Book Review: Human, Nature: A Naturalists Thoughts on Wildlife & Wild Places by Ian Carter

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

When the publishers asked me to review Human, Nature I warned them that it would be a while before I got to it, there were a number of books in the review pile. However I am really glad that it made it to the top of the pile because it’s a fascinating read.

A series of short essays loosely connected into broader topics it covers a range of subjects from the naming, and renaming, of species; though migration; local patch wildlife; the domestic dog; and the brown rat. I could go on but I won’t. Each chapter has the author’s personal take as well as his decades of experience as a naturalist and conservationist.

It’s a deep dive into some subjects in short reportage that at times I wished could be longer, but where the hook is set it takes you off to look up and read further.

It’s the perfect book for dipping into and also for sitting engrossed for a couple of hours. It covers some contentious topics – the section on conflicts is worth reading alone – so it’s not just about the nature that we might all see on a day to day basis or the more remote and rarer species where some effort is involved.

I’d recommend this to anyone with an interest in natural history, and dare I say it with Christmas just around the corner this would make a really nice present for someone with an interest in the topic.


From the Publisher

What does it mean to be a part of—rather than apart from—nature? This book is about how we interact with wildlife and the ways in which this can make our lives richer and more fulfilling. But it also explores the conflicts and contradictions inevitable in a world that is now so completely dominated by our own species.

Interest in wildlife and wild places, and their profound effects on human wellbeing, have increased sharply as we face up to the ongoing biodiversity extinction crisis and reassess our priorities following a global pandemic. Ian Carter, lifelong naturalist and a former bird specialist at Natural England, sets out to uncover the intricacies of the relationship between humans and nature. In a direct, down-to-earth style he explains some of the key practical, ethical and philosophical problems we must navigate as we seek to reconnect with nature.

This wide-ranging and infectiously personal account does not shy away from controversial subjects—such as how we handle invasive species, reintroductions, culling or dog ownership—and reveals in stark terms that properly addressing our connection to the natural world is an imperative, not a luxury.

Short, pithy chapters make this book ideal for dipping into. Meanwhile, it builds into a compelling whole as the story moves from considering the wildlife close to home through to conflicts and, finally, the joy and sense of escape that can be had in the wildest corners of our landscapes, where there is still so much to discover.

About the Author

Ian Carter took early retirement after twenty-five years as an ornithologist with Natural England. He was closely involved with the Red Kite reintroduction programme and wider work on the conservation of birds of prey, bird reintroductions and wildlife management. The cultural and philosophical aspects of nature conservation have always fascinated him, especially their influence on our attitudes towards the natural world. He has written articles for wildlife magazines including British Birds, British Wildlife and Birdwatch, and has co-authored papers in scientific journals. He wrote The Red Kite (Arlequin Press 2007) and, with Dan Powell, The Red Kite’s Year (Pelagic Publishing 2019), and has been on the Editorial Board of the journal British Birds for over twenty years. He keeps a wildlife diary and has written something in it (however dull) every day for over thirty-five years.


[Disclaimer: The publishers very kindly sent me a proof copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have received no payment for this review, and the thoughts are my own.]