Anita Rani is in London at the remarkable Woodberry Wetlands, a haven for all sorts of wildlife just a stone's throw from the tower blocks of Stoke Newington.
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For the first time ever, there are more of us
living in cities than in the country.
But that doesn't mean our vistas are being concreted in -
there are vital spaces for nature to thrive in cities, like right here
in London, where I'll be getting up close to some rare wildlife.
This week, we're looking at cities.
Their green spaces,
and how we make room for both.
Sean is on a mission with the wildlife team at Manchester Airport.
Yeah, I'm finding that quite distressing.
I can't imagine what the rooks feel like. It's quite loud, isn't it?
James takes to Liverpool's rooftops in search of his five a day.
So we're planting a yellow chard today, straight into the water.
This is a little bit DI...
What's this? Polystyrene foam that's floating on top of the water?
These are actually insulation boards.
Tom's finding out that air pollution isn't just
a problem in the city.
If you can imagine having a bit of cellophane put over your mouth
with a few pinpricks, that's what it feels like trying to get air.
And away from the city, Adam's hearing how farming has
turned one former servicemen's life around.
Some of my sort of darkest periods, I've literally slept in the
cow shed along with the cow.
There is a cow out there that, you could probably say, saved my life.
From the New Forest to Snowdonia...
..to the South Downs,
our national parks encompass some beautiful landscapes.
But could that include our biggest city, London?
There's more green space here than you might expect.
It may not have the mountains of the Lake District or the wilderness
of Dartmoor, but I'm here to meet a man who firmly believes that our
capital could be, and should be, the world's first national park city.
One of its greenest spaces is the Parkland Walk,
an old railway line-turned-nature reserve in North London.
It's where I'm meeting explorer Daniel Raven-Ellison.
He's behind the push to get London declared a national park.
So, Daniel, how do you marry a national park with a city?
That doesn't make sense in my head.
So, fundamentally, this is about improving the health of all
Londoners, no matter how wild they are.
And it's about creating a giant movement that anyone can
join in with.
Surely national park is self-explanatory -
it's just beautiful, wild, expansive green space, and a city is a city.
Well, I see it slightly differently.
So I think that what's more important is what are
the purposes and aims of a national park, you know,
for better conservation, for better understanding and enjoyment.
And applying those to London,
which I don't just see London as a city, London is a landscape.
It's very different from desert or rainforest or coral reefs.
But it's no less valuable than those other kinds of landscape.
So as we have more people living in the city, it's absolutely vital that
we properly protect, properly fund and properly care for these places.
In order to achieve this, Daniel's come up with four main aims.
First one is to make the city far greener.
Second aim, to get far more of us active and outdoors.
A third aim, which is to create a new identity for London.
You know, London is world-famous as a cultural, a financial
and a political centre,
but actually, we have 2,000 years of history as an ecological centre.
So what's the fourth point, Dan?
So, the fourth aim is to inspire far more people who live
in this city and other cities to visit the countryside
and to enjoy our family of protected areas,
our Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, and our national parks.
Ordnance Survey have mapped all the green spaces in London.
I'm getting a first look.
What it does is it shows Londoners London as an entire landscape
and shows residents and visitors all these fantastic
places that they can go out and explore in.
So, what percentage of London is green?
So, incredibly, 49.5% of London is the green
and blue parts of London.
So the blue part is the rivers, the reservoirs and the canals,
And the green part of that figure are the millions of gardens,
3.8 million gardens across the capital.
-The natural nature reserves, the parklands.
That's huge, I wasn't expecting that at all, that's really surprisingly.
In London there are 8.8 million people,
so if every Londoner added one metre of green space to the
city by planting up one square metre of plants or something like that,
or just pulling up a paving slab and letting that go wild,
then the majority of London would become green.
But maybe most importantly, it would
just make the city more enjoyable and more beautiful to be in.
-It's just a win-win, really, isn't it?
I love this map, by the way.
It's a gorgeous map. As a geeky geographer, I love this map.
Yeah, me, too.
The Parkland Walk is precisely the kind of green space Daniel
wants to see more of in London.
It's a natural wonderland.
Cheek by jowl with hustle and bustle.
This is a perfect example of Daniel's guiding philosophy,
that the urban ecosystem is just as diverse
and rich as anything in the country.
It's London's longest and thinnest nature reserve,
but it started life, 150 years ago, as a railway line.
I think I might have missed the train.
The trains have long gone, now nature has taken over.
I'm meeting the local conservationists who keep it
Nature has reclaimed this land and it's flourishing, transforming this
disused relic of industrialisation into this stunning path.
But nature has had a helping hand along the way.
Volunteers have been quietly nurturing the space for more
than 30 years.
-Hello, everybody. Hello, Cathy.
-How are you doing?
-Everyone's hard at work.
Yes, they are hard at work making the place beautiful for all of us.
In the late 1980s, there was a
plan to build a major road down the Parkland Walk, and there was a huge
campaign, which is when the Friends of the Parkland Walk was born.
