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Postcards and boxes

I sit on the couch and time contractions. In the space of an hour they have gotten so close together and so intense, too intense to walk or talk through, that I decide to call the hospital. I explain to the nurse that the contractions are every five minutes. She asks me, on a scale …

I came late to a love of birds

I came late to a love of birds. So admits J.A. Baker in the opening of his book The Peregrine. It’s a strange thing to admit just seven paragraphs in to a book about a bird. Perhaps he was pre-empting his critics who accused him of making up parts of the book or of misidentifying the peregrine, …

Shopping centres, caves and the fate of us all

If you leave Nottingham train station and head towards the centre of the city, you will eventually come up against a large brown wall barricading the city. Actually it is the backside, or front (it’s hard to tell), of a shopping centre called Broadmarsh. Like a museum gift shop, the only way is through. I …

The Key to the SDGs: Conserving and Restoring Wetlands

Agreed upon in a flurry of optimism in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ambitiously promise a fair and just world for people and the environment. We were one of the organisations feeling optimistic as the SDGs were agreed upon – wetlands are mentioned in two of the targets and they are relevant to at …

Time travel with wetlands

If we could travel back in time, to the year 1900, 65% of all wetlands in the world would not yet have been lost. We would have better flood control, fewer droughts, clean water, less carbon emissions, plentiful food and fish and beautiful nature. It might not be possible to go back in time, but …

Carrying the wild home

This weekend my boyfriend and I went on a walk, as we have done so many times before, time enough to have lost count, if we ever started counting at all. Sometimes these walks take us into the city to explore its streets and shops and hidden spaces, but today I feel the pull of …

All the wild horses

Last September, at the tail end of a long summer, I had the opportunity to take part in a guided visit to the Oostvaardersplassen, a 6,000-hectare nature reserve to the east of Amsterdam. What made this opportunity unique is that nature is largely left to its own devices at the Oostvaardersplassen. Although the area is …

An America for every season

When I think of America, I think of the heat of a New England summer. The way you don’t spend time outdoors, but move from one air-conditioned building to another. The way you lie on the floor with your arms and legs outstretched or sleep the afternoon away. I think of the heat of the …

In search of the perseids

Despite the fact that it is the middle of August, I dig out my winter coat from the closet. In its midst, summer seemed like a fixed state. It was hard to imagine that there would ever be anything but heat and light. That there would ever be anything but birds flitting between the hedges …

On the benefits of urban monomania

“The lover of nature is he … who has retained the spirit of infancy even in the era of manhood.” If Emerson is right, then perhaps that is why, beyond reasons of necessity and circumstance, I have ended up writing about urban nature. I grew up in Manchester and spent as much time as I …