Geography academic to feature on BBC4’s Oak Tree

Thursday, 01 October 2015

Oak-tree

An Oxford Brookes academic will feature in the BBC 4 programme, ’Oak Tree: Nature’s Greatest Survivor’ due to be aired at 9pm on Thursday 1 October on BBC 4.

The 90-minute programme sees presenter George McGavin embark on a year-long study of the oak tree and its sophisticated biology. He investigates how the tree has adapted to the ever-changing environment and discovers how it became an important part of British culture and history.

By looking in detail at the pollen grains, micro fossils and other features preserved in peat, we can see how the climate has warmed and cooled at different times, how humans have cleared woodland and planted food crops Dr Helen Walkington, Principal Lecturer in Geography, Oxford Brookes University

The programme’s study centres on a 400 year-old oak in Wytham Woods near Oxford and spans a year to chart the oak tree’s journey through the four seasons.

Dr Helen Walkington, Principal Lecturer in Geography at Oxford Brookes is called upon during the spring phase of the programme to explain how pollen can be used to understand the development of the landscape over the last 12,000 years. Dr Walkington said: “My research uses soils and sediment to explore changes in climate, vegetation and human impact in the past.

“By looking in detail at the pollen grains, micro fossils and other features preserved in peat, we can see how the climate has warmed and cooled at different times, how humans have cleared woodland and planted food crops, for example.

“Oxford Brookes students have been engaged in research on the peat core too as part of their geography degree.”

‘Oak Tree: Natures Greatest Survivor’ airs at 9pm on Thursday 1 October on BBC 4. The BBC trailer can be viewed below.

More information about the undergraduate geography course at Oxford Brookes University can be found on the Department of Social Sciences webpages. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3O9tFgqo-s[/embed]