Ellie Harrison meets scientists bringing endangered conifer species back to Scotland and also discovers what impact beavers are having on the countryside.
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The green beating heart of Scotland.
Perthshire is big tree country.
A land packed with high and mighty trees.
Whether they're very old or very young,
Perthshire has them all, and it doesn't stop there.
This is reputed to be the birthplace of modern Scottish forestry too,
thanks to some pretty savvy plant hunters.
I'll be finding out how these planters completely
transformed this landscape.
Out along the banks of the River Tay,
another transformation is taking place.
This is the biggest reed bed in the United Kingdom.
At this time of year, it's being harvested for thatching.
But the reeds also provide sanctuary for some very special wildlife.
Tom's finding out how faith affects our food on a journey
that takes him from the farm to the abattoir.
The killing of animals according to religious teaching
for halal or kosher meat supplies is controversial,
because sometimes the animal is not stunned prior to slaughter.
So is this practice growing
and how do you balance the competing demands of animal welfare
and religious freedom? I'll be investigating.
And Adam's got his hands full.
These are Iron Age piglets. Today I'm turning them out into the field.
It's the first time they've ever experienced the great outdoors.
I think they're going to love it.
At the heart of Scotland,
Perthshire straddles the Highlands and the Lowlands.
It's a land of remarkable natural beauty,
captivating history and magnificent wildlife.
Scotland's longest and grandest river, the Tay, bisects Perthshire
as it descends from the wild and rugged southern Highlands
through heather-clad moors and rolling hills,
to fertile farmland in the east.
Perthshire is known as big tree country, and it's easy to see why.
It's home to some of Britain's most remarkable trees like this one,
the Fortingall Yew.
It's thought to be one of the oldest surviving life forms in Europe.
Nobody's sure exactly how old it is, because, as it's grown,
it's split, and the original heartwood rings
which would establish its true age are long gone.
But it could be 9,000 years old,
which means it would have been growing here
before even the pyramids were built.
Although the trees that cover the hills around here
are younger than that,
some of the forest can be traced way back
to the retreat of the ice caps at the end of the last ice age.
This is an ancient Caledonian pine forest.
In the past, forests like this would have blanketed the Highlands,
but now there are just a few small pockets of them left.
In the dim and distant past, these forests would have been home
to wolves and bears,
beavers and boars.
They're long gone, but there's plenty of other flora and fauna
that thrive here.
Rob Coope is an ecologist and forester
from the Forestry Commission.
Rob, how good is this type of forest for the plants
and animals that it supports?
It's tremendous. Fantastic, really.
As a native woodland, it's been here for 9,000 years or so,
and in that time, all of the plants and animals
have become accustomed to one another.
Altogether, we know of about 3,500 species in this forest.
It is, from a species point of view, it is extremely varied.
The forest is dominated by Scots pine trees that have just been nominated
as Scotland's national tree.
And we have juniper and yew.
These are the only three native conifers that we have Britain.
We also have, in this area, a lot of birch and a lot of rowan as well.
Everywhere you look in this forest, on every tree,
you will see lots and lots of lichen.
Altogether in the wood, we have probably 130 species of lichen.
Here's one that's very filamentous, and there's one that's very flat.
They're incredibly diverse.
They indicate good clean air,
but they also indicate a very healthy biodiversity.
There are whole series of species that live in here,
but some of them are very, very specialised.
One of the ones that is very characteristic
to this type of woodland is a small beetle, a very dull-looking beetle,
but lives only in dying pine.
Not live pine, not dead pine, but dying pine.
It means that, every year, there has to be some dying pine in the forest.
From an ecologist's point of view, that tells you that the forest
is going through a continual natural process of growth and death.
So this little dull beetle tells us
a very important story about the forest.
Even in the middle of winter, it seems so lush and green.
I imagine in the summer, it's, sort of, richer still, is it?
The diversity's here now - it's just that we can't see it.
Most of the insects, for instance, are all hibernating.
They're all hiding from the Scottish weather!
It's the weather that was responsible for wiping out
much of the Caledonian pine forest.
Nearby Rannoch Moor, now one of the bleakest spots in Britain,
but it wasn't always like this.
Once, it was covered with trees.
Then 4,000 years ago, a change in the climate meant
they all disappeared.
The only traces that remain are twisted roots in the peaty grave.
The same thing happened within this forest here.
Someone who's investigated what happened
is Dr Richard Tipping from the University of Stirling.
-Found anything interesting?
-What have you got?
-Remnants of old pine trees.
This is a root that's just come out. Another one there.
-And handfuls of the bark of these things as well.
So what was it, all those all those years ago,
that caused the trees to die out in this way?
We think, unfortunately, that trees growing on peat bogs,
this is an old peat bank that people have been digging for fuel.
But around 4,000 years ago,
it got much, much wetter, really quite quickly.
These trees died out, because as the water table rises in the peat,
these things can no longer take in oxygen.
They become starved, effectively, and so they die.
What you have is an entire forest from northern Scotland
down into the central lowlands pretty much dying at the same time.
So you have a snapshot of Scotland in prehistory,
some 4,000 years ago.
What lessons can we learn from what happened?