Hurray! You are the people, you're one of the first people responsible.
We have our roots as a campaigning group,
but now we are a conservation group.
Well, look, as a Londoner, and as somebody who
believes in creating more green spaces and getting people out and
being one with nature, I feel I should do some volunteering with
-you. Should I just get stuck in?
-Yeah, get stuck in.
I am always inspired by volunteers who give up their precious time,
and I am proud to be able to do my bit
to clean up a bit of nature in my city.
It's hard to imagine a more urban-sounding problem
than air pollution,
but as Tom's been finding out, its causes and effects are not
just found in our busiest cities, but also our remotest countryside.
The countryside, where you'd expect to breathe cleaner,
fresher air than in our towns.
Concerns over emissions in our cities are well-known,
with around 40,000 premature deaths attributed to air
pollution every year in the UK.
But what if I was to tell you that most of the air
pollution in northern Europe comes from agriculture?
The atmosphere has no boundaries, we all share the air we breathe
and any pollutants it contains.
And here in the country, the biggest one is ammonia.
It comes from agricultural emissions such as muck, and combines
with urban pollution like diesel fumes to form toxic particles.
For some, the result of that poisonous mix is very painful.
Like lung disease sufferer Jenny Ellingford.
Even here in rural Sussex,
she fights a daily battle with air pollution.
If you can imagine having a bit of cellophane put over your mouth
with a few pinpricks, that's what it feels like trying to get air.
People might be surprised that in an environment as beautiful
and apparently clean as this that you get these kind of problems.
You know, when you go into the town or the city, you know that
you've got that traffic pollution.
But here, particularly when they do what we call muck spreading,
it's very acrid.
And it hurts to actually breathe it in,
it's almost as if it's burning my windpipe.
Traditionally, slurry has been spread on crops
and pasture to provide nutrients to the soil.
But this increases the release of ammonia.
Just walking outside the door... Oh, God, it just hits me so badly.
And that can be a reason for not going out,
because I think, "Oh, if I go out, I'm just going to end up in trouble,
"so I might just as well stay home and at least I know I'm safe."
Livestock farming is responsible for 80% of Britain's
That's why I'm at such a glamorous location meeting
Professor David Fowler from the
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology just outside Edinburgh.
I guess when you're around here, you realise that where there's muck,
there's gas, and you can smell it in the air.
Yes, there's lots of ammonia here, released from the muck hill,
mainly when they make the muck hill and they distribute it on the land.
So, if I had my kind of magic ammonia goggles on here,
I could actually see it coming off the pile?
Yes, there would be a plume of ammonia going over us, yes.
And is ammonia itself dangerous?
Ammonia is benign in small concentrations.
But when it turns in the atmosphere into particles,
then it becomes more of a hazard.
What makes it harmful to us is the combination of pollutants
like diesel fumes with that ammonia gas.
I can see farmers thinking, "Oh, I'm getting blamed again."
It's a traditional feature of farming, if you like.
Farmers have been doing this for centuries.
Farmers are just doing their job, growing food
and working within the regulations that they need to do.
Most of the emission occurs as it's supplied.
If it's distributed on the land, on a hot sunny day, and just
left there, it will gradually release its ammonia to the air.
A loss to the farmer and a loss to the environment.
Ammonia and diesel fumes both contain high levels of nitrogen.
It's the most common element in the air
and a vital source of nutrients for plants.
But the extra emissions that we're adding are cooking up
trouble in our atmosphere.
Well, this is the very definition of field science, and David is going
to help me demonstrate how pollution from farming can cause a problem.
So in here we've got ammonia,
and this is equivalent to what we saw coming off the dung heap?
A little more concentrated, but it's the same stuff.
In here we've got nitric acid, which is
-like what comes off cars and other pollutants from traffic.
So when we mix the two...
Do it carefully.
And what is that I'm looking at that there?
That's ammonium nitrate particles, formed as the nitric acid
combines with the ammonia.
So that is a very concentrated example of what's
happening in the atmosphere around us
-when you mix pollutants from farming with traffic?
The plume of ammonia downwind of that muck hill will be making
particles with the nitric acid in the air.
I've already seen the damaging effect these particles can
have on people, especially the old, young or already sick,
but even without other pollutants,
the ammonia released is also affecting our environment.
On this pristine piece of blanket bog in East Lothian,
the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology are running a long-term
experiment on how this gas affects plants.
These pipes here release ammonia.
-So there's actual ammonia coming out of those holes?
And when the wind's in this direction,
it's carrying the ammonia down this transect.
And you can see here, it's turned the land into grassland.
And the heather has all died.
-And the grass and the area has grown very well.
-Well, you're not kidding.
It looks like a heather moorland up there,
and a grass heathland here.
And for a good few metres up there.
I can see it helps the grassy species, but across the country,
are there other things that are helped by this kind of environment?
Nettles, brambles, but more subtly, species diversity declines.
