Nature on the doorstep

27th June 1997 at 01:00
CONSERVATION IN BRITAIN - AN ILLUSTRATED RESOURCE. By W R Pickering. Willmot Pertwee Conservation Trust Pounds 11.95 (Pounds 5.95 to schools and colleges). Lodge Lane, Langham, Colchester, Essex, CO4 5NE

The media is full of concern for the environment, but environmental issues receive short shrift in a curriculum more geared to meet the needs of industry and business.

As the frontispiece of this book emphasises, much of what is currently published on the subject is simplistic and based on case studies in the developing world. Environmental degradation is something that is happening elsewhere, caused by poor, mainly non-white people and of little concern to the average British student. There is also an emphasis on developing appropriate "environmental attitudes and values" at the expense of knowledge and understanding.

This book takes a different approach. First, examples of real life conservation projects in the British Isles are used throughout, such as the management of industrial wasteland at the RSPB reserve at Dungeness and barn owl conservation.

Second, the case studies are integrated with a high quality text which presents the biological and geographical principles underpinning wildlife conservation. The geographical concept of humans as settlers, and the impact this has had on the British landscape, is introduced at the beginning of the book, together with the biological concepts of succession and climax in plant communities.

These ideas are used in the first section of the book, together with case studies and suggestions for practical work to help students understand that conservation is, ultimately, a compromise between competing demands for land use.

The book may be in black and white, but the picture of wildlife conservation it presents is not. The author has produced an excellent resource for teachers to use with secondary school students of all ages which will help them to develop a sophisticated understanding of the issues involved in wildlife conservation in Britain. The text is well written, interesting and accessible.

I will certainly recommend it to the beginning teachers I work with.

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