo Roberts, Director of the Wilderness Foundation and to DrNick Middleton, Supernumerary Fellow in Physical Geography at St Anne's College, Oxford whose main research interest is in the nature and human use of deserts and their margins.

Presented by John McCarthy

Brown bear Brown bear

Photo: Brown bear

This week’s guests:

Brian Payton
lives in Vancouver and is a writer and the author of a new book In Bear Country which chronicles his search for the eight remaining bear species across continents.

In Bear Country: A Global Journey in Vanishing Wilderness
Publisher: Old Street Publishing
ISBN-10: 1905847149
ISBN-13: 978-1905847143

The International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA) 

Jo Roberts has been Director of the Wilderness Foundation since 2004, she has also been involved as Projects Director and Project Coordinator since 1998. Jo defines wilderness as a place where there is no infrastructure, no roads, a place “untrammelled by human interference“.

The Foundation is “dedicated to preserving and promoting the value of the world's last remaining wild areas, through lobbying, education and, wherever possible, by offering direct experience of wilderness itself. It supports projects that conserve wilderness and those seeking to re-establish it in Great Britain and overseas”.

Dr Nick Middleton is an academic in the field of Physical Geography. He is also an environmental consultant and freelance author having written more than 200 articles in journals, magazines and newspapers, and 16 books.

Nick’s main research interest is in the nature and human use of deserts and their margins but he also works and teaches on a wide variety of environmental issues. He has travelled to the world’s hottest, coldest, wettest and driest places, all documented in a series of books and television programmes such as Going to extremes, Surviving Extremes and Extremes Along the Silk Road.

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John McCarthy John McCarthy is a widely travelled journalist and presenter with a particular interest in the Middle East.
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