By contaminating the atmosphere, we're
changing the species composition of the UK.
It would be easy to blame the farmers for ammonia emissions,
but you do have to feel for them a bit in all this.
After all, manure is quite a natural product, whereas the
chemical alternatives come at a greater cost to the environment.
So is there a way of using the nutrients that manure provides
but with lower emissions?
That's what I'll be looking into later.
Where does our countryside end and the city begin?
At the margins, where rural meets urban.
A place where the natural world butts up
against the forces of progress.
Like airports, an essential part of any major city.
But they inevitably have an impact upon the environment.
And that has to be managed.
This is Runway 2 at Manchester Airport.
Before it was built,
it was at the centre of a storm of environmental protest.
Now, it's at the centre of a nature trail.
The nature trail, just yards from the runway,
is a tranquil place for locals to wander.
But it wasn't always this peaceful.
Manchester Airport are destroying the countryside for profit!
Back in 1997, protesters opposed to a second runway dug in.
The path of the new runway would cut through the Bollin river valley,
destroying ancient native woodlands and important wildlife habitat.
The airport had to pull out all the stops to minimise the impact.
20 years on, the River Bollin passes right under the runway
through this wildlife-friendly tunnel.
There are fish passes, roofs for bats
and a log corridor for small mammals and reptiles.
Down on the trail, nature seems little disturbed.
Adam Perry is part of Manchester Airport's environment team.
Wow, Adam, what a fantastic spot. It's quite weird to
think we're only a few hundred metres away from the airport.
It's beautiful, isn't it?
Really quiet and peaceful, and that really was quite important to us
as an airport to deliver something of value to the local communities.
We monitor all of the ecological works we do here at the airport.
And we know that we've got a really healthy watercourse with
small invertebrates right at the bottom in the soils
and the gravels, and we've got brown trout, as well, swimming quite
happily underneath the runway and through the tunnel.
And otters, which is really quite an exciting thing.
So it's important that the river is kept free from pollution.
No easy thing with a runway directly overhead.
Keeping contaminated run-off out of the river involves major
engineering and constant monitoring.
I'm with Mark Stewart from the environment team,
who's about to test the water.
Well, Mark, the River Bollin looks lovely and clean.
-How do you keep it that way?
-Well, we're going to take a sample, Sean.
So we'll have a look and see how clean it is.
If you could just drop this into the flow down there.
And as you can see, when you bring this up, this time of year,
-this will be absolutely perfectly clear.
-Yeah, I can see.
And what we'll do is decant it into this,
and then we'll send this away to the laboratory for it to be analysed.
As you can see, it's as clear as tap water, that.
-And that is the run-off from the runway?
-Run-off from Runway 2, yes.
That's coming off the airfield now and discharging into the river.
And that's tested how often?
It's tested online, so it's every six minutes our machines
are taking a sample, a sample of that, and that's being analysed
continuously, and it gives us real-time data every six minutes.
If there's a spillage involving anything from jet fuel to toilet
waste, even the foam used by the airport's firefighters, it takes
just six minutes to completely seal off
all the drainage from the airport.
The polluted surface water is then diverted and contained in storage
tanks and reservoirs, before being pumped away to treatment works.
But keeping a lid on the wider environmental impact involves
getting everybody on board.
We work with everybody who works on the airfield to make sure that,
for example, they're turning off the vehicle engines
when they're not actually moving.
Perhaps more significantly,
with the airlines who operate here at the airport.
So they, too, switch off their engines when they can. So you might
see aircraft taxiing to or from the runway with just one engine running.
And that's great for the airline because it saves them fuel
and cost, but it's also fantastic for the airport
and our local communities because it reduces carbon emissions,
it improves local air quality and it's also a little bit quieter.
Walking the line where city and countryside meet,
where both appear to be getting along just fine.
Our towns and cities are densely populated.
And all those mouths need to be fed.
The food that feeds the city comes mainly from the countryside.
But what if the future was different?
Here in Liverpool, they like to innovate.
With an expanding global population, the need to find new
ways to feed ourselves is becoming increasingly urgent.
And if you're a city dweller, the vast majority of your food
will be coming from distant rural farms, both in the UK and abroad.
And that can clock up some serious road miles and air miles.
But there is an alternative.
And it's right here in the heart of the city.
Acres and acres of rooftops
and disused spaces that could be given over to growing food.
Farm Urban is a pioneering scheme that's running trials
on Liverpool University's rooftop.
The system they're using goes back to ancient China.
It's called aquaponics. So what is it exactly?
Well, it's a combination of two well-known farming practices -
fish rearing and vegetable growing, with each system helping the other.
Here's how it works.
Fish are kept in big tanks, happily swimming around, feeding
and producing waste.
The water they swim in is passed through a filter,
where bacteria can put harmful ammonia in the waste into nitrates.
That nitrate-rich water feeds food crops,
before the clean water is then returned to the fish.
