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The best books of 2020: Nature, climate and the environment

  • Written by  Geographical
  • Published in Books
The best books of 2020: Nature, climate and the environment
09 Dec
2020
 A key category for us here at Geographical, we review all the best nature and environment books in our monthly magazine. Here’s our pick of the best from 2020...

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IRREPLACEABLE: The Fight to Save Our Wild Places by Julian Hoffman

Nature and place aren’t mutually exclusive ideas. ‘Both are critically necessary to the flourishing of human and wild communities,’ writes Julian Hoffman, author of the superb Irreplaceable, which was shortlisted for the 2020 Wainwright Prize for writing on global conservation. In Irreplaceable we hear about the small roles, the minor voices and places that are essential for the collective countering of creeping loss – of habitats, of species, of the relationships between people and place. A love letter to habitats and species, and an account of the ties between humans and wildlife. – Elizabeth Wainwright

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OWLS OF THE EASTERN ICE: The Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl by Jonathan C Slaght

In the primeval and largely untouched forests of Primorye, near the borders of Russia, China and North Korea, there lives a rare bird with a two-metre wingspan called the Blakiston’s fish owl. There are probably fewer than 2,000 of them worldwide. Then-postgrad biologist Jonathan Slaght describes the trials, tribulations and ultimately triumphs of his research with the birds. Owls of the Eastern Ice is an entertaining memoir of an extraordinary type of fieldwork, as well as an informative and much-needed voice for the fish owl. – A S H Smyth

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ENTANGLED LIFE: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Future by Merlin Sheldrake 

One of the more unexpected hits of the year, Entangled Life tells the fantastic story of fungi. We need to pay attention to fungi, says Sheldrake. Having existed for millions of years and survived numerous cataclysmic events, they know a thing or two about living on a damaged planet. Written by a scientific polymath, Entangled Life is a psilocybin trip in itself that reveals the world in its dirty, earthy, messy and inseparable splendour. – Olivia Edward

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THE FALCON THIEF: A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird by Joshua Hammer

Do you remember what you were doing on 3 May 2010? Jeffrey Lendrum does. He was wandering around Birmingham International Airport with the eggs of 14 rare peregrine falcons strapped to his stomach, which he’d recently pinched from a cliff in Wales, about to be apprehended by the police. So begins Joshua Hammer’s new book The Falcon Thief, a thrilling and alarming story of the lengths Lendrum is willing to go to supply his wealthy clients in the Middle East with eggs, and the man out to stop him: Detective Andy McWilliam of the United Kingdom’s National Wildlife Crime Unit. – Harriet Constable

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NATIVE: Life in a Vanishing Landscape by Patrick Laurie

Patrick Laurie returns to his native Galloway in southwest Scotland, with the sole ambition of farming and raising livestock like his family had before him. Haunted by nature’s declining fortunes, he hopes that by bringing back ‘the old ways’ – mixed farming instead of monocultures, slow-growing rare-breed cattle instead of modern European beef breeds, a sickle and a scythe instead of a combine harvester – he can also bring back the wildlife that once thrived on Galloway’s farmland. – Geordie Torr

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THE CITIZEN’S GUIDE TO CLIMATE SUCCESS: Overcoming Myths That Hinder Progress by Mark Jaccard 

 For climate policy expert Marc Jaccard, slowing climate change is ‘manageable’ if only we change our ways – and debunk some dangerous myths. 

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FOOTPRINTS: In Search of Future Fossils by David Farrier 

 ‘Footprints is my attempt to discover how we will be remembered by the very deep future,’ explains literature academic David Farrier. Starting with the discovery in Norfolk of fossilised human footprints dating back 850,000 years, he undertakes a globe-trotting exercise to imagine what information we will leave for our descendants, hundreds or even thousands of generations forward in time.  – Chris Fitch

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