Book review: ‘The Unofficial Countryside’ by Richard Mabey

How nature can sometimes thrive in man-made environments.

The Unofficial CountrysideThis reissue of a Mabey classic celebrates how nature can be found thriving in the margins of man-made environments: sewage works, drainage ditches, deserted 'brown field' sites, pretty much anywhere.

It's a heartening antidote to the usual doom and gloom about how the natural world is being wiped out by the excesses of Homo sapiens. Given half a chance, nature will exploit any new niche we unintentionally create for it.

The book certainly rang bells for me. Most days at work, I take a lunchbreak in Liverpool's dockland, which contains numerous, unofficial wild patches. It might not be the first place you would think of to go looking for nature, but, in the heart of a city, beggars can't be choosers. And I more often than not spot something or other to excite my interest.

Goldfinch on wasteland near Liverpool Marina
A goldfinch spotted during a lunch break near Liverpool Marina.

Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks
Buy my book: On the Moor: Science, History and Nature on a Country Walk
…wonderful. Science and history and geography and evolution and culture all tangled up in musings while walking about the moors around Hebden Bridge.”—PZ Myers
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