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.

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Dr William C. Tweed: The secret histories of John Muir’s Giant Redwoods

Season 2, Ep. 18
Dr William C. Tweed is a lover of Big Trees - the Giant Redwoods of California to be precise. An historian and naturalist, he has a career spanning over 30 years working for the US national park service, and after holding several roles at the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, spent a decade as its Chief Naturalist. Whether it’s describing what a Giant Redwood is through a comparison to the miniscule mosquito, or a deep dive into numerous secret histories of mankind's fascinations with these trees, William will have you captivated, falling in love with, and longing to hug, the giant sequoia. In exploring the tree’s many wonderful evolutionary features, and the serene images he paints of the Sierra Nevada, William explains that our passion for sequoias starts with our love of that which is “big, and old, and rare”, and then continues to grow tall. William explores the history of the “Father of the National Parks” himself, John Muir - how his religious upbringing inspired his writing (his works serving as a “secular Bible” for those devoted to nature) - and how the Sierra Club is still following firmly in Muir’s footsteps today. Among William’s teachings are plenty of digressions and distractions - charming moments of a mind as fascinated by nature today as he has ever been.For further information on this and other episodes, visit: