Fighting for Birds: 25 years in nature conservation, A new book we should all read by Mark Avery.
Raptor Politics wishes to express our gratitude to Mark Avery for bringing a breath of fresh air and truth into the world of birds and the politics which all too often surrounds their well-being today. We are delighted to recommend Mark’s new book “Fighting for Birds”, because that is what Raptor Politics is also fighting for - but in our case we are fighting for the right of raptors to survive in a hostile and often unsympathetic environment in which these birds attempt to live their lives.
Writers write to influence their readers, their preachers, their auditors, but always, at bottom, to be more themselves.
This is a book about birds and wildlife and how to save them. It’s told through the perspective of my 54 years on this planet, during most of which time I have been fascinated by, and in love with, the natural world. If you were to be utterly conventional and start at the beginning of the book and read through to the end, then you would progress from the past to the future, and from the personal to the general. Throughout, I try to extract particular lessons and general truths from the instances and events described, whilst also trying to give the smells and the flavours of work in conservation– as it is actually done. There is a lot of me in this book, but it’s certainly not an autobiography. There is nothing here of girls, marriage, family or love – except a love affair with the natural world. But in writing about nature I have dipped into my own experiences and work over the years to tell a story of how nature conservation works in the UK. So there is quite a lot about birds I saw, places I visited and people I met – but the hero, or heroine, is definitely Nature, not me.
The first chapter skips through more than half my life to explain the infuences that made me a nature-lover, birder, naturalist and conservationist, and ends with me arriving at the RSPB in 1986 as a scientist. The next two chapters describe some of my early work as a scientist at the RSPB involved in upland aforestation issues in the far north of Scotland and roseate tern conservation from the UK to West Africa. These two areas, between them, introduced me to a wide range of the RSPB’s conservation work from policy to nature reserves in the UK and beyond. The bulk of the book consists of stories about diferent aspects of nature conservation told through my experiences at the RSPB but also trying to extract the bigger messages from these events and to develop an intellectual framework for nature conservation.
This book is not a day-by - day, month-by-month, nor even year-by-year account of the life and times of an RSPB person. Rather, it is a collection of thoughts and refections on the birds,places and people that I’ve encountered over a 25 year career in the world’s best nature conservation organisation – more than half of that time spent in a senior post as Conservation Director. The last few chapters try to make some sense of the broader state of UK nature conservation with its tangled bank of wildlife NGOs, and sets out some challenges for all of us who want to make the world a better place for nature.
The views expressed in this book are mine, not those of the RSPB. Some of them are the views that I had to keep to myself as an employee and am now free to voice as a freelance writer and environmental commentator (Chapters10, 11, 15 and 16 are the main places to find these). If you would like to keep in touch with my writing and thoughts then I write a daily blog about UK wildlife issues at www.markavery.info and a monthly column, ‘the political birder’, for Birdwatch magazine.Mark Avery, Northants, March 2012.
1 comment to Fighting for Birds: 25 years in nature conservation, A new book we should all read by Mark Avery.
Glen Orchy sentencing update…adjourned for the god knows how many times! Can this be a case of the defence funded by lots of money and too much power, attempting to ensure that each time the case is brought to court and then adjourned, the costs incurred by the prosecution and their witnesses will increase to such an extent the powers that be in Scotland are mindful that bringing such cases in the future are not worth all the expense?