Sunday book review: Framing Nature by Laurence Rose

There seems to have been something of a flood of very good books for me to review here recently, and here’s another one (and there are some more in the pipeline). Laurence Rose’s book is a thoughtful and well-informed look at nature conservation in the UK and every few pages I was thinking ‘That’s a very good point’ or ‘That’s an interesting way of putting it – and true too!’ or ‘I’d never thought of it that way’.

And there is little I’d disagree with in these pages but it’s not because I agreed with the author, mostly, that I liked this book so much (I can like books I disagree with too) but because of the thoughtful, informed writing.

Laurence Rose is an RSPB staff member of long-standing and so it’s not surprising he knows a bit about this subject but this book is more about understanding than knowing. And this book is, I’d say, Laurence’s thoughts, not in any way the RSPB’s thoughts, on the issues tackled.

And, to get a bit more baggage out of the way, although Laurence and I were colleagues for many years, we weren’t close colleagues and I vaguely remember a small number of disagreements between us (I expect I was right) so this isn’t a book by one of my best mates.

In these pages, you’ll meet Red Foxes, Otters, Badgers, Corncrakes, Nightingales and more, and the places they live and the people who are trying to help them, and our relationships with these species are set in a wider historial, cultural, context.

‘Framing’ refers to how we look at the subject – from what angle, with what prejudices and built-in preconceptions? There are some handy ideas in here but I don’t want to mislead you into thinking that this is a purely intellectual view of nature conservation, there’s plenty of squelching through the mud, being in the field and engaging with wildlife in these pages too.

I enjoyed Laurence’s previous book, The Long Spring, and if you did too, I reckon you’ll enjoy this one as the writing is just as fine, but I think that this book is even better, or even more to my taste, as it’s even more thought-provoking.

Framing Nature: conservation and culture by Laurence Rose is published by Gritstone Press (which seems an interesting entity in its own right).

Next Sunday I’ll be reviewing The Consolation of Nature by Michael McCarthy, Jeremy Mynott and Peter Marren. Last week I reviewed Orchard by Benedict Macdonald and Nick Gates.

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