Climate change happens really very rapidly.
When we look back into prehistory,
we can recognise these climate shifts
are happening in less than ten years, sometimes.
These are very substantial climate changes.
-So we need to ready ourselves for change?
Otherwise, we end up like the pine trees.
Later, I'll be looking at how Perthshire
finally reversed the trend of deforestation
long after those devastating events,
and what tree conservationists are doing to prepare for the future.
Now, there are fresh calls
for meat that comes from religious slaughtering
to be labelled in our supermarkets,
but is there really any need?
Tom's report contains some images you may find upsetting.
Farm animals peacefully grazing by a lake.
An idyllic view of British agriculture.
But these sheep won't be here for much longer.
It's not a subject that most of us like to dwell on,
but we all know where most of these sheep are going to end up,
and that's the slaughterhouse.
For almost every one of the animals that end up on our dinner plate,
the process of slaughter is pretty much the same.
They're first stunned and then killed straight afterwards,
dying through blood loss.
So, in the case of sheep like these, they're rendered unconscious,
usually by an electrical stunning device, before the main blood
vessels in their neck are severed.
But on that journey from farm to fork,
when it comes to Jewish kosher meat or Islamic halal,
prepared in accordance with religious teachings,
the last few moments of the animal's life are clouded by controversy.
So what is it about halal and kosher meat
that provokes such contentious debate?
We're very keen to see the slaughter process for ourselves,
but many abattoirs aren't that enthusiastic
about letting the cameras in.
But here, at the biggest Muslim-owned slaughterhouse in Europe,
they did open the doors, because they say they've got nothing to hide.
Rizvan Khalid's abattoir is capable of processing
15,000 carcasses per week,
and he says animal welfare is his main priority.
Why have you felt comfortable to let us in here?
What we wanted to do, really, is just to be open and transparent
and show people how things are done.
And the sheep look pretty relaxed -
they're not sort of bleating or banging a lot in here, are they?
Yes, we've done a lot of work to try to make sure the environment
is conducive to the sheep's natural behaviours
and to slaughter them in the best possible way.
Well, we better go through and see that slaughter process for ourselves.
Yeah, on you go.
There is very little difference between what is happening here
and in most other abattoirs in Britain.
The animals are let in, stunned with an electric charge, and then,
seconds later, the slaughterman severs the vital blood vessels
with a cut to the neck.
What makes this halal is that a practising Muslim
is slaughtering the animal uttering the Tasmiyya,
an Islamic prayer.
HE PRAYS IN ARABIC
The whole process lasts probably 15 seconds, if that.
And what you're seeing here,
with the exception of the blessing part,
pretty much is the same for any joint that would end up
on your Sunday table.
And what is the purpose of the prayer?
The purpose of the prayer from a halal perspective is
that we cannot kill animals for no reason.
We're slaughtering animals over here for food
and we have to have the permission of God to enable us to do that.
Without the prayer, the animal's not halal.
And what is actually different between what's going on here
-and a mainstream slaughterhouse?
-Besides the blessing, nothing.
What we have seen so far is the norm for around 84% of halal slaughter,
but what's causing the controversy is what happens to the remaining 16%,
animals which are killed without being stunned first.
This is done because some Muslims interpret the religious text
to mean that animals have to be fully conscious when slaughtered,
partly to ensure they hear the Islamic prayer as they die.
It's an issue that's pitted religious rights against animal welfare.
Here, just a small number of animals are not stunned.
So the next sheep coming through,
they're going to slaughter without stunning.
The animal's head is held back, the knife goes in, the blessing is said.
Yeah, it was conscious at the point when its throat was cut,
but it was very, very quick.
Of course, I can't tell what's going on in the brain of that animal,
but in terms of speed, at least, it was pretty much the same.
It's thought less than a fifth of all halal sheep meat
is slaughtered without stunning.
But it's not just an issue for Islam.
In the Jewish faith, for meat to be considered kosher,
every animal has to be conscious at the point of slaughter.
'President-Elect of the British Veterinary Association,
'believes whether halal or kosher, killing any animal
'without stunning is an unnecessary compromise to welfare.'
Why do you think it's cruel not to stun animals?
All the evidence shows that animals that aren't stunned prior
to slaughter don't immediately lose consciousness,
so therefore, they are sensible, they can feel pain,
they can feel stimulation, and that process goes on for anything...
five, six seconds before they actually lose consciousness.
There's some research that's come out of New Zealand
where they've anaesthetised animals and checked their brain activity
what we use in human medicine to show brain death.
And this quite clearly shows
that there is increased electrical activity
within the brain before that period of unconsciousness comes.
-So what do you think should happen now?
we'd like to see an end of the practice of non-stunned slaughter
throughout the UK and all animals to be slaughtered
effectively stunned prior to slaughter.
An animal welfare in this case trumps religious sensibility?
It's not just the British Veterinary Association
that thinks it's unacceptable.
So too do bodies like Compassion in World Farming and the RSPCA.
And they're not alone.
As of February, the lawmakers in Denmark banned religious slaughter
without prior stunning, joining the likes of Norway,
Iceland, Switzerland, Sweden and Poland.
But there are no plans to follow suit here.
