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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

on 31 August 2017
This is a fine example of the 'regional' strand of New Naturalist volumes. 'The enquiring spirit of the old naturalist' is here made manifest. Peterken has the professionalism to handle the details of geology, speciation and the like; and the sense of the sweep of history to bring gains and losses into some balance over a considerable period of time. It follows that the story of the Wye Valley, and Peterken's arguments based on that story, have resonance for areas throughout the country. His deep love of the Valley, which he has made his home, is evident throughout. He sets information in intriguing context - thus he suggests that the "climate and site conditions" around the flat tops of the Seven Sisters, rock pillars in the valley, "almost match the conditions found in the Cevennes of south-central France".

Where appropriate, Peterken does not pull his punches: the problems presented by the growth in numbers of Grey Squirrels and of deer are starkly exposed. He reminds us that "arable fields, leys and improved pastures form the majority of the land in the Lower Wye" and he cautions that "with increasing worldwide competition for resources, it would be surprising if we did not feel the need to continue to maximise production from much of the Lower Wye's farmland". He notes that "the great loss has been the art of moderate land usage, which was the hallmark of traditional, less mechanised, agriculture" - and he devotes much of his concluding chapter to examples of the ways in which local, often voluntary, action is gradually reclaiming that 'art'. Woodlands and forestry (perhaps Peterken's specialities) have since the 1980s "provided a bastion for nature". He urges 'networking', linking currently sadly separated landscapes so that a whole range of species can "overcome the effects of isolation in fragmented seminatural habitats".

Peterken includes Severnside in his survey and it is sad to have to report that, as I read his book, the August 2017 issue of British Wildlife carries, as its editorial ('The hammer blow poised above an ecosystem fizzing with life'), excoriation of the Welsh government for favouring a road development that threatens a significant part of the Gwent Levels.
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on 10 February 2010
The New Naturalist series has long been regarded as the voice of authority for the wide variety of subjects it covers. In "Wye Valley, George Peterken has maintained the high standard, combining his deep knowledge of the area with enthusiasm and a very readable style of writing.
As would be expected in a tome of 400+ pages, coverage of the subject is comprehensive - everything from oak trees to obscure moths. Whether you are looking for a guide to landscape or human social history, or to find the whereabouts of animals and plants, both rare or commonplace, you`ll find what you are looking for somewhere in this volume.
From a personal viewpoint, it could easily be a case of "preaching to the converted", this being one of my favourite parts of the planet. However, I suspect that on reading this book, anyone unfamiliar with the area will be tempted to go out and explore the Lower Wye for themselves.
"Wye Valley" is a fine addition to the New Naturalist series, and does full justice to the natural history of a magnificent part of Britain.
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on 27 May 2012
Another excellent book in this Collins series. The book largely concentrates on the natural history of the lower Wye Valley, the area best known to visitors. Full of interesting information for those who want to do more than just look at the scenery.
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