2 February 2022
This collection of essays (each of which could stand alone as an article in a magazine) is subtitled, “Nature in Recovery.” It’s a look at how natural places in Europe are recovering from environmental degradation. It is a soulful series of examinations of rewilding, of endangered species bouncing back, of the people working hard to change the fraught human relationship to the natural world. Most of the essays are framed around a particular animal in a particular place: pelicans in Greece, wolves in the Netherlands, beavers in the U.K., bears in Transylvania, the capercaillie in Scotland, vultures in Spain. It’s a travel book, in a way, describing what author Karen Lloyd sees and thinks and experiences while in these places, and what they portend for the rest of the world. It’s well written, though the style varies a bit from chapter to chapter. There were a few factual errors – 300 mm is not 3 m, for instance (p. 140), and the Millennium Falcon isn’t host to X-wing fighters (p. 24). I’m compulsive about noting such errors when I find them, but in no way does either drag down the central narrative, which is that passionate, well-informed citizens can come to the aid of their wild brethren, creating the conditions where the animals can thrive, ecosystems can better function, and we humans can be inspired by it all. These dozen snippets from conservation and restoration work in Europe can inform humanity’s “cathedral thinking” for years to come. Lloyd lays out tangible evidence that hope isn’t frivolous but vital, a vital urging for our species to consider all the others.