'Nadeem Adam, from the Halal Monitoring Committee,
'is one of those in the Muslim community that believes
'only non-stunned animals can be truly halal.'
From an Islamic perspective,
it's obviously important that the animal is alive
and conscious at the point of slaughter.
First and foremost,
so the animal is blessed, and it can hear the words of God
before it departs this world, and, more importantly,
if an animal is stunned, there has been research
and there have been instances where animals are found to be dead
prior to slaughter and if this was to enter the supply chain
and a Muslim was to consume it,
it wouldn't actually be...it wouldn't be halal for them to do so.
But do you not think, you know,
stunned halal might be a good compromise
with the majority culture of Britain,
which does worry a great deal about animal welfare?
I think, when it comes to religion,
I don't think there is a compromise, unfortunately.
Purely because the laws of the land here, in the UK,
allow the Muslim community, and the Jewish community,
to practise religious slaughter,
and we're only practising what rights we have here.
Whilst Nadeem's interpretation of what is truly halal
is shared by just some Muslims,
in the Jewish faith, for meat to be considered kosher,
it is essential that all animals are fully conscious when killed.
Shimon Cohen is Campaign Director of Shechita UK,
a group set up to promote awareness of the Jewish slaughter method.
The whole process of slaughtering animals within the Jewish tradition
begins well before the last two seconds of the animal's life.
This begins at birth, on the farm.
We're biblically commanded to be good to animals,
they are God's creatures. We have to look after them,
we have to be concerned about the way
that they're brought up on the farm,
we have to be very concerned about their transportation.
We have to be concerned about the whole life of the animal,
not just the last two seconds of the animal's life.
Do you not accept that some form of anaesthetical stunning
-prior to having your throat cut would be less painful?
Mechanical stunning methods, so well-loved by the animal
welfare lobby, actually go wrong very, very many times.
And the European Food Standards Agency is very troubled
with some of the mechanical stunning methods.
There's very little that can go wrong in the Shechita method
when you have a highly trained slaughterman,
a very sharp blade and an animal.
But this isn't just an issue about how meat is prepared
for religious communities.
It's hard enough to balance the competing demands of animal welfare
and religious tradition within the kosher and halal market,
but there's also another problem -
it's believed that much non-stunned meat
is being sold to people who don't know anything about it
and definitely wouldn't welcome it on their dinner plates.
What's being done about that? I'll be finding out later.
JOHN: The mighty estuary of the River Tay,
where Scotland's longest river finally meets the sea.
At two miles wide,
it carries more water than the Thames and the Severn put together.
The Tay is perhaps best known for its superb salmon fishing,
but here, at the estuary, it's also renowned for this -
the largest continuous stretch of reed bed in the UK.
Running for nearly ten miles along the north bank,
these reeds act as a natural barrier shielding the fertile
agricultural land beyond them from erosion.
But they don't just protect the land,
they're also a haven for birds and they're good for providing thatch.
'Graham Craig has been harvesting the reeds for 40 years,
'and today, I'm here to see how he does it.'
-Is this a good time of the year to be harvesting?
-It is, yes.
It's the only time of the year we can harvest.
The reed is dry, the leaf is off, and there's no nesting birds,
-so it's the perfect time for us.
-It's an intriguing-looking machine.
-It is indeed.
-Can I come on board?
What's going to happen to this reed now, then, Graham?
All the reed we're harvesting will go for thatching.
-And is there still a big demand then for it?
-There is, yes.
For the amount we harvest here,
cos we're now not harvesting on a commercial basis,
we're harvesting for the conservation purposes, so we are...
So this is a kind of side product now, then.
-..for the thatching.
For the RSPB, this is a side product for them. Yes, aha.
Why is it important then to keep cutting down the reed?
Different birds like different types of habitat.
As we come down the bed,
you would see different areas that I've uncut,
so we do it on a six-year rotation.
After the six years... start the cycle again.
So the different birds like the different densities of the reed.
And that way, you maintain this wonderful open reed landscape.
-And make a bit of money as well.
And make a bit of money for the RSPB at the same time.
As well as thatch, reed beds offer something very special.
Here, you'll find some impressive wetland wildlife.
In particular, these reed beds are the home
of two species of bird which are pretty rare in this country.
And I want to find out a little bit more about them.
They're the elusive water rail and the bearded tit,
and someone who knows their favourite haunts is Steve Moyes
of the Tay Ringing Group.
How do you find these birds in these dense reeds?
With bearded tits, we use various methods. We plays tapes
and we trap them in nets,
and we ring them and measure them.
And the water rail, we play tapes and the pairs respond,
-and we can count them from that.
-Have you got the tape there?
SHRILL BIRD CALL PLAYS
It's a pig-like bellow that they have.
A "pig-like bellow"! I like that!
BIRDS CALL There's a response.
Yes, they're calling now. It's the pair.
-They'll move together.
-How far away will they be?
Perhaps eight or nine metres.
It's very rare to actually see them.
-That's the frustrating bit.
-You set up this sound ambush for them,
you can hear them, but you can't see them.
What does that tell you, that sound?
Well, it tells you they're on territory,
and it's a good territory, and they want to protect it.
