228 pages, 8 plates with 20 colour photos; 20 b/w photos, 21 b/w maps
Islands have an irresistible attraction and an enduring appeal. Naturalist Roger Lovegrove has visited many of the most remote islands in the world, and in this book he takes the reader to twenty that fascinate him the most. Some are familiar but most are little known; they range from the storm-bound island of South Georgia and the ice-locked Arctic island of Wrangel to the wind-swept, wave-lashed Mykines and St Kilda.
The range is diverse and spectacular; and whether distant, offshore, inhabited, uninhabited, tropical or polar, each is a unique self-contained habitat with a delicately-balanced ecosystem, and each has its own mystique and ineffable magnetism. Central to each story is also the impact of human settlers. Lovegrove recounts unforgettable tales of human endeavour, tragedy, and heroism. But consistently, he has to report on the mankind's negative impact on wildlife and habitats – from the exploitation of birds for food to the elimination of native vegetation for crops.
By looking not only at the biodiversity of each island, but also the uneasy relationship between its wildlife and the involvement of man, he provides a richly detailed account of each island, its diverse wildlife, its human history, and the efforts of conservationists to retain these irreplaceable sites.
"you will find the island hopping a fascinating journey of discovery."
– Mike Cowton, Eco Travel Guide
"Lovegrove manages to capture each island's identity and mystery and transmits his affection for these faraway places."
– Northern Echo
"[...] The author asks some challenging questions in his Epilogue. With modern travel shrinking the world, and island life changing forever as a result, should visitor numbers be controlled? Do the changes which we might assume improve their quality of life bring more, or less, contentment to the people living there? And finally, will remote communities slowly become homogenized and lose much of their distinctiveness?
The most difficult question to answer, however, is this: what is the one species of bird which occurs on every one of the 20 islands described in this book? You will have to buy the book to find the answer. I can guarantee that you won’t regret your purchase."
- Tony Marr, Ibis 156, 2014
2: Chinijo Archipelago
3: Jan Mayen
6: San Blas Islands
8: Fernando de Noronha
11: Tristan da Cunha
13: St Kilda
14: South Georgia
15: Halfmoon Island
16: The Skelligs
17: Isle aux Aigrettes
18: Solovetski Islands
19: St Peter and St Paul Rocks
20: Tuamotu Archipelago
Scientific Names of Species
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Roger Lovegrove was RSPB Director for Wales for 27 years and since retirement has been a member of the board of The Countryside Council for Wales, served on the Forestry Commission Advisory Committee for Wales, was chair of the Welsh woodland initiative (Ty Coed), and founder and later chairman of the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust. For twelve years he also served as a wildlife inspector for DEFRA. He is the author of some ten books, including Birds of Wales, The Red Kite's Tale, and most recently Silent Fields.