The Unofficial Countryside

by Richard Mabey.

How nature can sometimes thrive in man-made environments.

The Unofficial Countryside

This 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 lunchbreak near Liverpool Marina.

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