BBC Radio 4 is broadcasting a landmark series to highlight the challenges, successes and failures of conservation around the world.
The 40-part series, Saving Species, produced in partnership with The Open University, will follow some of the world's rarest and most common species and explore what the future holds for them and the habitats and environments in which they live.
Saving Species will run in two parts – from April until July and from the end of August until February 2011 – and will bring audiences closer to species in the wild as well as the biologists who study them.
Listeners are invited to contribute to an online project called iSpot, which will enable them to upload images and ask questions about nature. The project can be accessed at www.ispot.org.uk and is run by The Open University.
“The idea is to get the audience close to the wildlife and to the people who are working with wildlife in the field,” says Dr Janet Sumner, who is the OU’s Broadcast and Learning Executive in Science and Technology. “Because it’s live, it’s something like a natural history version of news magazine programmes. But it’s more than just news, because it’s very much covering the science as well.”
Through the seasons of the year the series will follow the life histories of chosen species and report on how wildlife conservation works.
Mohit Bakaya, Specialist Factual Commissioning Editor for BBC Radio 4, said: "Following on from the success of World On The Move: Animal Migrations, I'm delighted that Saving Species will enable the audience to get a closer insight into the natural world and many of the issues surrounding wildlife conservation, both at home and throughout the world.
"This year is the United Nations designated Year of Biodiversity which provides added reason for this year-long, multi-media series from the Natural History Unit."
The season of programming, presented by Brett Westwood, will have a live studio based in Bristol and will work with collaborators in the UK and across the world to take listeners out to where the story is happening.
Saving Species follows on from Radio 4's World On The Move series, which followed animals around live as they set about their migrations.
Julian Hector, Editor of Saving Species, said: "The BBC Natural History Unit's wildlife film makers will be reporting from the Great Barrier Reef, Africa and North America bringing jellyfish, lions and black bears to our audiences."
But the global ambition is greater. He added: "We have other embedded collaborators which will bring us stories from East Asia, India and Europe, together with our own reporters bringing UK natural history to the radio – it will have a strong international feel but grounded at home. Saving Species will report on the great and the small, the well known and the totally new. We lead on koalas in Australia and how the microbes in you are linked to the natural world."
The series will include African elephants, purple emperor butterflies, reindeer, British seabirds, Australia's Barrier Reef, the South American rainforest, vultures, short-haired bumble bees and much more, together with weekly round-up of wildlife that is making the news.
Saving Species is a collaboration between BBC Radio 4, the BBC Natural History Unit and The Open University.