Stephen Moss Square Peg, 2016, HBK, BW Bookshop price £16.99
We’ve become used to hearing of the grave threats faced by the UK’S wild creatures, from habitat loss, persecution, climate change and a host of other factors. The disappearance of once-ubiquitous species, such as House Sparrow, from large parts of our landscapes and lives is perhaps even more alarming than the decline of already rarer ones, such as the Scottish Wildcat. It’s a surprise then, and a heartening one, to find that Stephen Moss finds so much hope in his wide-ranging analysis of efforts to bring back Britain’s wildlife. It’s not that he paints a rose-tinted picture, or flinches from considering controversial measures for giving struggling species the space they need to thrive. A selective cull of Grey Squirrels to save the embattled Reds, for example, is something Moss admits reluctantly coming round to. Throughout, though, he tempers his hardnosed pragmatism with an acknowledgement of the sometimes startling conservation successes already achieved – the rise and rise of city centre Peregrines, for example, or the return of the Otter to so many British rivers. And so, by the end of this thoroughly readable and engaging book, you’re left with a renewed energy for the fight, and a conviction that rewilding and landscape-scale initiatives can restore some of our most cherished wildlife, while also forming a vital part of the economy. Moss writes with a passion and feeling that his crisp prose kindles in the reader, too.