Remarkable record of UK landscapes

Wednesday 24th April 2013

Mike on tour cpt Mike McFarlaneMike on tour cpt Mike McFarlane

A unique panoramic record of landscapes in the UK has been produced by award-winning photographer Mike McFarlane, cycling 5,903 miles around four countries to promote nature conservation.

The collection of 92 panoramic 360° virtual tours of Living Landscape schemes established by The Wildlife Trusts all over the UK will help to raise awareness of their landscape-scale work, using interactive features to bring these places to life on screen.

Chris Packham, passionate conservationist, photographer and The Wildlife Trusts’ Vice President, said:

“Mike’s amazing spins allow you to imagine lying in the middle of a hay meadow or by the sea looking at the sky and views in every direction while listening to birds chirping or the swoosh of the waves – what a fabulous achievement!”

Mike’s panoramic views and virtual tours will help people to visualise the places where we are working and the scale and scope of Living Landscape schemes

The virtual tours  - - take in a wide range of landscapes from the rugged uplands of north-west Scotland to the floodplain meadows of the Home Counties and the rocky shorelines of the Isles of Scilly and Alderney.

Interactive features allow people to find out more about the work The Wildlife Trusts are doing in each location, with a particular focus on how they are working with partners to restore the natural environment.

The aim of Living Landscapes is to restore, recreate and reconnect areas of habitat by developing natural corridors.  Larger areas for nature allow wildlife to spread to new places and not be left vulnerable in isolated locations.  The Wildlife Trusts are working with farmers, businesses and local communities to implement conservation measures across larger areas of land.

Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape, said:

“We have been focusing our efforts on landscape-scale conservation schemes in partnership with others for several years. Mike’s panoramic views and virtual tours will help people to visualise the places where we are working and the scale and scope of Living Landscape schemes.”

The photographic project, funded by the Tubney Charitable Trust and Aggregate Industries, took a year to complete, with Mike travelling mainly on a folding bike and using public transport to minimise his carbon footprint.  On most nights he ‘wild camped’, towing his own tent and supplies on a trailer weighing up to 40 kilos.

“This was an amazing job and for such a great organisation, very much up my street in terms of what I want to put back into society,” said Mike, 39. “I like to do something that’s good for society, or good for the landscape, good for nature, so this project was really attractive.”

During his year-long series of tours Mike experienced heat exhaustion, dehydration, insect infestation, freezing conditions and loneliness – but he also took more than 12,000 photographs and refuses to dwell on the hardships when the results were so fulfilling and worthwhile:

“All I can say is that it was like a musician when they come to the end of a tour or finish producing an album.  It's a complete creative exhaustion because I did put everything into making these photographs of these amazing landscapes and these amazing conservation efforts.

“Everybody I met who was involved in Living Landscape schemes just had so much passion, so much commitment to conservation.  If even a few more people feel inspired to start doing conservation work or if they show work like this in schools or in universities and young people get some hope or interest or encouragement out of it, that would be great.”

Notes for editors:

Mike McFarlane
Until his move to Moscow, Mike specialised in landscape photography, architecture and 360° virtual reality tours.  He was named Environmental Photographer of the Year in the 2007 Landscape Photographer of the Year competition run by The Sunday Times/AA.  Previously a highly-qualified systems engineer, he gave this up in 2002 in order to follow his passion for composing inspiring images.  Mike’s keen eye for detail and need to convey his feel for the landscape make his photography captivating and unique.  He feels each photograph should educate and enthral the viewer.  A photograph of a landscape should not only be a ‘pretty picture’, it should stimulate the viewer to be more positive about the natural world, and perhaps even inspire them to want to protect it.  This is particularly true of the 360° virtual reality tours which offer the chance for true immersion in the subject of the photograph. The rich visual content is linked with audio, video and online content to make the experience of the photograph interactive.  Since moving to Russia, where his wife now works, Mike has resumed a long-latent interest in robotics.

Carbon footprint
Mike is committed to protecting the countryside and lowering his carbon emissions. He used a combination of a folding bicycle and public transport to get to almost all of his often remote photographic locations.  Mike’s Carbon Note: “Total carbon footprint if I had used a car = 3991kg CO2 estimated. Total carbon footprint by bike/train = 1239kg CO2 estimated.” CO2 figures from

Aggregate Industries
Aggregate Industries is a key corporate partner of The Wildlife Trusts, with both organisations working together since 2006 to achieve A Living Landscape throughout the UK.  It is with Aggregate Industries’ generous financial support that The Wildlife Trusts are able to communicate landscape-scale conservation through these high quality 360° panoramic images and virtual tours of 92 Living Landscape schemes.

Tagged with: Living Landscapes