LGPLBy Norman Maclean Cambridge University Press, 2015; pbk, 424pp; colour and black-and-white illustrations ISBN 978-1-107-67323-6, £16.99 A foreword by Chris Packham sets the scene for this book, which amounts to a 'Domesday Book' of the British and Irish countryside. A countryside that is cherished. Norman Maclean was editor of the mammoth, highly successful Silent Summer (Brit. Birds 103: 738) and this book aims to present the contents of Silent Summer in a more concise and accessible format. And it does just that, enabling a much wider audience to be reached. It is an essential textbook for students reading environmental and countryside courses, providing countless case studies of our 'doomed' wildlife and the tragic losses over recent decades. Maclean sets the scene well in each chapter, presenting the context to support his points and predictions. The reader is presented with digestible nuggets of information about many different issues. The book contains plenty of data and references yet Maclean writes in an accessible, reader-friendly style to keep his audience engaged and interested, avoiding the temptation to get too technical or to waffle. It is essentially a reference book, one that can be delved into as necessary, although it can just as well be read from cover to cover. A huge amount is crammed into this book. Beginning with the earth's history, we journey through farming, species introductions, human overcrowding, freshwater availability and hunting, to conservation. The second 'half' of the book is an analysis of how our wildlife is faring. The challenges for wildlife in the twenty-first century are complex, none more so than for migratory animals, which face different pressures in different parts of the globe. Readers can learn a terrific amount from this book, as case studies and summaries of a multitude of issues are presented. And, perhaps most importantly, they may be inspired to help make a difference. Towards the end of the book, grounds for optimism are pointed out: town parks and gardens as wildlife havens, mutual benefits between field sports and wildlife conservation, the role of zoos and the role of the media, increasing public appreciation and awareness of wildlife issues. After presenting plenty of depressing facts, Maclean offers a list of 'what can be done to help' the countryside. It provides the reader with much-needed motivation to make a difference, to believe that the future of our countryside doesn't need to be all doom and gloom. There is hope, a greener and more pleasant land. But ultimately it is up to us. This book deserves a place on the shelves of all of those who really care about the countryside and are concerned for its future. But equally, and perhaps more importantly, on the shelves of those who want to learn more about our countryside and how it works. Ajay Tegala
Issue 12
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