Review: Conservation – A Beginner’s Guide.

In this age of unparalleled environmental change, the need to preserve our fauna and flora has never been so urgent.

Fortunately, the ceaseless erosion of nature is counterbalanced by the desire of people to do something about it.

This comprehensive guide provides a thought-provoking overview of modern conservation and how it works, including the strategies conservationists use to set their agendas, the science that underpins their work, and the ways in which it’s all financed.

Introducing cutting-edge approaches such as re-wilding and adaptive management, critiques of the cause from both inside and out, and likely future challenges, Conservation: A Beginner’s Guide aims to inspire and empower interested people everywhere to join the fight to save the natural world.

Paul Jepson started his career in urban conservation before moving to Asia to set up conservation programmes. He is Senior Research Fellow in Conservation Practice at the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford.

Richard Ladle spent 15 years teaching conservation and ecology at the University of Oxford and other UK universities. He now lives in Brazil and works as a science writer and conservation consultant.

This was first written for Small World, Big Cause in 2017, but bought to you fresh for The Curious Environmentalist in 2021. Enjoy!

“An amazing rich, readable, and insightful account of the conservation movement.” –
Jeffrey Sayer – Senior Scientific Advisor, International Union For Conservation of Nature.

“A thoughtful book about how and why we care about nature’s loss – and what we must do to prevent it.” – Stuart Pimm – Doris Duke Professor of Conservation, Duke University.

“Authoritative, succinct, and clearly written – this book is the perfect primer.” – Mark Cocker – author, naturalist, and regular contributor to “Country diary” in The Guardian.

Conservation: A Beginner’s Guide

This was one of the first books I bought when I decided to get involved with conservation. I thought it sounded perfect for giving me a foundation level of knowledge for the learning I was planning on following it up with… which was the case but I would say that a “beginners guide” is perhaps not the best description.

This book is a great foundation for building your knowledge. It gives an overview of peoples viewing on conservation and the trials that face conservationists on a global scale, it also outlines the origins of great conservation organisations which is really interesting. However, I felt that it did assume a level of knowledge and was at times a bit dense to make sense of what was going on. Saying this I did enjoy reading it, it is something that I would probably revisit further on down the line of my journey to see how much more I make sense of.

I think this book would be really useful in adding to your foundation of knowledge, rather than being what you build the foundation on. If you could do an introductory online course first then that would probably fit you with the relevant vocabulary that you need to comprehend this sort of literature. I would also recommend reading publications such as National Geographic to get a grasp on the lingo and gain an overview of what is happening around the globe – then read this book, because it is worth a read and it has some really interesting points to make. They also do other titles in the series such as “A Beginners Guide to Biodiversity” which I think will also be worth a read once you have found your feet within the conservation bubble.

UPDATE: Re-reading this review, now in 2021 – I will definitely be giving this book another read, now that I know more about conservation and I think I will have a better grasp on the topics that it has covered thanks to the work I have done studying towards my degree. I will report back!

Watch this space!

Do you have any book recommendations for those starting out on their environmental education or those who want to read up on conservation issues? Comment below so that we can encourage each other to keep learning and to stay curious!


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