Wild Isles is a celebration of the wildlife found on a relatively modest collection of islands positioned at a latitude so northerly to be unattractive to many animals and plants. Despite these unpromising foundations, the islands of Britain and Ireland, together with more than 6,000 lesser islets that make up our archipelago, contain some of the most diverse, beautiful and wildlife-rich landscapes and seas on our planet. This book will explore the fascinating relationships within and between species who make their home on our beautiful isles.
Each chapter focuses on a particular kind of wild space. Britain and Ireland are dominated by a wide variety of grasslands from lowland water meadows to upland moors, and we will see how these human-shaped, semi-natural landscapes thrum with insect, bird and mammal life. Life requires water to flourish, and streams and rivers carry freshwater through our landscape, creating unique ecosystems and interrelations within and beside these waters, which are revealed in a third section. While Britain and Ireland's woodlands are comparatively thin on the ground compared with most of continental Europe, we will see some of the forests and trees that remain are unusually ancient and, great repositories of life. Finally, of course, we are surrounded by sea, and our position on the continental shelf before it plunges into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean gives rise to an often overlooked plenty of marine life. A glorious richness divided into five breathtaking sections.
Introduction: A Bounty of Nature 4
Chapter 1. Our Precious Isles 10
Chapter 2. Our Grasslands 54
Chapter 3. Our Freshwater 116
Chapter 4. Our Woodlands 174
Chapter 5. Our Ocean 238
Epilogue: Take Action for Nature 314
Further Reading 316