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Linescapes Remapping and Reconnecting Britain's Fragmented Wildlife

Nature Writing
By: Hugh Warwick(Author)
264 pages, no illustrations
Publisher: Vintage
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  • Linescapes ISBN: 9780099597766 Paperback Apr 2018 In stock
  • Linescapes ISBN: 9780224100892 Hardback May 2017 Out of Print #233407
Selected version: £10.99
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About this book

It is rare to find a landscape untouched by our lines – the hedges, walls, ditches and dykes built to enclose and separate; and the green lanes, roads, canals, railways and power lines, designed to connect. This vast network of lines has transformed our landscape. In Linescapes, Hugh Warwick unravels the far-reaching ecological consequences of the lines we have drawn: as our lives and our land were being fenced in and threaded together, so wildlife habitats have been cut into ever smaller, and increasingly unviable, fragments. Hugh Warwick has travelled across the country to explore this linescape from the perspective of our wildlife and to understand how, with a manifesto for reconnection, we can help our flora and fauna to flourish. Linescapes offers a fresh and bracing perspective on Britain's countryside, one that proposes a challenge and gives ground for hope; for while nature does not tend to straight lines and discrete borders, our lines can and do contain a real potential for wildness and for wildlife.

Customer Reviews (1)

  • Man made barriers both impeded and enrich nature
    By charles 25 Sep 2021 Written for Paperback
    Lines on the landscape both divide and connect, that is Hugh Warwick’s central argument in this, his fourth book. The author has previously written about hedgehogs, about which he frequently contributes to the media, and wildlife more generally, and I expected Linescapes to describe the impediments human-made barriers present to our wildlife, and to an extent that is what I got, but he goes much further, even ending on a note of hope!

    Warwick’s book contains chapters on human-made barriers of hedges, ditches and dikes, walls, ancient paths and green lanes, canals, railways, roads, and pylons, and pipelines. The separation of male and female animals by walls and vegetation was key to selective breeding of domestic and farm animals, but now these very barriers are rich lacunae for biodiversity, connecting isolated communities, as are canal banks, motorway verges and the bases of pylons, products of our Anthropocene landscape. For example, where once the hot ash from steam trains scorched the edges of railway tracks, rendering them near uninhabitable to much wildlife, the demise of smoking engines has seen the rehabilitation of this ‘soft estate’, 30,000 hectares of it, as a reservoir for animals and plants of many sorts; however, one mature tree beside a line may shed 50,000 leaves, it only takes a few tonnes to compress into a fine and traction-less mulch on the rails, for travellers to hear that dreaded announcement, ‘leaves on the line’! Much worse, Warwick recounts how a barbed wire fence in Texas in 1885 led to the deaths of thousands of cattle when they were unable to move south to avoid blizzards, and how the barbed wire fence erected by Slovenia in 2015, erected to control the flow of migrants, is also having decimating effects on the wildlife, as well as humans. One must question what damage a separation wall between the USA and Mexico might have.

    Hugh Warwick writes with great passion and intensity, with a wealth of information. On every page enticing details are revealed, from ancient reaves (lines of stones), erected on Dartmoor around 3,500 years ago, to the 43 minutes taken by a photon of light to travel from the sun to Jupiter and 35 minutes to be reflected back from there to Earth. However, Warwick’s work is much more than an I-Spy book of worthy facts. In his final two chapters he wrestles with how the worth and value of our landscape can be included in the value we place on nature, its value for our health and sanity, our fundamental well-being. ‘An infrastructure in harmony with the landscape is easy and cheap if done right from the beginning’ says Lars Nilson, Environment Director of the Swedish Transport Administration, a message the designers of the HS2 railway line need to hear loud and clear, and now.

    Academics we may work and think in fragmented ways, but Hugh Warwick is a thoroughly holistic worker, thinker, scholar and writer and, I expect, speaker. I recommend this book unreservedly, in particular to postgraduate students starting work on ‘the landscape’; it is a rich source of suggestions for possible lines for enquiry, and a brilliant source of pithy quotations!
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Hugh Warwick is an ecologist and writer with a particular fondness for hedgehogs. He is the author of A Prickly Affair, The Beauty in the Beast and Hedgehog, a monograph. Hugh has studied hedgehogs, off and on, for over 30 years, spending months radio-tracking them around the West Country and Scotland. He is a spokesperson for the Britiish Hedgehog Preservation Society and appears regularly in the media talking about wildlife and the environment. He lives in Oxford with his wife and two children.

Nature Writing
By: Hugh Warwick(Author)
264 pages, no illustrations
Publisher: Vintage
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