Landward returns for its autumn run with presenters Dougie Vipond, Arlene Stuart, Euan McIlwraith and Anne Lundon travelling the length and breadth of the country to meet the people and discover the stories at the heart of the Scottish countryside.
Also re-joining theBBC Scotland programme is chef Nick Nairn, gathering the finest Scottish produce to prepare something special in the Landward food van. This time he parks up in Moffat, where his ingredients include air-dried jerky, Scottish-grown chillis and prime Galloway beef.
Throughout this season Landward will be covering all the issues that could transform our countryside, from Brexit to climate change, from re-wilding to the soon to be published Scottish Government review of grouse moors (Werritty Report), never before have rural affairs been so current in the political agenda.
This season Landward will be looking at the implications of change for farmers, fishermen and food producers in Scotland, assessing the threats but also seeking out the opportunities that may arise.
In episode one, Euan heads out from Tobermory on Mull into the Atlantic Ocean in search of the elusive basking shark, joining a team from the University of Exeter and Scottish Natural Heritage. The team hopes to learn more about the behaviour of these mysterious sharks, the second largest fish in the world but one about which little is known. Hoping to find basking sharks in the waters off Tiree, Euan and team will look at the campaign to have this part of Scotland’s coastal waters designated a Marine Protected Area (MPA).
Also in the first episode, Dougie asks if Scottish livestock farming can survive climate change. Against the background of the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and in the face of accusations that livestock production is environmentally damaging, he meets one industry leader who argues that the mixed Scottish farming economy is sustainable, responsible and the most effective use of our land.
Coming up in the rest of the series, Anne meets the farmers turning some of their fields into natural burial grounds, a surprising and surprisingly successful attempt at farm diversification; Arlene discovers the fruitful history of apple growing on Clydeside; Euan reveals the recent history of Scotland’s rural cave dwellers; and there will be a master class on how to shear an alpaca, an animal bigger, stronger and far more awkward to handle than any sheep.
Strands running through the autumn run will include a fact-finding mission by electric motorbike, as Dougie rides out to meet the innovators and inventors spear-heading Scotland’s green revolution, featuring eco-friendly building schemes and state of the art energy projects.
Landward also introduces Megan Rowland, one of Scotland’s youngest gamekeepers and land managers, working on the Gordonbush Estate in Sutherland. Over a series of features Megan, a former vegetarian with an enthusiastic love of the countryside, explains what her work involves, from deer stalking to peatland restoration.
It’s a job she loves and an industry she’s proud to be part of, but some Scottish estates are coming under fire. Conservationists are demanding radical change to management methods, and there are accusations of wildlife persecution and the illegal control of predators, including hen harriers, which are seen as a threat to grouse moors.
Against this background Dougie visits the National Trust for Scotland’s Mar Lodge Estate in the Cairngorms National Park. Here a programme monitoring the survival of hen harrier chicks affords him a unique opportunity to get up close to these aerial acrobats, Scotland’s ‘skydancers’.
Landward will be shown on Thursday, 19 September, on the BBC Scotland channel from 8-8.30pm, and then on Friday, 20 September, on BBC One Scotland from 7.30-8pm.