While the observation that much of the planet — particularly the UK — has been divided up for purposes other than ecology isn’t a new one, Warwick has hit on a fresh approach by pointing out that nature doesn’t really do straight lines, yet straight lines are exactly what we have introduced. Therefore, which species thrive in a human-dominated environment depends primarily on how suitable they are to living along narrow corridors. He wants us to ‘think hedgehog’, to imagine the world from the perspective of vulnerable wildlife in search of safe habitat in Britain’s carved up landscape.
Ditches. Dykes. Canals. The full extent to which the British landscape is divided up with artificial lines is disorienting. Some of our infrastructure, as Warwick points out, is often not as harshly sterile and devoid of life as might be imagined; many grassy verges besides motorways and train lines have created microhabitats for numerous plants and animals unable to survive in more regularly trodden patches of land. The book does fleetingly cast an eye away from British shores, to parts of the world where lines are producing quite dramatic changes to the planet, such as the under-construction Great Green Wall in the Sahara. It feels hard to shake the feeling that this global view would have been of great benefit throughout, instead of getting bogged down in the nitty-gritty of domestic matters. However, Warwick has probed some interesting perspectives, serious food for thought whatever your stance on conservation.
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