WildEast nature movement set for prime-time fame on BBC Countryfile show

The WildEast movement will feature on BBC One's Countryfile show on Sunday, August 23. Pictured (fro

The WildEast movement will feature on BBC One's Countryfile show on Sunday, August 23. Pictured (from left) are trustees Ollie Birkbeck, Hugh Somerleyton and Argus Hardy. Picture: Mark Cator - Credit: Mark Cator/UtterBooks Mark

An ambitious conservation movement aiming to turn East Anglia into one of the world’s greatest nature reserves is set for prime-time exposure on the BBC’s Countryfile programme this weekend.

Presenters Matt Baker and Margherita Taylor visited the Somerleyton Estate near Lowestoft to find out about WildEast, which aims to return 20pc of the region back to the wild by encouraging everyone from landowners and farmers to schools, churches and gardeners by pledging 20pc of their landscape to nature.

Estate owner Hugh Somerleyton, one of the founding trustees of WildEast, said the team has been inundated with pledges and messages of support since the project launched in June – and he expects more will follow after the appearance on the BBC’s flagship rural affairs show.

He said: “We all feel incredibly lucky and particularly pleased that Countryfile wanted to cover this at all, but also wanted to get under the skin of an area they don’t usually go down, which is this vexing issue of whether we want a nature-rich world, in which case there are compromises ahead, or do we want to be a single species living on earth having wiped everything else out.

READ MORE: Should wild predators like the lynx be released in our countryside?“I was really surprised for the appetite for that type of discussion on such a big programme. I think there were 9m people watching it the other week so, although they are not all going to be in the WildEast, we very much hope that it inspires and encourages other people to get in touch and most of all to be inspired to pledge, because that is what the central message is.”

• WildEast will feature on Countryfile on BBC One at 7pm on Sunday, August 23.