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St Cuthbert provided blueprint for nature conservation

30 June 2013 Last updated at 08:20 BST

St Cuthbert was one of the most revered saints of early Christianity, but few people know he was the world's first nature conservationist.

When he visited the Farnes around AD 675 in a period of solitude and reflection, St Cuthbert became interested in the sea birds which lived on and around the islands.

He also discovered local people liked to eat the eider ducks and their eggs.

As a result St Cuthbert introduced the world's first bird protection laws to protect the eider ducks and other sea birds nesting on the islands.

These are believed to be the earliest bird conservation laws in the world, dating centuries before the Sea Birds Preservation Act of 1869 and the Wild Birds Protection Act of 1880 in Victorian Britain.

We look at the importance of St Cuthbert's conservation work and its impact on wildlife protection today.

The Gospels - Good News 2013 is broadcast on Monday 1, July at 22:35 BST on BBC One North East and Cumbria and nationwide on the iPlayer thereafter.

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