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Wild Kingdom: Bringing Back Britain's Wildlife Paperback – 13 Apr 2017
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"Rich with examples of what can be done to help Britain’s wildlife thrive." (Matt Ridley The Times)
"Well-written, lively, lovingly detailed book." (Charlotte Heathcote Daily Express)
"A must-read for nature lovers." (Choice Magazine)
"A thoroughly good book and a very readable one… Well-researched and well-argued ammunition for our cause." (Rob Hume Birdwatch)
"A must-have." (Country Living)
A delightfully inquisitive quest into the state of British wildlife today - from the author of Birds Britannia and Tweet of the DaySee all Product description
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"This dazzling green is the colour of intensive farming" - Moss dispels the nationwide brain-washing that has occurred, whereby we tend to associate green with good; we have failed to identify that homogenised landscapes of varying monocultures are utterly adverse to an environment conducive to a thriving and diverse wildlife population, and in doing so condemned much of the county's native species. The fauna and flora of these islands are more impoverished than they ever have been and the culprit, for the most part, is increasing agricultural intensification.
"The countryside is being exploited by self-appointed, minority-interest pressure groups whose claims to be the guardians of the countryside would be amusing, were the consequences not so serious." - this particularly rings true when reflecting on the plight of a native raptor, the Hen Harrier, a legally protected species that is regularly being shot, trapped and poisoned to protect the sporting and economic interests of a small minority of people.
This is one of many issues Moss attacks and dismantles: the illusion that our 'countryside custodians' - I.e the Countryside Alliance and the NFU - have any interest whatsoever in preserving and protecting British wildlife. He also addresses 2015's absurd 'gullgate', but despite how it may seem, Wild Kingdom is not all doom and gloom. There is praise for the successful reintroduction of staple native species such as the Otter and the Red Kite; a reason for optimism and a strong indication that wildlife can thrive in these islands when given the chance to do so.
Ultimately, the book ends on a bittersweet note; there are mammoth tasks ahead, namely the implied restructuring of a broken and corrupt farming system marred by obscene taxpayer handouts (a system Moss aptly describes as a 'dependency culture') and the reshaping of public perception on a topic that does instils pride in the hearts of millions - the countryside, nature - but it is possible, as has been shown.
"Whether we live in the heart of a city or the remotest corner of our countryside, we all need wildlife to sustain and enrich our lives. For if we lose touch with nature, we will eventually lose touch with who we are". Hear, hear. Wild Kingdom is an indisputable must-read for those with an vested interest in Britain's wildlife. I tip my hat to Mr Moss for writing one of the best and arguably most important books of the year.
<b>Fatbirder View:</b> I hope the response to this book is wider and more positively reinforcing than it has so far been. This is definitely Stephen Moss’s most important book but also an important contribution to the building lobby of those wanting to see our countryside looked after rather better than it has been of late.
There is, of course, much about this book that is positive, not least Stephen’s view that there are changes for the better beginning to happen. His description of some of the current heroes of the countryside from conservationists to ordinary farmers with an extraordinary commitment to wildlife gives us both evidence that some people care, but also that you can run successful, profitable farms <i>and</i> bring back birds and other wildlife from the brink.
I know that when I write about something that I passionately care about I write my best prose and that is clearly true of Stephen too. His love of wild things and wild places is very evident. But he is an educator too. His background in documentary TV makes it a given that he wants to tell a rounded story and if you read the chapter on woodland you will see a great example. This is no prissy tree hugger with a rose-coloured backward pointing lens. He makes sure that we all understand that the ‘natural world’ we see is actually one that has been bent to man’s will for millennia. The truly wild is virtually unknown in these islands as we have been managing them for centuries. Take off these rosy specs and its evident that the choice is between good and bad management even if part of that management is to leave unmanaged corners.
Like many of us Stephen is calling for sensitivity and sense. We are not just guilty of crimes against nature if we fill in ponds, tear out hedgerows and cover the land in chemicals but are fools to ourselves. Woodland is a living lung, a literal watershed and a refuge for wildlife, but it is also necessary as a place of leisure and restoration of our souls in a frantic world.
Stephen leads us up hill and down dale, across the farmland though the woods and down the river to the sea to show us all what is wrong and what is right about the management of this precious isle and I for one thank him for it.
This is an easy read in terms of style but a hard lesson in terms of the urgency for action. He shows us what we can do and in some cases are doing to restore and better manage what we collectively own. For me the most important bit of people power we have shown was our outrage when the government sought to sell off the forest. We put our collective foot down… and we learned a valuable lesson… we can make a difference if we show how much we care.
Read <i>Wild Kingdom</i> to be angered but also to be inspired; there is hope for nature’s future if we care enough to eliminate our worst practices and learn from today’s best practitioners.
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