Our first Book Club blog in April aimed to help people feel closer to nature when cut off from it during lockdown. Whilst much of the world is now cautiously opening back up, we have been enjoying some fantastic conservation books and documentaries so want to share these with you regardless! After all, there is a huge wide world of incredible nature to venture into..
As always, please let us know your thoughts and any recommendations for future reading.
Rainforest: Dispatches from Earth’s most vital frontlines, Tony Juniper (2018)
As it is World Rainforest Day on Monday, it seems fitting to start with a rainforest conservation book. Tony Juniper’s “Rainforest: Dispatches from Earth’s most vital frontlines” is a perfect read for anyone aspiring to work in conservation or who just has a love of rainforests. Starting with a detailed introduction to rainforest ecology and then adventuring around the world looking at deforestation challenges and successes, Juniper’s first-hand insight into the work of NGO campaigns makes this book stand out from the crowd. Nowhere in the book does he sugar-coat the (often dire) situation and, while it can quite rightly be depressing at times, this makes for further inspiration for the reader to do what they can to help the world’s rainforests.
The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben (2015)
So I live in a forest and spend most of my days talking about forests, yet this book gave me a new perspective on them. In “The Hidden Life of Trees”, Wohlleben brings the secret magic of forests to life. Be introduced to the wonder of the Wood Wide Web; meet trees that can count, trees that can see and trees that can learn and remember. This book is almost a love letter to trees, split into 36 little treaties on different aspects of their lifecycle and behaviour. Whilst focussed primarily on European forests, readers anywhere in the world will find their eyes opened by this book and a new appreciation for the magic around them next time they take a walk in the woods..
Wild Hope, Andrew Balmford (2012)
In this book, Cambridge conservation professor Andrew Balmford addresses the observation that in its urgent need to raise public awareness of the huge scale of the threat faced, the conservation movement has risked losing one vital ingredient for it’s success: hope. This richly-researched journey visiting conservation success stories spans a breadth of geographies and habitats, finding hope not just for the ecosystems threatened but also for businesses, water supplies, poverty alleviation and more. Balmford’s scientific approach challenges the successes of the projects rather than simply viewing in rose-tinted glasses, whilst also interweaving a subtle dose of humour – I particularly enjoyed the discussion on an “aerial bombardment with poisonous chipolatas” in Australia. Overall, this is definitely a book to spark positivity in dark times and bring smiles to the face of any nature lover.
Looking for a nature-focussed Netflix binge this evening? Check out some of our documentary recommendations:
If you like the bit at the end of wildlife documentaries where they show you how it was filmed, you will love Chasing Coral. This documentary is a mixture of science, nature, cinematography and personal stories, with an incredibly hard-hitting visual message of the impact of climate change on our reefs. It also has hands down the best credits I’ve seen in ages – definitely watch it to the end!
Dancing with the Birds
Not what I was expecting, this is a bird documentary with a twist – a dance show twist. Starring a cast of some amazing birds of paradise, it is wonderfully and hilariously narrated by Stephen Fry. There is choreography to put Dirty Dancing to shame (seriously, pole dancing birds) and costumes that could have featured in any Rio Carnival, but it is the music that makes it, just perfectly matched for comedic effect. Overall, a good giggle and a great way to wind down at the end of the day.
Night on Earth
Netflix proves its credentials as a new leader in nature documentaries with Night On Earth. Using amazing technology, this series unveils the magic of some of the world's most spectacular natural habitats at night. The heat-sensitive cameras light up the nighttime wildlife in magical, almost Avatar-like footage. As jungle-dwellers, we loved the Jungle episode as it brought to life some of the sounds we hear each night - especially the frogs!