And from now on, there will be more and more pairs come in,
and there will be a lot of territorial squabbling and disputes.
And they are quite aggressive birds, aren't they?
Oh, yes. They're incredibly feisty birds.
They have very sharp claws and very sharp bills,
and they'll take eggs and take chicks of others.
They probably take bearded tits quite often!
It looks to me as though you're putting out extra food for them.
No, it's not food. It's grit for the bearded tits.
Why do they need grit?
The bearded tits, they change their diet around September, October time.
And they change from invertebrates to eating reed seed.
They need the grit in their gizzard to help them grind the seed down.
If they didn't have the grit, they'd starve.
They wouldn't be able to feed.
Just tell me a little bit about their lifestyle.
They're hatched in the reeds, they stay in the reeds.
They feed in the reeds.
They're very mobile. They move along the whole of the reed bed.
They're very unusual in that it seems they pair up
when they're still juveniles.
And why are they called bearded tits,
cos it looks to me, from their markings,
-to be more of a moustache?
-It's just the old name for them -
They're not really a tit. They're a member of the reedling family.
-So they've got the wrong name all round, then?
Now, as we've heard, the slaughter of animals without stunning,
for religious reasons, is highly contentious.
But there are more controversial claims
about who this meat is being sold to.
Tom's film contains some distressing images.
Every year in the UK, it's estimated as many as 35 million animals
could be slaughtered without stunning for the Muslim and Jewish markets.
It's created an emotional debate that puts animal welfare
up against the right of religious freedom.
But this isn't just an issue about how the meat is prepared
for those religious communities.
The RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association
claim that a significant proportion of meat killed without pre-stunning
is being sold to people who aren't Muslim or Jewish,
without their knowledge.
So, should we be worried that people outside
the Muslim and Jewish communities
are eating meat from animals that are fully conscious
at the time of slaughter?
John Blackwell is President-Elect of the British Veterinary Association.
He believes it's clear from the statistics
that more non-stunned meat is being produced
than the Muslim and Jewish communities
can consume by themselves.
John, if I can just bounce a quote
from the British Veterinary Association off you. You say,
"It's clear that a significant proportion of sheep and goat meat
"from non-stunned slaughter is going outside the communities
"for which it was intended
"because of its convenience for the food sector,"
i.e., it's going to general market.
What facts and figures do you have to back that up?
I think, if you look at the amount of animals
that are non-stunned slaughtered on a weekly basis,
it's something like 4% of cattle, 10% of sheep
and 4% of poultry.
If you hang some numbers on those,
you're looking at 1,300-1,400 cattle a week,
30,000 sheep a week and about 640,000 poultry a week.
So then if you ramp that up into an annual figure,
I think it becomes quite clear that those amounts of animals
that are slaughtered non-stun
are supplying other than the market that they're intended to.
We've spoken to the Big Six supermarkets,
some of the restaurant chains, like Nando's and KFC,
and they say they don't do it.
I'm not suggesting that it's 50% or 60%,
but a portion of that meat
-is going into the general market.
-You're confident of that?
Absolutely. If it's not labelled,
and there's no legal requirement to label "non-stunned" or "stunned",
then how do we know which is which?
But the statistical argument is complicated
and very difficult to prove,
partly because only some Muslims eat non-stunned meat,
but also because they tend to eat more red meat
than the rest of the population.
However, there is reason to believe
that some Jewish kosher meat,
all of which is slaughtered when the animal is fully conscious,
is making its way into the general food chain.
Following Jewish teaching, rabbis in the UK have said
that only the forequarters of land animals can be considered kosher.
So that leaves the back end as forbidden,
and that's where many of the prime cuts are,
like the leg or loin on a sheep,
or the rump, sirloin and flank on a cow.
So while kosher meat as a whole makes up
less than 0.5 % of all the meat produced in the UK,
it seems likely that some of these choice cuts
are making their way into the mainstream.
The question is, what can be done to make things more transparent?
For some, there is a solution - labelling.
That would mean however the meat was killed,
we would all know what we're buying.
'There are currently no legal requirements to label meat
'either "stunned" or "un-stunned",
'but abattoir owner Rizvan Khalid,
'who we met earlier, wants greater transparency,
'and believes all religiously slaughtered meat
'should be labelled.'
They're all for export, these?
'He is part of a sheep industry consultation,
'which could lead to the introduction of widespread halal labelling
'on a voluntary basis.'
What do you think of the idea of labelling meat so people know
whether it's stunned or non-stunned?
As a general principle, it's good for consumers
to have the information they need to make a choice.
The vast majority of halal slaughter is stunned anyway.
It'll give people that assurance that it's gone through
with either the halal stunned mark
or a red tractor mark or something similar,
so they'll know that it's been stunned.
Certainly the labelling of non-stunned meat
could go some way to satisfying the organisations
that have concerns over welfare,
like the British Veterinary Association and the RSPCA.
But others don't see why halal and kosher meat
should be singled out.
Shimon Cohen is from the Jewish campaign group Shechita UK.
He thinks if non-stunned meat is to be labelled,
then all meat packaging should make clear
how the animals were slaughtered.
We believe that labelling is hugely important,
to give customers information.
