This is a book about saving wild places across the world. In its chapters we travel from a couple of places in Kent to Glasgow, the Gwent Levels, the Fens of Cambridgeshire but also the mid West of the USA, forests in India and the seas of Indonesia.
Each of the chapters deal with a problem, a place and the people trying to remove the problem from the place. There are some inspiring stories here.
There are two places where, topically and interestingly, a certain Boris Johnson crops up. I did wonder whether it was really possible that even Boris really said ‘…it’s tragic we have protest groups talking about ‘this ancient woodland’ when actually there’s no tree in this country that’s more than 200 years old.’ but it appears that he really, really did, and I will always be grateful to this author for pointing that out to me and to the world. I knew already that Boris had continued to push his idea of a third London airport in or next to the North Kent Marshes while he was London Mayor even after the experts had pointed out how daft an idea it really was. Boris would be a danger to the environment (but that doesn’t mean that Jeremy Hunt would not be an equal danger, of course).
Despite this being a subject close to my own heart, and some of the places being close to my heart too, and even some of the people in these pages being ones I have worked with and admired, I didn’t warm to the book. Sorry! The books lacks a narrative grip, it feels like a series of disjointed case studies to me, and even within some chapters I couldn’t get a hold of what was meant to be the message. Judging from the quotes on the back cover of this book I am missing something – maybe I am, but I certainly did miss it.
Do you like the dust jacket? Nor did I.
Irreplaceable : the fight to save our wild places by Julian Hoffman is published by Hamish Hamilton.