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Scientist’s New Book Begs Question – What Do Brits Expect From their Countryside?

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As a scientist and outdoorsman, Brian Kerr has fallen in love with the natural Bedfordshire beauty that surrounds him. During the lockdown of 2020, Kerr was thrilled to see so many people in his local area also discover the sheer beauty and opportunities of the natural world.

At the same time, the author is acutely aware that a sea change is coming – led by issues such as climate change, rewilding, and new Government initiatives to protect the nation’s rural landscapes.

In his new book, he helps readers understand these changes, while learning how to continue to thrive from all the natural world has to offer.

At the beginning of 2020 there was a moment when we accepted the world needed to change; and then it did. During prolonged periods of lockdown, everyone in Britain was obliged to stay close to home. The importance of the outdoors and access to the countryside became more important than ever, and to a wider range of people. As we return to a ‘new normal’, the future of this vital green escape deserves scrutiny. The Government has promised a radical way forward in maintaining and enhancing our rural landscape, embarking on a new environmental ‘nature friendly’ approach. All future changes, though, are set against the backdrop of alarm over a climate emergency, and the continuing loss of wildlife. This book sets out to provide a guide to these topics in a non-technical way.  Will the pandemic accelerate these radical changes or push them into the background? What do we expect from the British countryside?  Is time running out?

There has never been a time when more people are curious about the countryside and how it’s changing, explains the author. There are both threats  and opportunities facing the countryside in the next decade. and Government agencies will face mounting pressure to intervene. This book provides a guide to how the public can both understand and influence the coming changes. This book firstly explores the main drivers of these changes, and then  takes a look at what the response might look like. In all, it’s a jargon-free resource for anyone concerned and curious about the natural world around them. Continuing, I really push readers to explore what they want from the countryside, and how this vision might be achieved in the most sustainable way possible. This is the beginning of a conversation about what we really want from the outdoors. I firmly believe that we can ultimately achieve balance, and I want others to join me in this exploration. I also want to point out how stunningly illustrated the book is. My goal was to bring the countryside and its issues alive, in a way that captivates people with curiosity but limited technical background.

Reviews have been extremely positive. One critic writes, “While many are aware of change and threats to the landscape, the issues often appear daunting and responses feeble, in the face of mounting pressure.   In this book the author unravels the complexity of these environmental issues and offers pointers towards achieving a balance in the British countryside. The book is written in a reader – friendly language and is well illustrated.”

‘How to Value a Skylark: The Countryside in a Time of Change’ is available to purchase now on Amazon.

Brian trained as a soil scientist and applied this knowledge of the environment to unravelling the landscape history of Bedfordshire. The first book, An Unassuming CountyThe Making of the Bedfordshire Countryside, published in 2014, is a readable account of the geology and landscape, which will be of interest to walkers, and those interested in nature conservation,  and the general public with an interest in the countryside. This publication was complemented by a second book, A Certain Degree of Magnificence: People in the Bedfordshire Landscape, published in 2019. This second publication traces the impact made by people on the landscape of the county and the author relates this to national events, such as the Norman Conquest, the Black Death, the 18th century enclosure of agricultural land, and the wars of the 20th century.

Brian previously worked as a consultant on soil and agricultural applications worldwide and during the past decade has engaged in land projects in the UK, Ireland, Rwanda, and Tanzania.  He presently holds a post as a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, UK, and is member of the Board for the Greensand Country Landscape Partnership, funded by the Heritage Lottery Foundation.

Brian’s books:

An Assuming CountyThe Making of the Bedfordshire Countryside, published in 2014.

A Certain Degree of Magnificence: People in the Bedfordshire Landscape, published in 2019.

How to Value a Skylark ~ The Countryside in a Time of Change, published in January 2021