We believe that the British people - in fact, European people -
should be aware whether their meat was gassed.
They should be aware whether their chickens were electrocuted.
They should be aware whether their cows were shot,
possibly even how many times the cow was shot
with a captive bolt before the stun took.
And yes, indeed, we believe that things should be labelled "kosher"
so that the Jewish people know exactly where to buy their product.
So what you're saying is, if you put "stunned" on it,
you'd have to put all these other things on it
-that you believe are relevant to the welfare of the animal?
The consumer must have the right to know. It seems incongruous
to presuppose that you have the right to know how I killed my meat,
but I don't have the right to know how you killed yours.
The arguments I've heard go to the heart of the debate
about transparency on the journey from farm to fork.
The government say consumers should be able to make an informed choice
but are waiting for results from a European survey,
expected to be published soon,
before deciding on labelling.
But objective decisions are always going to be difficult
when you try to balance welfare against the right
of people to follow their religious convictions.
The majority of meat slaughtered under religious guidance
is stunned, but a growing percentage isn't.
The question for the authorities and for people
who care about animal welfare is,
do we have the right to know the difference,
and how on earth do we fit all the relevant information
on a single pack?
We heard earlier how climate change killed off most of Scotland's trees
about 4,000 years ago. After that,
man cut down almost all of those that remained for fuel and timber.
But look around Perthshire today, and trees dominate the landscape.
If Perthshire is big tree country,
then this part of it, Dunkeld,
is REALLY big tree country.
This whopping great Douglas fir
has a bigger girth than any other in Britain,
and it's pretty tall as well.
Perthshire also has Britain's tallest sitka spruce,
its tallest Japanese larch,
its widest conifer, its tallest hedge,
and this was its tallest Colorado silver fir
until it fell down. So how did Perthshire go
from no trees to big trees?
The secret is things like this.
This is a sugar pine cone,
and it comes all the way from California.
In the 18th century,
early stirrings of the Industrial Revolution
and a rapidly increasing population
led the drive to make more land productive.
One way to do that was to plant trees.
But it wasn't just native trees that they were planting.
Young men were sent to far-flung corners of the planet
to try and find trees that would thrive
in Scottish conditions.
One of those men had that tree named after him.
He was David Douglas, and that big boy there
is a Douglas fir.
Douglas was a young Perthshire gardener
sent by the Royal Horticultural Society
to the new uncharted frontier in the Pacific Northwest of America,
to collect the seeds of potentially useful plants and send them home.
Syd House from the Forestry Commission
has written a book about Douglas.
Syd, it must have been an enormous undertaking
to head off to the other side of the world,
-a pretty much unknown journey, to collect these seeds?
Well, yes. The average life expectancy of a plant hunter
-was one year...
-..because it was such a dangerous thing.
You were often accompanying the very first Europeans
to explore these areas.
He managed to bring back the seeds from these incredible trees
which are towering above us.
How on earth did he get to the seeds?
The seed on these trees is right, right at the top.
And also, in that part of the world, you have a huge number
of squirrels and other rodents that eat lots of seed.
So, unlike here, where you can often pick up
-a cone like this...
Once it warms up in the spring, you'll find
that opens, and the seed comes out.
In that part of the world, the seed generally opens,
the cone generally opens on the tree,
and the seed falls down and disperses.
Sometimes he'd find a stash that maybe a squirrel had made.
One of the other ways he did it was to get a shotgun,
which he always carried with him,
-and just shoot down branches from the top of the tree.
And the branches held the cones, with the seed still intact,
and he would extract the seed.
He must have been a good shot.
-That's pretty impressive.
What about his legacy? You mentioned other plants.
How substantial is his legacy?
Well, he brought back seeds from 800 different species,
of which 240-odd were new to the British Isles.
Were there any surprises that we assume are native British plants
-that he brought back?
-Quite a lot.
If you walk round any suburban garden,
you'll find David Douglas introductions all over the place.
Lupins, or the flowering currant, or mahonia.
These are absolutely typical spring shrubs,
and they're Douglas introductions and they're common
to any suburban garden or, indeed,
very often many municipal planting schemes
-round about our towns and cities.
So, little did we know, his legacy goes on in our gardens today.
That legacy can be seen in the grounds
of some of our great country houses,
like this one which belong to the Dukes of Atholl,
where some of the original trees still survive.
And this is one of them.
It's the sole survivor of a group of larches from the Austrian Alps,
planted nearly 200 years ago.
But its millions of descendents can be seen
in the larch plantations that cover the hills all around here.
Two centuries on,
modern-day plant hunters are following in the footsteps
of those pioneers. The iCONic Project aims to help save
some of the world's rarest and most remarkable trees
by growing them in safe havens here in Perthshire,
sometimes in the same spots used by the Dukes of Atholl
all those years ago.
I'm now going to make my mark on history by planting
one of those threatened tree species.
It doesn't look very big yet, but it will be. This is a giant redwood.
Thankfully, I've got a bit of expert help to plant it.
Tom Christian is a modern-day plant hunter,
working for the iCONic Project.
-How are you doing, Tom?
-Good, thank you.
Good, very good. It's really protected, isn't it, in here?