This system was installed by scientists Paul Myers
and Jens Thomas, who first met while studying for PhDs.
But the idea was sparked by a familiar problem.
Paul, how did this all start?
It was actually my 2½-year-old daughter Bella that
I've got to thank for all of this.
So I was trying to get her to eat salad and drink kale smoothies.
-It's a hard sell. So she was having none of it.
And then I put a small aquaponic system in my kitchen
and she took an interest in the fish and she wanted to feed them.
And then she started to smell and taste the leaves.
And now every morning, she wakes up
and she's excited to feed the fish, and we pick the leaves
and put them in a blender with an apple and some honey.
One thing led to another
and then we ended up installing this system up on the Guild of Students.
So, Jens, how does this compare with regular agriculture?
It's different - is it superior in some ways?
It's a very efficient form of agriculture,
we can grow stuff much quicker than in conventional agriculture.
But the main thing is, it allows us
to grow food in places where we wouldn't normally grow food.
So here we can grow food right where it's needed,
right next to the people that are buying it.
The way food is currently produced is inefficient
and unsustainable, and its distribution is really wasteful.
So we want to change all that. There's no transportation involved,
and that means we can optimise the food for the flavour
and nutrition, rather than the fact that it needs to be transported.
This is all a bit DI... What is this?
Polystyrene foam that's floating on top of the water?
These are actually insulation boards.
This whole system here was the first system we ever built.
And we got a budget of £2,000 from the university to do
a student start-up around sustainability.
So we begged, borrowed and stole tanks and scaffolding
and planks and built the aquaponic system you see here today.
Paul and Jens have taken their aquaponic systems
out into the community.
There's a unit installed at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, where the
young patients can enjoy the calm fascination of the fish
while salad grows above.
It's hoped the system will soon provide the hospital cafe
with all its leafy greens.
This eye-catching structure is at the entrance of
Liverpool Life Sciences college.
Where Ian Parry is the principal.
Ian, this is super striking, tell me about this.
So this is our double helix aquaponic system that the students
designed for us just over four years ago.
Very much to sit as a centrepiece to the student services area.
So, the kids not only built this, they designed it, as well?
They did, they worked with Farm Urban, and our engineering students
and biology students worked together to actually put this together.
And what do the students get out of understanding
aquaponics and urban farming?
I think it's about bringing those things to life,
it's about our engineering students actually being given
a real-life task, working alongside our biologists in a project
team and bringing it to life and making it real.
When I was a student and I was learning science,
it could be quite difficult to figure out what the
relevance of this is to your everyday life.
And when it comes to the food on your plate,
-it doesn't get any more relevant than that.
If urban farming is the future, then it's important that the next
generation of scientists is already on the case.
Here in the college laboratory,
Ben's one student looking at the effect of temperature on aquaponics.
So, Ben, I love a bit of geeky science kit. What's going on here?
Basically we've got two incubators - one's at a 20 degree,
one's at a 30 degree.
And we're testing how much it affects the bacteria
which we use in the filtration system.
We're basically seeing how fast they switch
ammonia into the nitrates and nitrites
in those different temperatures -
mainly to see if it would be more viable in colder regions
or hotter regions as a way of growing food.
So you could set up the same system in Antarctica or in Dubai,
-and it's about figuring out how that exactly works?
Deep in the basement of the college,
food is being grown in various prototype systems.
And the children from a local primary school have
arrived for a workshop with college students.
They get given the basic components,
so two storage bins from a certain Scandinavian home store,
some do-it-yourself plumbing kit, and a pump.
The rest is down to ingenuity.
They have to figure out how to build an aquaponic production pod,
like this one, without any instructions at all.
I think that's the thing that pumps the air into the tank for the fish.
As someone who tends not to bother with instructions,
I'm all for just giving it a go and seeing what happens.
-What are these?
-You tell me. Try and think what they could be used for.
We don't like to step in very much, it's only if
they're really struggling.
We'll try and ask them questions that could prise
the answer from them themselves, and I think it helps them
understand it more if they figure it out themselves.
How is the water going to get from the bottom tank to the top tank?
Humanity is going to urgently need the best
and brightest minds to work on food solutions for the future.
Who knows, maybe it's all starting in a Liverpool basement.
Or maybe on the rooftops, where crops are already
growing that will travel food feet instead of food miles.
Earlier, we heard how air pollution is affecting the countryside.
Emissions from livestock farming are posing a threat to our health
and our ecosystems. But can a change in approach help turn things around?
The use of slurry and manure as a fertiliser on farmland
creates ammonia gas, which is
a major contributor to air pollution across the UK.
The pollution can be harmful for us.
It just felt as if my lungs were just closing up
and this horrible feeling of suffocation.
And it's damaging our ecosystem.
Manure isn't a bad thing.
In fact, the organic matter it contains -
and I seem to be sinking into - is vital for soil health.
But it can also emit harmful gases.
That's why I'm looking into how farmers can still use slurry,
but in a way that emits less, wastes less and still gives great results.
