Twelve million people live in the British countryside. However, 36 million of the population want to join them. Britons, if not the government for all its championing of Britishness, are clearly in love with this country’s villages and landscapes. Future politicians would be wise to think hard before further trashing one of the nation’s much-loved icons.

COUNTRY LIFE magazine is aware that the countryside is changing at an alarming rate. In this week’s issue, they look at how these changes will affect you and propose a number of actions that must be taken to positively manage the countryside’s future.

We have the most man-made countryside on the planet. Without our ancestors, who cleared the forests, planted the hedges, built the stone walls and tended the copses and farmed the animals, it would look nothing like it does today.

Today, the British countryside is undergoing change at a faster and more profound rate than at any time since the Agricultural Revolution.

Before publishing this special number, Country Life commissioned a poll of 1,000 people across Britain to ask them whether they would rather live in a town, a city or the country. An astonishing 65% said they would rather live in the countryside. This and future governments must take note.

Read the stories in full: COUNTRY LIFE out on Thursday, 31 August 2006