Easter Sunday’s episode of BBC One’s Countryfile came from Panshanger Park, showcasing the abundance of wildlife and the fantastic habitats that have resulted from the restoration work and successful land management at the park.
Presenter Matt Baker discussed the restoration work with Tarmac’s Estates Manager, Michael Charlton, looking at some of the habitats created through careful management of the park, including five lakes and a new stretch of rare chalk river. Volunteer Robin Cole then showed Matt how he checks the river every month for key species, such as stonefly and mayfly, whose presence happily signify a lack of pollution in the water.
Next, Tom Williams, Managing Director of the park’s recently-appointed management company, Maydencroft, introduced presenter Sean Fletcher to a herd of English Longhorn cattle who will be grazing land at Panshanger Park in line with Humphry Repton’s original vision. Murray Brown, Assistant Park Ranger, prepared the barn for the Longhorns, as the programme showed them being brought into the park for the very first time. They will stay in the barn until their calves are born, before going out to graze the parkland.
Finally, Matt Baker and Tim Hill, Conservation Manager at Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, visited some of the park’s 800 veteran trees, including a beautiful sweet chestnut and the famous Panshanger Great Oak, the country’s tallest single-stemmed oak which is thought to be around 500 years old. Tim described how the trees become nature reserves themselves, supporting a wide variety of wildlife as they mature. Scenes then showed local volunteers helping to gradually clear the land round the Great Oak to give it space to thrive and, as Matt said, “to help show it off in all its glory."
Michael Charlton, Mineral Estates Manager at Tarmac, said: “We’re really very proud of what the restoration work completed at Panshanger Park has achieved and we are constantly delighted by the abundance of wildlife it attracts. We were thrilled to see the important work we do in partnership with the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and our park managers Maydencroft - and of course our invaluable dedicated team of local volunteers - being showcased on Countryfile."
The episode can be viewed here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0004j1c/countryfile-herts-bucks.