-It is. It has to be.
All sorts of reasons - people, deer,
tractors, cars, you name it.
So you're going to shower it with love, then, this one?
-I like the sound of that. Is that deep enough?
-Let's just put the pot in and see.
-Let's have a lookie, there.
That's about right, because there's a bit of a gap here.
-Oh, there is.
-We should be OK.
So tell me a bit about this plant... or tree.
This is a giant redwood grown from seed collected
by some colleagues of ours in California in 2011.
So it was a seedling at the beginning of 2012,
so this is just two years old, so really fast-growing.
And this is part of a series of plantings we're doing all over
Perthshire, and we are hoping that in 150 years' time,
it will look a bit like that one there.
Wow! It's quite mind-blowing -
that sends your brain a bit screwy for a while, doesn't it?
It's worth touching on here that the general sort
of sentiment in conservation is that one doesn't bring
non-natives to other countries.
How does that work out in that context?
Well, there are two approaches to conservation - there is
in-situ conservation, conserving something where it belongs,
like the giant redwood in California.
And there is ex-situ conservation, which is
taking something out of its native range and conserving it elsewhere.
And because of all the various threats
to species across the planet, it is becoming increasingly
necessary to combine those two approaches and have a safety net.
It is really hard to imagine that something
so small that was planted here today by our hands is going to turn
into this beautiful giant redwood behind us.
And I'm obviously not going to be around to see that,
and neither are my children. Maybe my grandchildren.
I'd like to think they would do,
but even if THEY don't come along and see it,
I'd like to think that someone could walk past this and think well of us
for taking the time to put it in the ground in the first place.
JOHN: Early signs of spring are welcome ones.
The sight of seasonal newborns gladdens even the hardest heart.
They might be cute,
but Adam's new arrivals are certainly keeping him on his toes.
This shed is at the heart of the farm at the moment,
because we are in the middle of lambing and kidding.
This is a little goat kid. How cute is that?
This one is super friendly and quite noisy.
Sheep and goats are unlike most farm animals,
in that they are seasonal, so they give birth in the spring
when the weather is warming up and the grass is starting to grow.
We lamb them indoors for convenience, so we can keep
a close eye on them and so they are in the warm and the dry.
When we come into the shed, what we do is scan our eye
over the flock to see if there are any signs of anything giving birth.
What you are looking for is a sheep that is restless.
Quite often, they'll move to the corner,
they'll lie down and stand up and go round and round in circles.
They might be licking their lips in anticipation of licking
the newborn lamb, before they lie down and go into labour.
I've just come into the shed now. Just looking across them
quickly, there's nothing obviously restless or about to give birth.
There's a few jobs to do, but first of all,
I'm just going to feed them.
Come on, girls.
So this is an 18% ewe nut.
It's full of all the essential vitamins
and minerals they need, and we put a few beans in with it as well.
It is really important that ewes get the right nutrition now
to grow the lambs inside them and produce plenty of milk as well.
I now just feed the individual pens.
We feed them on these bucket lids, so that they can
find their breakfast and we know they've eaten it.
Here you go, missus.
'These sheds need manning 24/7,
'so we employ extra staff at this time of year.'
-Got a new one there?
-Are you just popping it in the pens, are you?
-OK, I'll do the gates for you.
-OK, thank you.
'Rebecca Mann is an agricultural student
'who's helping out during this busy period.'
-So what do you want - iodine first?
So Rebecca holds it by its two front feet. That doesn't hurt it at all.
She's just putting iodine on its navel to stop any infection.
The umbilical cord is attached to the mother to get all its oxygen
and food while it's inside her womb. That breaks naturally at birth.
Then a bit of medicine that goes into its stomach to stop it getting
any tummy bugs. And now Becca's just checking the ewe's udder.
They need lots of colostrum, the first milk that a ewe produces.
The lamb needs to get plenty of that in the first few hours of life.
-Has she got some there?
-Yes. She's got plenty.
-So have you always wanted to be a farmer?
-Yep. I love the lifestyle.
-You're your own boss.
-And what about the late nights?
Because obviously...lambing, up in the middle of the night...?
It's only for a short time, so...
You get to see things like this, so it's good.
For farmers like us, it's great having students who can come
and help, but also it's a great learning place for them
to get the experience when they go out into the workplace.
Everybody wants young people coming into farming,
but you need some experience behind you.
It's great to have Rebecca - she's very good. Nice one.
-OK, I'll leave you to it.
This nanny goat has given birth without me even noticing.
I was in the other shed.
And they generally get on with birthing very happily by themselves.
She's popped out two lovely little kids.
And they're both females.
She's quite a pale Golden Guernsey.
The kids are more like their dad, who's that dark golden colour.
She's mothering them very well.
They're born wet and sloppy because of all the birth waters,
and she's now licking them dry
and encouraging them to get to their feet.
She's a lovely mum. I'll just leave her to it for the time being.
While the lambs and kids are in need of our full-time
attention at the moment, the pigs are less demanding.
These are my lovely Tamworths. This is the boar.
I'll let them out for a bit
of fresh air, get them into the sunshine so you can see them.
Here we are. Have some breakfast.
