Silent Fields

Silent Fields : The Long Decline of a Nation's Wildlife

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Since time immemorial mankind has taken it upon himself to wage war against nature - against those species of birds and mammals which he believes conflict with his livelihood. This remarkable book is about that war of attrition against the native mammals and birds of England and Wales from the middle ages to the present day. There is widespread knowledge about the huge declines in popular species such as song birds, farmland birds, otters, and pine martens, however, there is less understanding about the deep-rooted causes of these losses, or about the complex relationship between mankind and these species. Roger Lovegrove has undertaken years of unique research: by searching through parish records of 'vermin' trapped, hunted, and killed over the generations, he has revealed an unprecedentedly accurate and detailed picture of the history of a nation's wildlife, and of the often devastating impact and extinction that we have forced on our ecology. Consisting of species-by-species accounts, accompanied by beautiful, specially-commissioned illustrations, this book outlines the history - and often the future too - of a wealth of wildlife species, from badgers, bears and beavers, to wolves, kingfishers, the golden eagle and the humble house sparrow. The geographical scope is British, but the subject will be of interest to conservationists around the world because of the unique historical material that will be included. The topic has enormous relevance today, as public concern about the environment rises, and controversies rage about hunting, wildlife management and reintroduction of ancient species.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 137.16 x 215.9 x 38.1mm | 521.63g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Numerous b&w illustrations
  • 0199548153
  • 9780199548156
  • 811,339

About Roger Lovegrove

Roger Lovegrove, OBE, was Director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Wales, until his retirement in 1997. He currently serves on a number of governmental environmental advisory committees. He is the author and contributor to numerous books on birds and wildlife, including the Collins Field Notebook and the Birdwatcher's Diary and has regularly appeared on television and radio. He was awarded an OBE in 1997 for services to wildlife conservation.

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Review quote

The facts are often fickle - which is why this is such an important book. Lovegrove has done a remarkable job. The Times. This is a work of diligent science, rather than literature, but that is exactly what we need. The Times. The future success of wildlife conservation depends on an understanding of the catastrophic failures of the past and Lovegrove's remarkable book makes a huge contribution to that understanding. Sunday Times.

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Table of contents

Introduction ; 1. Lost animals: early eliminations by Man ; 2. The social background to persecution ; 3. To kill a Rat or catch a Kite: methods of control ; 4. Killing in Scotland ; 5. In on the Act - searching the record ; 6. Birds - individual species accounts ; (species accounts from the osprey to the kingfisher and house sparrow) ; 7. Mammals - individual species accounts ; (covering species from the hedgehog and badger to the wild cat and pine marten) ; 8. Local patterns of persecution: England and Wales ; 9. The return of the natives ; 10. Modern control - legal and illegal ; 11. Vermin control and wildlife management: where next? ; App. 1 Summary table of vermin payments extracted from churchwardens' documents ; App. 2 Scientific names of species mentioned in the text ; References ; Index

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