Epic cycle expedition produces unique conservation collection.
Copyright Mike McFarlane
A unique panoramic record of landscapes in the UK has been produced by award-winning photographer Mike McFarlane, cycling 5,903 miles around four countries to promote nature conservation for an extraordinary commission by The Wildlife Trusts.
Living Landscapes across the UK are being enlivened by Wildlife Trusts and their partners. The Heritage Lottery Fund promotes landscape scale working and supporting imaginative programmes across the four nations. Here in my home county of Gloucestershire there are four programmes underway and including the successful Cotswold Rivers programme
Chris Packham, passionate conservationist, photographer and The Wildlife Trusts’ Vice President, said:
“Mike’s amazing spins allow you to imagine lying in the middle of a hay meadow or by the sea looking at the sky and views in every direction while listening to birds chirping or the swoosh of the waves – what a fabulous achievement!”
The collection of 92 panoramic 360° virtual tours of Living Landscape schemes established by The Wildlife Trusts all over the UK will help to raise awareness of their landscape-scale work, using interactive features to bring these places to life on screen.
The virtual tours can be experienced on The Wildlife Trusts’ website. They take in a wide range of landscapes from the rugged uplands of north-west Scotland to the floodplain meadows of the Home Counties and the rocky shorelines of the Isles of Scilly and Alderney.
Interactive features allow people to find out more about the work The Wildlife Trusts are doing in each location, with a particular focus on how they are working with partners to restore the natural environment.
The aim of Living Landscapes is to restore, recreate and reconnect areas of habitat by developing natural corridors. Larger areas for nature allow wildlife to spread to new places and not be left vulnerable in isolated locations. The Wildlife Trusts are working with farmers, businesses and local communities to implement conservation measures across larger areas of land.
Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape, said:
“We have been focusing our efforts on landscape-scale conservation schemes in partnership with others for several years. Mike’s panoramic views and virtual tours will help people to visualise the places where we are working and the scale and scope of Living Landscape schemes.”
The photographic project, funded by the Tubney Charitable Trust and Aggregate Industries, took a year to complete, with Mike travelling mainly on a folding bike and using public transport to minimise his carbon footprint. On most nights he ‘wild camped’, towing his own tent and supplies on a trailer weighing up to 40 kilos.
Copyright Mike McFarlane
“This was an amazing job and for such a great organisation, very much up my street in terms of what I want to put back into society,” said Mike, 39. “I like to do something that’s good for society, or good for the landscape, good for nature, so this project was really attractive.”
During his year-long series of tours Mike experienced heat exhaustion, dehydration, insect infestation, freezing conditions and loneliness – but he also took more than 12,000 photographs and refuses to dwell on the hardships when the results were so fulfilling and worthwhile:
“All I can say is that it was like a musician when they come to the end of a tour or finish producing an album. It’s a complete creative exhaustion because I did put everything into making these photographs of these amazing landscapes and these amazing conservation efforts.
“Everybody I met who was involved in Living Landscape schemes just had so much passion, so much commitment to conservation. If even a few more people feel inspired to start doing conservation work or if they show work like this in schools or in universities and young people get some hope or interest or encouragement out of it, that would be great.”