IN­TER­VIEW:

Bird Watching (UK) - - Parting Shot -

GE­ORGE MON­BIOT HAS be­come known as the un­com­pro­mis­ing and hard-hit­ting lead­ing light of the rewil­d­ing move­ment. John Miles caught up with him…

BW: You have writ­ten sev­eral books on sub­jects rang­ing from pol­i­tics to the Ama­zon. What made you write your lat­est book, Feral? GM: It was born of frus­tra­tion at both the dire state of our ecosys­tems and the te­dium of my own life, which was a symp­tom, I be­lieve, of eco­log­i­cal bore­dom: a lack of con­tact with suf­fi­ciently in­ter­est­ing na­ture.

BW: Feral has up­set the Coun­try Landown­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion and Na­tional Farm­ers’ Union, not to men­tion a few con­ser­va­tion­ists. What do you say to them? GM: I un­der­stand why they are up­set: it’s a di­rect chal­lenge to the land man­age­ment prac­tices of th­ese groups, which are, un­for­tu­nately, far too sim­i­lar. Some con­ser­va­tion groups seem to be en­gaged in lit­tle more than slightly mod­i­fied farm­ing. The idea that we could re­store the kind of wildlife that farm­ing has erased from the land­scape seems to be be­yond them: even in places where farm­ing is sus­tained only with ex­trav­a­gant sub­si­dies, they fo­cus on the few species that have sur­vived its im­pacts, rather than the far richer ecosys­tem that rewil­d­ing would per­mit.

BW: You love sea-kayak­ing. What are your favourite birds while out on the wa­ter? GM: Some of the most ex­cit­ing times at sea for me are when I find my­self in the middle of a feed­ing frenzy: with Gan­nets plum­met­ing into the wa­ter around my kayak, shear­wa­ters swirling around me and, some­times, dol­phins breach­ing among them.

BW: In your book The Age of Con­sent you talk about a world par­lia­ment. Do you see Birdlife In­ter­na­tional do­ing that job for birds? GM: There’s no doubt that, if we are to be ef­fec­tive, we have to work be­yond bor­ders. That ap­plies to al­most all is­sues, but par­tic­u­lar to the con­ser­va­tion of highly mo­bile species. I greatly ad­mire Birdlife In­ter­na­tional and the breadth of its per­spec­tive.

BW: A third of the Lake District is owned by our­selves, the cit­i­zens of the UK, via the Na­tional Trust. Do you think they are do­ing enough to bring back the real land­scape? GM: Not at all. They have a joint pro­ject in En­nerdale where good things are hap­pen­ing, but I was sur­prised, when I vis­ited, by how small it is. Else­where in the Lakes their land is char­ac­terised by ex­treme degra­da­tion: it has been thor­oughly sheep-wrecked. Places which would once have been thickly forested hills, which would have had nat­u­ral tree­lines and a rich and var­ied flora and fauna, have been re­duced to close-cropped turf

Four beau­ties! Irides­cent Wal­drapp’s catch­ing some rays

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.