photo of Scottish moorland and mountains

Space for nature
The UK in 100 seconds

A completely transparent image, used as a utility to enable certain effects while allowing the colours underneath to show through

I don’t think anyone really has a clue what Britain actually looks like.

It's just too big and complicated for us to get a proper sense of proportion.

And that’s a problem when people are making decisions about how we feed ourselves or how much more affordable housing we can build. Or, crucially, how much more space for nature we can have.

If we don’t have a proper sense of what the country looks like then how can we fix our problems?

– Dan Raven-Ellison, guerrilla geographer, National Geographic Explorer, filmmaker.

I had a simple idea

To go on a walk and make a short film that shows the United Kingdom in the correct proportions.

Every 1 second of the film represents what 1% of the UK looks like from the air.

Watch "The UK in 100 seconds", narrated by Benjamin Zephaniah.

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A completely transparent image, used as a utility to enable certain effects while allowing the colours underneath to show through

It was important to me that we filmed from the air. You’re getting this bird’s eye view – you’re flying. And you can start to see in new ways.

From above you start to see the landscape differently

You start to think about things differently.

You start to see how hard it is to find any parts of this country where people haven’t had some kind of imprint on the landscape.

We live in such a beautiful country.

One of the most memorable things for me is just how quickly it changes from pastures to hills to mountains.

Then going down to the Welsh borders with those rolling hills and woodland; and being able to trek around in the New Forest in ancient deciduous woods.

One of the most shocking things, going through literally hundreds of miles of crops, was realising that half of all the cereal crops you see in the countryside are fed to livestock.

What else could we do with that land?

One in 7 species in the UK is at risk of extinction.

Could we create more space for wildlife?

Of course we can.

A completely transparent image, used as a utility to enable certain effects while allowing the colours underneath to show through

This project has thrown up a big question for me

How can we re-balance things so that we have radically more space for wildlife and for people?

But if people have a distorted picture of how we're using the land, how do we move forward?

So, whether it's how to feed the next generation, how we tackle the mass extinction of species, or how resilient we make ourselves to climate change – the first step is to see clearly what this country looks like now.

I hope this film ignites a conversation about what we want the United Kingdom to look like – and what we want it to be like.

Dan Raven-Ellison

Make our countryside safer for wildlife

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