Could it be that rather than spreading it on the soil,
we inject it directly where it's needed?
On this Cambridgeshire farm, run by Gavin Hughes,
they're giving it a go.
Soil scientist John Williams explains how it works.
So, what am I looking at behind me here?
Well, you are looking at some slurry being spread with precision
application equipment, which is
supplying wonderful plant nutrients to the soil.
Applying slurry in a spray produces high levels of ammonia gas
and wastes a lot of the nutrients.
Whereas this system is targeting it straight at the roots.
They're injecting it into the ground
and putting it right on the soil surface, so we're able to
get the slurry exactly where the crops need the nutrients.
We're minimising the ammonia-emitting surface
area of the slurry, so we're reducing the ammonia emissions,
typically by anything up to around about 50%, compared with
conventional surface broadcasts.
As a farmer, Gavin, what do you make of it? Are you convinced?
I'm tempted. It's clearly a useful tool for us.
But I guess it costs a bit,
and a lot of dairy farmers are up against it.
Contractors can pick these up, spread their cost over a larger
area, so as individual dairy farmers,
we have to look at the value it's going to give us.
So although a contractor rate might be slightly higher, we're
going to get a better return through better utilisation of slurry.
In countries that have more intensive livestock farming,
like Holland and Denmark, ammonia emissions are strictly
regulated, and techniques like this are standard.
But in the UK, we're lagging behind.
Aside from what goes on in the field,
are there other things farmers could be doing to cut pollution?
It is important to have sufficient storage capacity
for slurry, so that we're not spending the slurries
at the wrong time of the year.
It's important to spread the slurries in the spring
to minimise the risk of nitrate-leeching losses.
Also, there is potential to cover slurry stores to reduce
the ammonia emissions which come from the slurry stores.
Put all these things together, it seems to me that it is possible
for farming to reduce its contribution to air pollution
-whilst still producing plenty of food.
No, there is plenty of potential there.
In the last few days, the Government has published its plans
to tackle air pollution.
New petrol and diesel vehicles, for instance,
will be banned from 2040.
But there is no mention at all of agricultural emissions.
So are they taking the issue seriously enough?
Andrea Lee, a Healthy Air Campaigner for ClientEarth, doesn't think so.
Agricultural emissions, especially ammonia emissions,
are a serious health concern.
And the Government has recently said it is on track to actually miss
its legal obligations, the targets it has to hit by 2020.
So we think that it's got three years
to try and tackle this problem.
They should just get on and inject some urgency
into dealing with the problem.
Is voluntary enough, or is it time for the regulatory stick?
We would favour there to be regulation,
but also support from the Government to help farmers, you know,
manage their farms, contribute less to the problem.
Just 20% of UK farms contribute 85% of ammonia emissions
for the whole of the UK.
So you could do a lot, actually, by really targeting the support
and focusing on these key farms.
When pressed about their plans to tackle emissions from agriculture,
the Government gave us this response...
Back in Sussex, those changes can't come too soon for Jenny,
whose lung condition means she has to check her oxygen levels daily.
Over the last three weeks,
my oxygen levels have been about 88,
which is not very good.
If I actually went to A&E, they'd keep me in.
So you think, for farmers, now they know about these things,
they could be making little adjustments
that could help quite a lot?
I really believe that, if we could find another way of fertilising
our fields without causing breathing problems,
it would be really wonderful.
Whatever the source, air pollution doesn't respect the boundary
of town and country
and emissions from agriculture can harm our health
and even change plant life.
Tackling it won't be easy
but, done right, we could achieve the win-win
of more nutrients reaching the crop
and less air pollution in the atmosphere.
Finding green space for nature can be tricky in the city.
So what if the water supply could double up as wildlife habitat?
At this reservoir in the heart of Hackney in North London,
drinking water and wildlife are natural neighbours.
This is Woodberry Wetlands.
Once upon a time, this place was all barbed wire and fences,
but lucky Londoners have just gained access to it
for the first time in more than 180 years.
Built in the 19th century,
the reservoir was always closed to the public...until recently.
Working with Thames Water,
London Wildlife Trust has carefully built an urban oasis.
One local lad taking full advantage of the new access is Nathan Legall.
So, Nathan, a Londoner born and bred, and now a wildlife ranger?
Yeah, I'm here working on the reserve
and helping to protect this for nature and for local people.
Why is it so important to have something like this
in the heart of a city?
Green space in London is very precious.
When you come from the main road, you would not expect
to see this spectacle of wildlife that you have here.
People always come here, and when they come through the main entrance,
they have to stand there, just simply in awe.
Having a reserve like this right in the heart of London
is almost unheard of.
-We are in Zone 2 of London,
literally get off the Tube at Manor House, Zone 2,
and then walk 10 minutes down the road, and here you are.
You could put it on your tourist trail of London, couldn't you?
You could go and see Buckingham Palace,
Houses of Parliament, jump on a Tube,
-Woodbury Wetland Reserve.