They're really lovely pigs.
We've had them on the farm since the 1970s, but back then,
they were in very low numbers in the country. Down to just 17 boars.
And previously, we'd exported them all over
the world, to Canada and Australia,
and when my dad was out in Australia,
he made some enquiries for the Rare Breeds Survival Trust
and ended up importing two boars back to this country
to freshen up the bloodlines and get them breeding again.
And since then, more have been imported
and now they're doing a lot better.
And Dad has always been very proud of his Tamworths.
It's a good job he did rescue them, as they proved to be very useful.
In 1973, my dad, Joe, crossbred them to produce a new type of pig,
the Iron Age, that made a special appearance on the BBC's
Animal Magic with Johnny Morris.
-Now, they are rather special, aren't they?
Well, they are. She is descended from an original cross that
I made between a wild boar from London Zoo and a Tamworth sow.
And in the four or five generations since,
I've been selecting for a pig that looks like a wild boar
but is domesticated and tame and that we can handle.
-She seems to be a very amenable mother.
-Yes, she is.
But if we picked up one of those piglets and it screamed,
we'd have to make a quick exit.
I've carried on breeding them on the farm, and like my dad said,
they're very good mothers.
I need to load these up now to turn them out into the field.
This sow has had seven piglets.
But if you catch a piglet while the sow is in there,
she will attack you and bite you, and they've got very sharp teeth.
I had a big boar on the farm once that attacked a bull.
Extraordinary to see a bull and a boar fighting.
So what I'm going to do is try and load the sow away
from her piglets into the trailer, get her secure, then go
and catch the piglets nice and safely
and put them in the back of the truck and take them up to the field.
Hey... Got her.
Ooh, little piggy!
Some of them are born stripy like the wild boar,
this camouflage colouring.
Shush, shush, shush!
You'll be back with your mummy soon.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.
There we go.
You can hear the sow grunting away in here, calling her piglets.
Wonderful maternal instinct she's got,
and she'll be reunited with them soon.
Thankfully, we've got them all loaded, and I haven't got bitten.
Right, let's get you unloaded.
Three little pigs.
There, there, there. Go on, go on, go on. They're in there.
There's a good girl.
The sow's gone straight in to see the piglets and is talking
to them and reassuring them that everything's OK.
And now she's come out,
and they're just venturing outside for the first time,
poking their little noses out of the hutch.
And as soon as they come out, it's noses down, investigating
with their little mouths, chewing on bits of mud,
just discovering what the great outdoors is all about.
And they're communicating all the time, her lovely low grunts
just encouraging them.
And when they get a little bit too far away,
like they are now, she'll give them a big grunt,
and they'll come running over to her and catch up and say,
"It's OK, Mum, we're here! We're here!"
While the piglets settle into their new home, for another
of my animals, things haven't turned out quite how I'd hoped.
This is Eric, my lovely Highland bull
that I bought a couple of years ago up in Oban.
And I would have kept him on the farm for about four or five years
to breed females from him, but sadly, he got
a couple of different diseases and had some trauma
to his reproductive area and is now infertile,
so he can't get the cows in calf, so he's got to go.
And in a commercial system, what you do is generally send him
for beef, that's what most farmers would do,
but because he's a bit of a nation's favourite,
and lots of Countryfile viewers have got to know him
and have been writing in, concerned about him,
I've decided to be a bit soft and retire him.
And my sister, who's got a field a half a dozen miles away,
has very kindly offered to keep him.
And I'll send him over there with a couple of steers,
a couple of beef animals to keep him company.
Then you can live out your days over there, can't you, mate?
He loves to have a back scratch.
Ooh, is that lovely?
And what I'm going to do now is go bull shopping and find
a replacement, hopefully as good,
if not better, than this lovely old boy.
I'm in Perthshire, right in the middle of Scotland.
It's a place of mountains and moors, lochs and glens,
forests and farms. With all these different habitats on offer,
the number of different species of wildlife here is astonishing.
And now there's one more.
It's an animal that hasn't been seen in the wilds of Scotland
for centuries. They can be a bit shy,
but I'm going to see what I can do to find one.
I'm looking for beavers.
'To the west of here in Argyll,
'beavers have been reintroduced
'in an official and closely monitored trial,
'but here in Tayside, that's not the case.
'Here, they really are running wild.
'Helen Dickinson is going to help me look for them.
'She's the project officer from the Tayside Beaver Study Group,
'which has been set up to find out what they are up to.'
So, Helen, middle of the day,
-not much chance of seeing beavers themselves.
-No, there's not.
Beavers are actually crepuscular, which means they are most active
at dawn and dusk,
so we're not going to be seeing them during the daylight.
But what are the signs that we're looking out for?
Well, it's looking for field signs,
and some of the most common of these are looking for cutting signs.
-So keep our eyes peeled along this bank here.
-Yes, that's it.
So how did they end up here, these wild-living beavers?
So the beavers in Tayside originate from animals that were
illegally released or escapees from private collections.
Mmm...impossible to find out where that was, then, isn't it?
Yeah, it would be tricky.
And how many do you think there are here on this loch?
We know here that there is a breeding pair and that they did produce
-two kits last year, so we have four beavers here.
