Shropshire Star

Countryfile host heads to Oswestry to explain how we can be smart about our land

A TV presenter who has spent 25 years reporting on the science and environment is to give a talk in Oswestry this week as he launches a new book.

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Tom Heap, a presenter on BBC TV's Countryfile as well as Radio 4's new Rare Earth series and the anchor of The Climate Show on Sky News, has been touring the British countryside meeting the farmers, scientists, conservationists and even warehouse managers who are solving the most pressing challenges facing our countryside and the world.

This week, he is to give a talk at Booka bookshop in Oswestry to coincide with the launch of his new book 'Land Smart'.

Mr Heap told the Shropshire Star: “The book is really about how we use our land cleverly in an era where land is used for other things such as storing carbon, space for nature, energy, water storage for times of flooding, recreation et cetera.

“We only have one planet and we need to use it in a way that allows nature to thrive.”

He says from talking to dozens of landowners, farmers and even energy producers, his book explains how various methods are being tried to make better use of our land.

“Re-generative farming is something you hear a lot about, for instance,” he said. “I'm careful about the idea that we can convert our farming entirely for nature and produce less food and import overseas.

“We have to be careful in what changes we make. There is no point in having glorious spaces here if we destroy the savannahs of Africa or the tropical rainforests elsewhere.

“I admire the principle of re-generative farming but we have to respect yield. The smartest farmers are still producing decent harvests while providing a home wildlife yet are having big years.

“We need to be smart about it and there is no simple, single solution.”

He added that he also believes that some approaches such as using land for bio fuels are counter-productive.

“Using land for crops to burn such as bio fuels is something I am really down on. It is an inefficient use of land. If you want to make energy from land, put a solar panel on it. That may be controversial but you get at least 50 times the energy from land than any crop. Overseas, because of our demand, we are killing orangutans for diesel.

He said his book is not just for farmers but all those people interested in how we use our land.

“It is about what we can do in our own gardens, in our own towns, farms, but I've also talked to scientists, solar manufacturers, and also people about what we can change in our diet to help with land use.

“Although, while eating less meat, wasting less and eating less may help but people don't change behaviour that easily, so the answer is not to say everyone should be vegan as that is not going to happen.”

You can see Tom Heap at Booka bookshop at 26-28 Church Street, Oswestry on Thursday, July 11 at 7.30pm (doors 7pm).

For tickets, which cost £12, and more information visit: bookabookshop.co.uk/events/an-evening-with-tom-heap-land-smart/.