Later on, I'll be exploring the wetlands
with an unusual photographer.
But first, we're catching up with Adam,
who has been in Lincolnshire meeting up with an ex-serviceman
who is helping to repair the lives of fellow veterans through farming.
Wide-open spaces and nutrient-rich soils
make Lincolnshire an agricultural land of plenty.
Walking in the quiet countryside across this lovely old meadow
gives a feeling of peacefulness in this corner of Britain.
And it's this sense of calm that's found in the landscape
that has helped one local farmer
turn his life around after nearly 20 years at war.
Jamie Quinn served in the RAF ground forces
during both the Belize and the Falklands conflict.
Then, in 1998, he was discharged with post-traumatic stress disorder.
He struggled for more than a decade,
and gradually, his condition worsened.
He was unable to work and his life was turned upside down.
-You must be Jamie.
-Yeah, hello, Adam.
Good to see you. What a lovely Jersey cow.
Yeah, she calved last week...
-The turning point came in January this year when,
with the help of his friends and family,
Jamie took on a 100-acre tenanted farm.
So how did you come about taking on this farm?
Well, I worked out that, at my age and with my disabilities,
going into paid employment
was probably not a viable option any more,
and worked out that my skill set was suitable towards agriculture.
And then, lo and behold, two miles from home, 97 acres came up.
And our offer was accepted.
Jamie, can you explain where you were
when you were at your worst, really, about a year ago?
Um...well, I was...
..isolating myself, not talking to people.
Personal hygiene was not a high priority.
In some of my, sort of, darkest periods,
I have literally gone and moved in
with the cattle for two or three days,
and actually slept in the cow shed, along with cow.
They are, yeah... There is a cow out there
that you could probably say saved my life.
There is a relation, do you think,
between what you have learnt in the forces
-to working on a farm?
-Oh, yeah, absolutely.
Not least of which, we're used to being out in all weathers
and we are all used to working with anything from a spade
right the way up to some quite sophisticated equipment.
Farming is a very stressful occupation.
It could be that it's the right sort of stress for that individual.
Jamie is still on his first year at the farm,
but has already taken on a herd of Aberdeen Angus and Lincoln Reds.
These are calves that we bought in,
a mixture of Hereford crosses with Dairy Shorthorns
and Aberdeen Angus crossed with the Holstein.
Recently, we have just gotten into the Lincoln Reds,
which are ideal for me
because the Lincoln Red has a reputation for being easy-calving.
Saves on vet bills, quiet and placid,
and a frugal animal.
That's great. They'll make lovely cows for breeding, won't they?
Yeah, I particularly like these ones.
In fact, we're looking at probably keeping one ourselves
to expand the herd in due course.
But, obviously, we've got to keep the bank manager happy
in these early days.
So it's about cash flow, moving stock through?
Now Jamie is helping others like himself to get back on track.
Today, he has invited three fellow ex-servicemen to the farm
to teach them the ropes.
-Penny Connorton from the charity Farm-Able
helps veterans struggling with PTSD to find work on farms like Jamie's.
Penny, can you explain to me what PTSD is all about,
and what these guys are experiencing?
Post-traumatic stress can be flashbacks, nightmares,
waking up in the night screaming.
It can come out years after the actual trauma
and the average time is usually about 14 years.
14 years later? Seems like an extraordinarily long time.
-Jamie seems to be getting on very well on this farm.
How is it helping, do you think?
Just having the space and the freedom around
to be able to choose what he does, how he works, and at his own pace.
It's a wonderful healing mechanism.
And also being together with the guys
that know what they're going through.
They've all been somewhere in a war situation,
and so they all have this camaraderie.
And it isn't just about the veteran,
it's the families, too.
Everybody is affected in that family unit.
If you can get the understanding and coping mechanisms within the family,
and bring them to something like this,
the successes are amazing.
Kevin served in the Navy for 13 years
and saw conflict in the Falklands,
while more recently, Gary completed several tours in Iraq.
Do you mind me asking, you know,
how you got into the position you were in?
It goes back to a long way, about '82.
I don't want to go too deeply into it,
but I will say that the ship I was on
was the first one sunk in the Falklands.
And what it is about the farm environment,
do you think, that helps you?
I've never been into farms, and yet,
I come here and I can forget anything and everything.
For most people, we're in Civvy Street,
and we've got no idea what people in the military have gone through.
How do you adapt to that, coming home?
I think that is one of the most difficult parts,
especially for me, was when I left the tours behind,
it was trying to adapt to becoming a civilian again
when, really, you've still got that mind-set.
At the time, I went back to what I knew, and that was still drinking.
The best thing to do, in my opinion,
instead of leaving it until the very last minute -
until the money has ran out and the beer's ran out
and all your options have kind of run out -
just get out there, be around like-minded people.
Be around the people who have been through what you've been through.
-Had a good time today?
-Yeah, it's been a really good time, yeah.
