Book Review- Our Place by Mark Cocker, Jonathan Cape 2018. Hardback/Kindle.

A review by Nick Brown, Wildlife Enquiries Officer.

Mark Cocker grew up in Derbyshire. The hills around Buxton were his childhood playground and where he began to engage with nature.

This, his ninth book, is by far the most important and it has received high praise from all quarters. Mark discusses his Derbyshire childhood links with nature and those at a few other pivotal sites in the UK.

Not only does he write with astonishing skill and flair, it’s clear that he has researched this book very thoroughly.

For anyone interested in the way that nature conservation has developed in the UK, where it has succeeded and where it has failed, Our Place lucidly examines its politics and some of the key battles.

He compares and contrasts the National Trust, the Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB as the three biggest NGOs. To anyone working for or belonging to one or other of these, this is essential reading if you want to understand how each has evolved and how they differ.

Our Place book review Mark Cocker

Our Place book review Mark Cocker

In the context of the deepening crisis that wildlife is in, understanding the role of these and other organisations, especially Natural England and how it has been changed from its original Nature Conservancy days, is enlightening, important and saddening too.

Charting a way forward can’t really be undertaken without a clear understanding of the past – and Cocker provides us with exactly what we need in order to see the wood from the trees as we try to see how to build hope for the future of wildlife in this country.

The book is easy to read and avoids jargon so don’t be put off if you don’t know what a SAC or an AONB is!

I heartily recommend this book which, with Wilding by Isabella Tree (reviewed here) are the two stand out books not only of the year but almost certainly of the decade.