Environmental thought and 'green' politics have been mainstream parts of British culture for more than a century. Yet where did these ideas come from? And who created the cherished institutions, such as the National Trust or the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, that are now embedded in our public life?
From the flatlands of Norfolk to the tundra-like expanses of the Flow Country in northernmost Scotland, I made a personal quest to find the answers to these questions and to unravel what nature means to the British people. I also wanted to clarify how I truly felt and feel about what has happened to this country in the last half century.
I explored in detail six special places that embody the history of conservation, or whose fortunes allow us to understand why our landscape has come to look as it does. The book delves into why nature and wildlife should be seen as important in the first place? It looks hard at what we have achieved, where things have gone wrong, and how we can be more effective in the future. Above all it attempts to resolve a paradox: why do the British seem to love their countryside more than almost any other nation, yet they have come to live amid one of the most denatured landscapes on Earth?
Our Place is partly a work of history, partly a personal geographical quest and partly a philosophical inquiry into our relationship with the rest of life. I'd like to think that it tackles some of the central issues of our age. And in its conclusion I attempt to map out how this over-crowded island of ours could be a place fit not just for its human occupants, but for all its billions of citizens.
Publication date is 5 April 2018 and hbk price £16.99.
I am speaking in many venues throughout 2018. Precise details to follow.