-At least four.
See any signs of gnawing?
There are some just here, aren't there?
These trees that have come down?
Yes, that is, yes, that's certainly beaver evidence.
So beavers are actually taking the smaller trees
and branches that they actually cut down and used for feeding,
and it's the larger size they'll use in construction,
but they can actually cut trees up to as large as over a metre in diameter.
-Wow, that's impressive.
'The wild beavers here first came to the attention
'of organisations like Scottish Natural Heritage in 2006.
'The Tayside Beaver Study Group is now looking at how many
'there are and what they're doing.
'Because they don't know where these beavers have come from,
'they're checking their genetics and seeing
'if they're carrying any non-native diseases.
'And they're monitoring the impact they're having on the environment.
'They don't eat fish, as many people think, but they do fell trees
'and build dams to extend the watery habitat they love...
'activities that could be of concern to landowners.
'These dams are on the Atholl estate,
'whose woodland is managed by Andrew Barbour.'
How are you doing, Andrew?
-Very well, thank you.
So from a landowner's and somebody who manages land's point of view,
what are the worries with having beavers?
Well, you can see that beavers have a significant impact on their local
environment, that's what they are doing, they're flooding areas.
There's maybe about an acre of land here
that has really had its water table significantly altered.
It's much, much wetter.
So folks like me who are managing ground like this are going to be
worried about impact on drainage, is the obvious one, particularly
if it's an agricultural field and you're trying to grow a crop,
that's going to be a problem.
There will be people concerned about the impact on the fish
If this is a spawning burn for trout, and in some situations,
that's going to be a major concern for those who are managing fisheries.
A lot of the trees here seem to be doing OK
in spite of the fact it's a flooded area. Why is that?
This is principally birch and willow that has been grown here.
Now, for willow, they LIKE this wet habitat,
they're not going to worry and suffer too much.
But for birch, for instance, particularly the silver birch,
it will find it's too wet now.
The beavers have only been here about a year, a year and a half,
and in a year or two's time,
I would expect to start to see some of these trees suffering.
'It's amazing that one small family of beavers can do all that.'
This is the lodge where they live,
and because it's the middle of the day, the adults
and the kits will be tucked up inside there now, fast asleep.
'Not everyone is worried about the spread of beavers.
'Bob Smith loves them
'and is a member of the Tayside Wild Beaver Group.'
-Quite insulated in there.
-Very much so.
They have two chambers in there - a feeding chamber,
which will be the bottom chamber, and a higher chamber,
the sleeping chamber. And that itself will be a lot warmer.
These things don't lose a lot of heat.
Apparently, in the winter, in Canada,
-you can actually see steam coming off them.
So talk me through,
what are the advantages of having beavers in a landscape?
The advantage is huge. You can see straightaway
they're starting to coppice the trees roundabout.
It starts to open up the canopy,
which in turn is going to bring you
more insects, then invertebrates and so on.
Your fish will feed on that,
your insects will feed on the smaller invertebrates.
Then you have got your amphibians, your birdlife and so on.
And everything is just built around this one particular small animal,
which, when you think about it, is absolutely incredible.
Man has tried to do it and just failed miserably.
These little guys are just awesome, that's all you can say.
What about from an engineering point of view?
How do they change the hydrology of an area?
Obviously, if they dam, it slows down the water,
so the flooding is not as quick straight
downstream as it would be, down normal ditches and so on.
It also acts as a big sponge, so it's a slower release,
it holds back sediment, pollutants, so you have these benefits
that are actually coming from the beaver, or what they're providing
in this fantastic piece of engineering, as you say.
'The Perthshire beavers have really presented Scotland
'with a knotty problem.
'No-one knows what their long-term impact will be,
'but the monitoring project here should at least provide some answers
'so that informed decisions about their future can be made.'
I still haven't seen any beavers today,
but that is because it's daylight.
But earlier on in the week, we set up some camera traps.
Right, let's see if we've got anything.
Here we go.
Oh, my goodness! We've got them!
There's definitely a larger adult at the front
and maybe even a kit at the back.
Oh, my goodness!
I still remember the first time I ever saw one in this country,
and my jaw just fell.
They just look so alien and yet, of course, they are originally native.
Well, that is it from Perthshire this week.
Next week, the programme will be in Somerset,
where I'll be looking at the county's changing landscape,
and Matt will be with livestock farmers
affected by all the flooding.
Hope you can join us then. Bye-bye.
Countryfile heads north of the border to find out how Perthshire has earned its reputation as big tree country. Ellie Harrison meets the scientists travelling the globe to bring endangered conifer species back to Scotland and also discovers what impact nature's own lumberjack, the beaver, is having on the countryside.
Perthshire's vast reed beds provide roofing material for thatchers and are also an important habitat for birds. John Craven lends a hand with the harvest.
Selling meat from animals slaughtered according to religious law is a controversial topic in the UK. Now there are fresh calls for both halal and kosher meat to be labelled in the supermarket, especially if the animals were killed without being stunned first. But do we really need to put more stickers on our food? Tom Heap investigates.
Meanwhile Adam Henson has his hands full as the new arrivals come thick and fast down on the farm.