In this informed, incisive and passionate commentary on the state of nature and conservation, Mark Avery reflects on our relationship with the wildlife around us. From the cats that pass through his garden to the chronic decline of farmland wildlife, from the Pasqueflowers he visits every spring to the proportion of national income devoted to saving nature – everything is connected, and everything is considered.
This book analyses what is wrong with certain ways we do wildlife conservation but explores some of its many successes too. How can we do better to restore wildlife to everybody's lives? We know how to conserve species and habitats – it's time to roll out conservation measures on a much bigger scale. This is a societal choice in which every nature lover can play their part. Reflections sets out what is needed, and what part the state, environmental charities and we as individuals can play in making that happen.
This highly personal work from a life embedded in and dedicated to nature does not shy away from the harsh realities we face, but its message, ultimately, is one of hope.
1. Glimpses of wildlife
2. The state of wildlife in the UK
3. What is wildlife conservation?
4. Wildlife conservation successes
5. Why are we failing so badly?
6. What wildlife needs (and how to provide it)
Notes, references and further reading
Dr Mark Avery is a senior UK conservationist with nearly four decades' experience of giving wildlife a better future. The author of numerous previous books, including Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands (2015), Mark worked for the RSPB for 25 years before going freelance in 2011. He lives in rural Northamptonshire.
"A timely, brutally honest, yet inspiring account on what has gone wrong with wildlife conservation, and how we can put it right."
– Stephen Moss, naturalist and author
"If I were 'king for a day', Avery would be instantly installed as the benign dictator of conservation in the UK. If you love wildlife, read this, think about this, and act upon this."
– Chris Packham, broadcaster and author of Back to Nature
"Mark Avery is uniquely qualified to write this immensely stimulating and thought-provoking book. Reflecting on his lifetime in conservation he discusses the successes and failures of the past, and draws important lessons for more effective conservation in the future."
– Professor Ian Newton FRS, ornithologist and conservationist
"Reflections is a work of distilled campaigning wisdom, told with the irrepressible optimism of a passionate advocate for nature who's spent decades working tirelessly for wildlife. With wit, verve and clarity of prose, Mark Avery lays out a strikingly radical set of proposals for how to turn around the decline of wildlife in these isles."
– Guy Shrubsole, environmental campaigner and author of The Lost Rainforests of Britain and Who Owns England?
"Dr Avery must be congratulated on this important book. He hits the nail on the head. I found myself nodding my head vigorously while reading it. The time for action is now."
– Baron Randall of Uxbridge, RSPB Council member and peer
"Mark Avery has written a love letter to Nature. Yes it is well written and academically sound and all that you'd expect from a person of his track record, but the real pleasure of the book is that under all that patina of propriety and science you feel a Mr Darcy launching himself into the lake because nothing is more important to him than capturing our hearts with his passion. A real triumph."
– Sir Tim Smit, Co-founder and Vice Chairman of the Eden Project
"A clarion call for more nature in Britain and how we can get it. Wise, knowledgeable, provocative and good humoured – Mark Avery is a national treasure."
– Patrick Barkham, author of Wild Green Wonders and co-author of Wild Isles
"A brilliant, thorough book full of insightful observation. A must read for those who care about natures future and wish to understand the character of our contorted relationship with it."
– Derek Gow, author of Bringing Back the Beaver
"Deeply felt and clear eyed, this book admirably achieves its aim of being 'realistically hopeful' about a wildlife renaissance and what it will take for us to get there. You don't have to agree with all its conclusions. But the questions it intelligently explores, based on a lifetime of experience in conservation, of 'what sort of world do we want to live in?' and 'what should I do about it, then?' are the essential ones of our times. Read it and be both enlightened and challenged."
– Beccy Speight, CEO, RSPB
"Mark Avery has been a guiding light in conservation all my life; a constant north star. This important book bears witness to what we've lost, what we've done about it, what works and what we must do next. It is both a reckoning and a resounding call to real action, at the most crucial time of our lives – of all our wild lives. Here is hope, predicated on action. There is work to do; and we'd better get on with it."
– Nicola Chester, RSPB Columnist and author of On Gallows Down: Place, Protest and Belonging