A WIL­LIAM CONDRY READER

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Books Reviews -

“As time passes I be­come ever more con­vinced that it is in the wild places that we have the best hope of find­ing such lit­tle san­ity as sur­vives in the world.” So wrote nat­u­ral­ist, con­ser­va­tion­ist and Thore­au­vian Wil­liam Condry (1918–1998), once de­scribed in the Tele­graph as “one of the finest Bri­tish writ­ers on nat­u­ral history in the 20th cen­tury”. Jim Per­rin, a reg­u­lar writer of the Guardian’s Coun­try Diary, wades into the 21st-cen­tury de­bate about con­tem­po­rary na­ture writ­ing by cu­rat­ing the quiet bril­liance of Condry’s prose as it ex­horts us to de­fend the land and “all that lives upon it”. Th­ese sound­scapes rep­re­sent the voice of the nat­u­ral world, and give us a sense of place that no vis­ual cue can pro­vide. I have spent about five decades record­ing in the field. Over 50 per cent of my nat­u­ral sound archive comes from habi­tats that have be­come so com­pro­mised by hu­man en­deav­our that they are ei­ther al­to­gether silent or the bio­phonies can no longer be heard in their orig­i­nal form.

What changes to the wild sonic en­vi­ron­ment have you doc­u­mented?

I live in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia, and this was the first year with ab­so­lutely no bird­song in spring or sum­mer. Due to the im­pact of drought and

How can we help the nat­u­ral sonic en­vi­ron­ment?

Stop the re­lent­less plun­der­ing of our nat­u­ral re­sources and keep the sound we make to a min­i­mum. An­thro­pophony – hu­man noise – af­fects all or­ganic life. For ex­am­ple the noise pro­duced by snow­mo­biles in Yel­low­stone Na­tional Park in the Mid­West caused el­e­vated stress lev­els in wolves and elk.

by Bernie Krause un­cov­ers the col­lec­tive voice of the wild and the im­pact that it has on peo­ple (Yale Univer­sity Press, £14.99): www.yale­books.com

BBC Wildlife

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