by Richard Mabey.
Non-sentimental nature writing at its best.
Richard Mabey is perhaps Britain's top nature writer. But you won't find any of the twee sentimentality which can plague the genre in Mabey's work. He cares passionately about the natural world, but he's a pragmatist, not a tree-hugger.
Beechcombings is a strange but enjoyable book about trees in general, and Mabey's beloved beeches in particular. In a well-researched, pleasantly meandering volume, he explains how trees have been used and abused by mankind over the centuries, how they struggle amongst themselves and against the forces of nature, and how, ultimately, they are perfectly capable of getting by on their own—often despite the well-meaning interference of conservationists and woodland managers.
Conservationism needs more pragmatic voices like Mabey's. Long may he continue to write.