Review of ‘Ian On The Wild Side’ (of Sheffield and the Peak District), by Ian Rotherham

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

of Sheffield and the Peak District

by Ian Rotherham
Published by Wildtrack Publishing
ISBN 978-1-904098-13-3 (2009)

'A chuckly, generous enthusiast who wants a better world, and wants other people to want it with him.' Thus radio broadcaster Rony Robinson describes ecologist and landscape historian Ian Rotherham. This new title from Ian is as pleasurable to read as it is enlightening, a voice of optimism where despair could easily win the day.

Growing up in a then dirty and polluted Sheffield, Ian developed a young dismay that 'humanity should do this to itself and to nature.' In adulthood, he has come to believe that today's ecological problems are rooted in the 1700s, when the commons began to be stolen from the commoners in favour of a 'fat cat' society. So who is to blame?

Ian Rotherham is no gloomy finger-wagger but does not mince his words where criticism is due. His chapter on 'Stealing the environment from the next generation' reveals one of several truly shameful episodes where protective measures have been circumvented, resulting in an irreplaceable loss to present and future generations. Other concerns range from industrial pollution to 'aliens'.

Yet his optimism for preservation of 'the wild side' is nurtured by observations of the rare Peregrine falcon nesting on a cooling tower; sightings of dippers right in the middle of Sheffield; an urban otter in a river once biologically dead; and a thriving wild bird garden on the edge of the Peak District moors ... not to mention the chirpy bird with 'an attitude problem'.

As Reader at Sheffield Hallam University's Tourism and Environmental Change Research Unit, Ian Rotherham writes to inspire and involve - individual actions and conservation projects can make a massive difference. His concluding chapter is a celebration of Sheffield and the Peak throughout the Seasons. Preceded by a useful tip involving Marmite, it also advises on deflecting pointless conversations, surprises us with a favourite wild flower and names a herb 'that helpeth the brain.'

Generously illustrated in colour throughout.

Review by Julie Bunting

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