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Wildlife Special

Ellie Harrison takes a look at the state of the country's wildlife - the pressures it is under, the challenges it faces and the prospects for vulnerable species.

Ellie Harrison takes an unflinching look at the state of the country's wildlife - the pressures it is under, the challenges it faces and the prospects for some of the most vulnerable species.

Ellie visits Devon to see the efforts being made to save one of the rarest insects, the narrow-headed ant. She also visits the Exmoor estate where water voles haven't been seen in 30 years.

Matt Baker is in Cornwall to see how a project to rear lobsters sustainably could have benefits for other threatened sea species.

Steve Brown visits a seabird sanctuary still dealing with the after-effects of the Torrey Canyon disaster 50 years ago.

Adam Henson is in Northern Ireland to see how farmers are working with the RSPB to bring back farmland birds.

55 minutes

Last on

Tue 16 Oct 2018 01:15

Narrow-headed Ants

Narrow-headed Ants

In the depths of the Devon heathland lies an isolated colony of rare little creatures that face an uncertain future. 

The narrow-headed ant is a vital yet underrated member of the ecosystem, responsible for pest control and aeration of the soil, as well as providing a source of food for animals further up the food chain. 

However, the ant is now restricted to a handful of sites nationwide due to the increasing fragmentation of open heathland habitat. 

Ellie Harrison is on site to assist in the latest research and discovers what plans are in place to secure the future of the narrow-headed ant.

Farmland Birds

Farmland Birds

Adam’s in Northern Ireland to see what’s been done to halt the decline in numbers of farmland birds.

Here the RSPB is recruiting local farmers to take part in the County Down Rescue Project.

The project encourages farming practices that help to support bird populations, from cutting hedges in different ways to changing the way crops are rotated.

It's hoped this is a scheme that can be replicated across the UK.


Agriculture Bill

Agriculture Bill
The Government has finally released its long-awaited Agriculture Bill - which outlines plans for how it will pay subsidies to farmers once we leave the EU.Key to its vision of future farming is paying public money to those who deliver so-called public goods, such as benefits to the environment and its wildlife.Tom meets Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove to find out whether he's gambling with the future of UK agriculture by putting green schemes ahead of food production.And he hears from those farmers who have concerns this new scheme may not pay off... 

Sand Lizards

Sand Lizards

One of the UK’s rarest reptiles, the sand lizard was once widespread across lowland heath habitats and sand dunes but changing land use has seen this creature pushed out. 

Much of the lowland heathland present in the early 20th century has been built on or planted on as part of development or commercial forestry practices. 

But an army of volunteers have been out in force across managed and protected heathland, building sandy patches to create a new home for these threatened creatures.



The UK’s rugged and dramatic coastline is home to huge numbers of seabirds - both resident and those that are passing through.  

With tricky weather conditions and with birds making both the sea and the cliffs their home, keeping track of their numbers is no mean feat. 

Since 2015, the “Breeding Seabird Census” has taken place to estimate the latest population figures and conservation status of our birds. 

Steve travels to the tip of Cornwall to meet some of the keen volunteers and ornithologists involved to find out about the current status of our seabirds.

And he finds out more about the 90-year history of the local seabird hospital.



The marine environment is home to a whole host of wildlife and is subject to a range of pressures. 

But ongoing conservation efforts are doing their part to protect that wildlife - and the lobster is one of the lucky recipients. 

Our appetite for this crustacean has, in part, led to the latest research aimed at bolstering lobster numbers in the sea. 

Matt visits the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow where a dedicated team of scientists are paving the way for improved lobster survival in the UK seas.

And Matt's drafted in to play his part in the latest release of juvenile lobsters.

Water Voles

Water Voles

In recent years, our native water voles have been one of the many casualties of our changing countryside management practices. 

The water vole has been so affected that it has earned the title of “Britain’s fastest declining mammal” - but efforts are underway to buck that trend. 

Teams of conservationists and ecologists are working together at sites across the country to rear and re-introduce water voles into better managed wetland systems. 

Ellie is in Somerset to meet some furry friends - before releasing them into their new home.


Role Contributor
Presenter Ellie Harrison
Presenter Matt Baker
Presenter Steve Brown
Presenter Adam Henson
Presenter Tom Heap
Executive Producer William Lyons
Series Producer Joanna Brame