Trees A Crowd


Dr Richard Benwell: Carbon footprints and coots’ feet; the Greenman running in Wantage

Season 1, Ep. 22

Dr Richard Benwell is the chief executive of England's largest environmental coalition. He has worked at the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and, most recently, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In a passionate and expressive interview, Richard explains how he once tried to engage with an MP by emulating the sound of screeching swifts – not the only time he’s been caught doing bird impressions! Exploring why he became involved in campaigning for the environment, Richard points out that the early adoption of climate legislation overshadowed the urgent need for action on the natural environment. But his work introducing a Nature and Wellbeing Act, agricultural reform and the Environment Bill has been instrumental in bringing the issue to the fore. In a Trees A Crowd first, politics is discussed; specifically how Richard managed to turn the risks of leaving the EU into a success for the natural world, before the discussion floats back towards the “alien, flip-flappy feet” of his favourite bird – the coot.

More Episodes


Lost on Lundy: The hidden treasures of a wildlife landmark; aka, “David adventures to Puffin Island!”

Season 4, Ep. 3
Since the late 1960s, Lundy Island - just off the north coast of Devon and measuring only half a mile wide at its widest point - has been owned and operated by two British charities; the National Trust and the Landmark Trust. Prior to this, Lundy was owned by wealthy megalomaniacs, pirates, gamblers, revolutionaries, neolithic fisher-people, and a whole array of wildlife. In this week's episode, David Oakes visits Lundy to speak with the island's current wildlife wardens, Rosie Ellis and Stuart Cossey. Rosie, a marine specialist, enthuses about the marine protected areas and no take zone that surround much of the island. These are waters that harbour grey seals, minke whales and basking sharks, as well as spiny lobsters, sea slugs, and a stunning array of rare corals. Stuart - the island's resident "bird guy" - explains that despite being named for one of the island's most colourful avian inhabitants ('lund' is the Old Norse word for 'Puffin'), Lundy is actually far more exciting due to its Manx Shearwater population. The majority of the UK's Manx Shearwaters breed on Lundy, and as such Stuart takes David out at sunset to ring a few of these amazing creatures. All of that, as well as pygmy shrews, the world's rarest cabbage, and a tale of why Rosie spent much of the Covid-19 lockdown on Lundy walking around collecting animal droppings, and you've got a tiny island (and brimming podcast) that punches far above its weight. For further information on this and other episodes, visit: