Friday, February 8, 2013

The realities of bird conservation.


This is a book everyone should read, be they already an ardent conservationist or, equally, perhaps more importantly, if they have no particular sympathies with wildlife or environmentalism. There are a number of reasons why I personally enjoyed it so much. I worked for the RSPB for much of the period within which the narrative takes place, I admit to sharing the same opinions presented within the book and I also know the author!! Such being the case I suppose it's hardly likely I would find fault with its contents ( I don't! ), indeed it's slightly embarrassing to admit I agree with virtually all which is said in its 300 or so pages. I'd actually go a step further and suggest that its title should be a necessary reference source within every current academic conservation and environmental course due to its pragmatic style and up to date treatment. Additionally it would behove many whose managerial duties and responsibilities touch on the above subject areas to read it,  indeed,and in particular, it could be considered a compulsory text for those within Government, DEFRA and Planning Authority staff  and many within the agricultural industry!!

So why such unqualified support?

The reader will soon find that the pragmatic and logical approach taken towards some pretty hefty issues is consistent and is combined with a writing style that is light and entertaining, educational and presents summarized information which leads the reader to a better understanding of the various subjects under examination. I certainly appreciated certain matters better than I had done previously and I'd worked within "the industry"! Such success is not an easy one to achieve within a "factual book", but is something the author repeats with admirable ease.

Much of this is accomplished by the issues being set out in a personal context that ensures the "journey", which also embraces the beginnings of the author's interest in natural history, coupled with his more critical involvements in later years, is recounted in a very direct way.  There's humour too. The stories linked to the Reverend Gilbert White's research on bats and the observed activities, by the author, of biologically enthusiastic Bee-eaters on the Camargue are just two amongst many which made me smile. But there is much, much more which is equally as entertaining within the book. Aspects of contemporary conservation "history", cameo stories of personalities who themselves have played major parts within both research and policy advocation undertaken over the years and explanations related to the outcomes of various practical initiatives applied to different conservation challenges are all presented in an informative and engaging way.

In short this is a book that must  be read as widely as possible. As an extremely well constructed foundation dealing with the challenges confronting conservation, and the choices and approaches we might apply to them, this is a "blueprint" that should steer our thoughts and actions for some time to come.

On a more light hearted note I have also to mention the following!! I purchased my copy of the book last year, but then had two-three months with eye trouble within which time I did little or no serious reading. Throughout that time I had left the book out on a table as a reminder that I must return to it at an early stage. As you can see the book's cover carries a superimposed photograph of Mark Avery himself. During the whole of that time I was conscious of a gaze which followed me when passing, as if in mild rebuke for being ignored, but it served as an additional reminder that I should read it at the earliest opportunity!!  Well, it's been worth the wait and I've also every intention of reading it again at some point such is the overwhelming value of its contents. A real pleasure, a great read  and something I have no compunction in recommending to everyone, particularly birders. The various subjects presented in separate chapters, themselves replete with endless examples relevant to the case being considered, serve to illustrate why we should all find time to       " Fight for birds", a mission that the book more than successfully achieves.

"Fighting for Birds  -  25 years in nature conservation"    Mark Avery.
Pelagic Publishing   www.pelagicpublishing.com
ISBN 978-1- 907807-29-9.  (Pbk ).
  
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