wilderness LECTURES

Britain's Secret Islands

Stewart McPherson on 07/01/2015 19:30

Advance: ?8.00 Door: ?8.50 Concession: ?7.50: Season ?88.00

Powell Theatre
Stewart McPherson


Fascinated with wildlife from an early age, Stewart spent 6 months undertaking research in South America and Southeast Asia as a teenager, and wrote his first two wildlife books whilst at university. On graduating, he began an 8 year project to write a series of 25 books systematically covering each group of the world?s 700 species of carnivorous plants, many of which had never been documented before. Stewart resolved to study and photograph each extraordinary species in its natural habitat, and so climbed 200 mountains across the world, spent more than two and a half years in the field, explored about fifty previously unvisited mountains, and discovered and named forty new species, varieties and forms, including two of the largest pitcher plants ever found that trap animals as large as rodents (one of which he named Nepenthes attenboroughii after his hero, Sir David Attenborough).

After featuring in documentaries for the BBC and SkyVision, Stewart began an ambitious project to undertake the first journey in history to all 14 UK Overseas Territories to film and document the unique wildlife and conservation stories of these little-known British islands scattered across the seven seas. Over the last 3 years, Stewart and camera-team have travelled 70,000 km across the globe to visit many of the most remote inhabited islands on earth, travelling on RAF flights, the last working Royal Mail postal ship, ice-breakers, trawlers, freight ships and private charter yachts to complete a 4 part documentary series and accompanying natural history book chronicling the UK?s extraordinary overseas wildlife and heritage for the very first time, to show an amazing side of UK wildlife that few in mainland Britain know exist.


Longboat to Pitcairn (c) S McPherson


The fourteen UK Overseas Territories are Britain?s secret wildlife treasure-troves. From remote desert islands to Antarctic wastelands, tropical ocean volcanoes to distant coral reefs and atolls, the territories collectively comprise an area seven times the size of the British Isles and have twenty times the biodiversity of mainland Britain. They are connected to many of the most important characters in British history (Charles Darwin, Ernest Shackleton, William Bligh), and are home to over a quarter of a million British people? Yet few in mainland Britain know that they exist or are connected to our country. Up to now, no one in history has ever visited all fourteen territories, or filmed the extraordinary wildlife that they harbour.

Scattered across the seven seas, the territories are the remnants of the British Empire, but they are often misunderstood today. They are the exact opposite of colonies ? mostly self-governing states that democratically chose to remain under British sovereignty instead of independence. They are globally important wildlife centres home to thousands of unique species, as well as many of the world?s largest populations of penguins, seals, albatrosses, sea turtles, tropical sea birds and land crabs. But the territories and their unique wildlife are lands under critical threat ? exploding volcanoes, devastating hurricanes, declining rainforests, rising coral seas, melting Antarctic ice, retreating glaciers and invasive exotic ?alien? species are issues not normally associated with protecting British environments; but across the territories, fighting these and other challenges is a race against time.

In this lecture, Stewart McPherson recounts his travels over the last three years to visit all of the UK Overseas Territories to film their extraordinary wildlife and conservation stories to complete a 4 part wildlife documentary series and accompanying book. Through this account, we discover Britain?s greatest natural history heritage, and hear Stewart?s personal experiences traveling to many of the most remote inhabited islands on earth, and filming some of the greatest concentrations of wildlife found anywhere on earth.

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