The decline of nature and the rise of nature books

Since 1970 UK wildlife has declined by an alarming 20%.

Nearly 1 in 6 species are now threatened with extinction. While the state of nature has been a tale of decline, books about nature have seen the reverse in fortune. Where they used to occupy a single shelf within the Science & Nature section, in the thirty years we have been in bookselling that shelf has grown to a whole bookshelf and recently even entire bookshops!

Hopefully this is an indication of increased concern. A realisation that this decline in nature needs to be addressed and reversed.

Groundbreakers, Chantal LyonCo-existing

There are plenty of excellent books to fill those shelves. Just out is Groundbreakers, Chantal Lyon’s thoughtful enquiry as to how we can co-exist with recently re-introduced wild boar to the benefit of us and nature.

Another species long in decline and making a comeback is the grey partridge. A bird species devastated by intensive farming. In The Return of the Grey Partridge Roger Morgan-Grenville shows how regenerative farming can work. In partnership with nature to restore not only birdlife but the whole ecosystem.

The Return of the Grey PartridgeSpring is coming

And with spring around the corner, we welcome a reprint of Roger Philip’s magnificent Wild Flowers. Due out in April, this really is a fantastic reference for becoming familiar with our native flora. Whilst out walking and admiring the wild flora in our hedgerows and woods consider that 92% of England (and a whopping 97% of its rivers) are off limits to the public. In Wild Service Nick Hayes introduces us to the new nature defenders and pioneers of the Right to Roam campaign. In May 2022, the Royal Swedish Academy of Science released a paper that measured fourteen European countries on three factors: biodiversity, wellbeing, and nature connectedness. Britain came last in every single category. The findings are clear: we are suffering – and nature is too.

Authors such as Guy Shrubsole and Amy-Jane Beer argue that our loss and nature’s need are two sides of the same story.

Bad wolf?

Wild Service Nick HayesFinally, Derek Gow is best known for reintroducing beavers to the British Isles. However, wolves are his passion and he has been beavering away (sorry) on his book Hunt for the Shadow Wolf for years. It’s finally ready, and with a rather splendid jacket too. Long despised and feared, the adversary of the ‘good’ shepherd, the wolf has been persecuted for millennium and has been extinct in Britain for centuries. Gow argues that we have made a ‘devil’ of this animal without understanding it’s true nature and its vital role in ecosystems.

It will be a tough job changing opinions embedded for centuries, but if anyone can do it, Derek Gow can.

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