Sunday book review – Human, Nature by Ian Carter

Ian Carter has a close association with this blog being a regular commenter, a writer of guest blogs and a contributor of a series of articles on Wild Food and another entitled A Break from Humanity. A very small proportion of that collection of work finds its way into this book – probably what Ian thought were the best bits. So if you have been a regular reader of this blog you will know that Ian writes well and his opinions are based on experience of nature and of nature conservation. He worked for the Nature Conservancy Council/English Nature/Natural England for 30 years and so he writes with a solid conservation perspective. I pretty much agree with Ian on most things but where we differ it always makes me review my own opinions.

This is a series of essays which makes a delightful read. Ian addresses a whole range of subjects and his ideas and feelings about them. The book is in four sections: Close to Home where everyday interactions with wildlife trigger thoughts and feelings, Human Nature where ideas about nature conservation are explored, Conflicts touches on some of the trickier aspects of nature conservation (eg reintroductions and non-native species) in a very balanced way and Wild Places explores the author’s search for wildness in wild places and those not so wild.

This is a book in which, for me at least, nothing jars, nothing grates but nowhere are the author’s opinions shallow. Ian has lived these issues and considered them. This book is one person’s exploration of their relationship with nature as a naturalist but their reflections on society’s interaction with that same nature through a lifetime’s work in nature conservation. Not only are the interactions with nature well told and engaging, the deeper thoughts they trigger have been honed by a lifetime’s experience.

The cover by Angela Harding works well for me, and somehow seems in keeping with the tone of the text inside. A good 8/10 I think. And Richard Allen’s black and white species portraits are an attractive way to break up the sections of the book.

Human, Nature: a naturalist’s thoughts on wildlife and wild places by Ian Carter is published by Pelagic.