Trees A Crowd


Sir John Lawton: The wit, wisdom and winged omens of the man who would re-wild Chernobyl

Season 1, Ep. 20

Professor Sir John Lawton is a fellow of the Royal Society, president of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and chair of the Endangered Landscapes Programme. Previously a trustee of the WWF, head of the Natural Environment Research Council and the most recent chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, there are seemingly few environmental organisations that John hasn’t been involved with. That said, it is birds that have driven John’s lifelong obsession with the natural world. Sitting in John’s back garden amidst the sound of birdsong, this conversation flows from a childhood obsession of brilliant blue hedge sparrow eggs tucked away in his nan’s back garden to following in the shoes of Darwin with a (now frowned-upon) fascination for collecting specimens. John explains how he helped to set up nature protection areas across the world, how he visited Chernobyl in the hopes of persuading the Belarus government to turn the exclusion zone into a national park, and what he got up to with a dolphin in Durham with David Bellamy.

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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: