Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Portrait of a Woodland

By Charlotte de la Bedoyere

   This is the story of a wood, and a celebration of biodiversity. At this critical time in Earth’s history when wild space is at a premium, and we are more used to parks than real nature, this lavishly illustrated and lovely book will show you what a woodland ought to look like. The author has turned the forty acres of ancient woodland she owns into a conservation area, and over twenty-five years shows how it has evolved from a neglected and “invaded” place into a somewhere that native species flourish. It is also a place where the evils of chemical pesticides and other scourges have been eliminated, and more nature-friendly alternatives used instead.

     The woodland is divided up into eleven separate woods, each different and each self-supporting. After a brief history of the area (which turned up some surprises) each wood is described briefly, together with some information about what had to be removed. These include rhododendrons, various conifers, and other non-native species we are too used to thinking belong in a woodland in England, along with battles against smaller pests. It is a heartening tale, showing how one person can put right many years of cumulative wrongs and create a piece of real wild nature that encourages native species and does the environment good instead of harm. The bulk of the book is taken up with a chapter about the diversity, and lists of mammals, birds, insects, trees, plants etc. These lists are profusely illustrated, and tell the reader whether a species is native or not (mostly the former), what wood it is found in and in what abundance. Too many are species that I have never seen, and only know from pictures in books.

      The author says that she hopes the book’s lovely photographs will “entrap you into conserving our biodiversity” and this, together with the text make up into one very impressive book. At the end of reading it I felt that I would have liked it to have been longer—a rarity for this reviewer—and still had lots of questions left that photographs don’t answer. Surely this is all to the good though, and shows that the author has accomplished what she set out to do. At the back, other books by Ms de la Bedoyere are listed which will answer many queries. Inspiring, beautiful, and your coffee table looks nude without it—one to keep and treasure.

The Book

Search Press
November 2004
More at Amazon.UK 



The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2005
© 2005