Surprisingly. I wouldn't have saw myself on a farm, to be honest.
So it's a bit of a shock. But, yeah, it's good.
So I'll give you a little tip. If you have your hand like that,
you can just put their legs in your hand,
-and then they'll just sit on you like that.
-Let's have a try.
Quick learner. Beautiful.
-Look at that.
Jamie has even started reviving some age-old farming practices
to keep the veterans on their toes.
Jamie, this is brilliant. How did you get into training oxen?
-It was a bet with the local farmer.
Come on, missus. Walk on.
He had a calf that had lost its mother - it was a Hereford.
He said, "Well, if you can train it as a draft animal,
"you can have it."
-And we were both sober at the time!
We used to have a few on the farm back home,
but we haven't got any at the moment.
It's lovely to see them working.
It's something that's completely new to them.
Everybody is on the same level.
Having to work with the land, not against it,
with the animal, not against her,
and together as a team.
And, obviously, the odd mistake happens,
and that is fair game for a bit of leg pulling and banter.
With Jamie's help, Farm-Able hope to get two veterans
working on farms in every county in the UK,
enabling homeless or troubled heroes to connect with the land.
It's been great meeting the guys
and interesting that many tenanted farms like this one
would have been used originally to provide work
for heroes returning from World War I.
And now Jamie, who has also served for Queen and country,
is using the land and animals to help inspire others.
He's sharing his experiences and knowledge of farming
to help repair the lives of many of his fellow veterans.
ANITA: This week, we're celebrating the green spaces in our cities,
like Woodberry Wetlands in Hackney - one of London's greenest.
A reservoir that's a wildlife reserve,
a secret pocket of countryside from a time
when all around would have been fields.
Now open to the public for the first time in 200 years,
it's a big hit with the locals.
This group of grandparents and grandchildren
visit as often as possible.
So, Carol, how important is it to have this on your doorstep?
It's really important. Some of these children -
well, most of the children - haven't got gardens.
They haven't got these facilities, and we're very fortunate,
and we've never looked back.
We come here about twice a week, and the children love it.
They get so much out of it, it's untrue, you know?
This is the garden that I never had.
-What have we got?
There we go.
There's one local resident with a view I can't wait to see.
Daphne Hart has lived here for nearly 40 years.
-Wait till I open the window.
There you go.
Wow. What an incredible view.
Yeah, I love it. I absolutely love it.
I don't have to go for a ride to the country.
I've got it all here.
I've got the greenery, I've got the water.
Words can't explain how I feel.
I think it's...phantasmagorical.
-It's beyond words, I think...
-It's a great word.
..but it is wonderful.
And whoever comes up here cannot believe that,
you know, this view.
My mother used to say, when she used to come up here,
she used to say, "You need never be depressed.
"When you look at this window, you have all the four seasons."
And I feel so privileged to be able to live here.
You are very, very lucky.
-Let's just have a look at the wildlife.
-Look at those beautiful birds.
-Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
We're in London, you know?
-I can't believe we are in Hackney.
I can't believe it.
-Would you ever move?
Never, never, never, never.
I don't live too far away, so I'm going to pop in
for a cup of tea every now and again, for this...
-For the conversation, obviously.
-Oh, shut up.
-The company and the view.
-Yeah, yeah, yeah, you schmoozer!
But it is not just the people who love the green space.
There is a wide variety of wildlife returning to the land.
Earlier, I met Nathan Legall,
a ranger for the London Wildlife Trust.
That's still a working reservoir, isn't it, and always has been?
Yeah. So if you live anywhere north of the Thames,
some of your drinking water actually comes from Woodberry.
It wasn't always as clean as this, though, was it?
No, unfortunately, at one point they actually used chlorine
to clean the water, and that meant the reserve
basically became devoid of any wildlife and plants.
So when they stopped doing that,
the reserve bloomed with wildlife once again.
So what kind of species do you have here?
We actually have around 109 different bird species
that visit in any average year.
Aside from the birds, there are some pretty special invertebrates
making their home here, too.
So what we have are a range of different moth species.
We actually have a family of moths called wainscots.
So wainscots actually make use of our reed bed habitat here.
And reed beds are very infrequent in the city.
And who is this one? This is beautiful.
So that is an elephant hawk-moth.
-Very beautiful pink and greenish-yellow.
The fact that the area's been left to do its own thing
and the plants have been able to take over and bloom
means that we get a range of invertebrates here
that you wouldn't get outside.
So these moths are evidence that this place
is a vibrant hub for nature?
Yeah, so what we do is manage the reserve in a nature-sensitive way.
So every year, we see changes in the different birds
and different species of plants and invertebrates that we get here.
So every year, we're seeing an increase in diversity.
Such an abundance of nature has caught the eye
of an award-winning wildlife photographer.
Sam Hobson specialises in capturing the unexpected in the city.
-Good to see you.
-How are you doing?
Have you seen anything spectacular?
I've just been watching the common terns.
It's not a bird you'd expect to see in the middle of London.
So why did you choose to photograph wildlife in a city?
It's not the first place you'd think.
I grew up in London, so I guess I'd seen wildlife everywhere,
and I'd come home with these tales of,
"Oh, I just saw this thing round the corner."
I didn't feel like people believed me.
So picking up the camera was my way of just showing
there's nature all around us - it's right on your doorstep.
I really try and make a point of including some background,
some context, that shows it's, you know,
somewhere familiar to a city dweller.
So does this excite you, then,
the fact that we got the reserve and buildings all around?
There's tonnes of potential here.
-I have had a little recce, and I've wandered around the whole bit.
So there's a really beautiful spot I'd like to take you to.
-See what you think.
So if you've been inspired to do some wildlife photography
and step outside your front door, whether it be rural or urban,
you'll want to know what the weather's doing.
Here is the Countryfile forecast for the week ahead.
We're taking a look at our cities and their green spaces.
Here at Manchester Airport,
we have seen how the staff work hard to look after the wildlife
just outside the perimeter fence.
Being so close to nature has its advantages,
and it has its disadvantages, too.
Bird strikes are a threat during takeoff and landing.
It's not good for the birds
and it's really not good for the jet engines,
and that is why there's a team of wildlife experts
patrolling this area around the runways 24 hours a day.
Meet Scarecrow, Manchester Airport's crack wildlife team.
These lot never rest,
permanently on duty, scanning the skies and grasslands,
looking for birds and other wildlife around the runways
that could pose a danger.
It's all part of the job for Paul Kennedy.
Paul. Busy at work?
Our objective, obviously, is to keep the airfield safe
and free from bird activity.
It's essential that we keep the actual runway
clear of all wildlife.
And this is what a bird strike looks like.
A few years ago, we had a Thomson taking off,
and just on departure
there was a bird ingested
into the number two engine.
And the crew were fabulous, the captain was so calm.
-Mayday, Mayday, Mayday.
Thomson 253H, engine failure.
We are continuing with north-westerly,
and then inbound towards Wallasey.
Went and flew off around the Wirral to burn fuel off for a wee while,
then came back, calm as anything.
And if there's a problem, what can you do?
How much power have you got to stop flights?
Well, if there is a major problem, as in say, for example...
..I thought there was a flock of birds near or on the runway,
I am in constant contact with the tower,
and I would warn them and, if need be,
I would ask them to send the next aircraft to go around,
or hold the aircraft before departure.
So when they get the call from you, they know it's serious.
-It's serious, yeah.
Like all of Team Scarecrow, Paul is trained in wildlife behaviour,
and he has some clever kit at his disposal
to scare away unwanted visitors.
This machine plays the distress calls
of the airport's most common birds.
We just move the pointer towards the bird that we want to scare away.
We've got the rook.
And you'll hear the noise. It's quite loud - be careful.
Yeah, I mean, I'm finding that quite distressing.
-I can't imagine what the rooks feel like.
-It is quite loud, isn't it?
-Yes, it's loud.
We have the lapwing.
And then, or else, we could have the common gull.
What if that doesn't work, Paul?
Well, if that doesn't work, then we have to bring out the big guns.
-Could I just pass you those?
-Protect my ears.
-Just put those on.
-You have to wear the cool glasses as well, do you?
-Oh, thanks very much.
-So a double bang...
-..and that's definitely going to scare them away, isn't it?
-But what if that doesn't happen?
-If that doesn't happen,
-then...we have to go to Plan Z.
-What's Plan Z?
Plan Z is a secret method.
And...and you're not supposed to show this to anybody.
So...you have to do this with me.
You get to do your job and act like a child.
-A dream job.
Well, that's it for this week.
I hope you've enjoyed our focus on our cities.
Anita, what's coming up next week?
Well, Sean, next week,
Ellie will be looking at the power of flowers.
It's going to be BLOOMING great.
We'll see you then.
Countryfile takes a look at our cities and the green spaces and wildlife that can be found there. Anita Rani is in London at the remarkable Woodberry Wetlands, a haven for all sorts of wildlife just a stone's throw from the tower blocks of Stoke Newington. She spends time with the locals keeping this patch of London green and meets 'guerrilla explorer' Daniel Ellison, a man on a mission to make London the UK's first National Park city.
Anita also meets up with urban wildlife photographer Sam Hobson to see if they can photograph a pair of nesting common terns and the very rare hornet moth.
Sean Fletcher is at Manchester Airport with the environment team. It's their job to make sure that the impact on the wildlife and the environment around the runways is kept to a minimum. He also spends time with the crack squad of bird scarers who use some clever tricks to keep wild birds off the runways.
James Wong is in Liverpool seeing how rooftops and disused spaces are being used to grow fresh vegetables.
Tom Heap looks at air pollution and finds it's as much a problem in our countryside as our cities, and Adam Henson meets the ex-serviceman helping other ex-forces personnel rebuild their lives through farming.