Miriam Darlington at The Guardian:
There is a venerable tradition of literature about the lines humans have created in the British landscape. Alfred Watkins’s The Old Straight Track, Francis Hitching’s Earth Magic, Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways and a plethora of natural histories and hedgerow-seeking illuminations – recently John Wright’s The Natural History of the Hedgerow. All are fascinated with fragmentation and connection, and infused with the joys and conundrums we layer on our land with our human footfall. In Linescapes, Hugh Warwick provides a good-humoured, even visionary, perspective on the fragile ecology of our hedges, roads, power lines and railways. Often opting for the hedgehog’s-eye view (his first book, A Prickly Affair, declared his passion for this important indicator species), he reveals how the man-made lines in our landscape present a paradox. They were originally put there to fragment, assert ownership or to restrain livestock, yet over time their edges and intricacies have provided opportunities for adaptable wildlife to flourish. Walls sympathetic to wildlife can contribute to its recovery, sometimes “very slowly, as lichens inch to the corners of the compass. Sometimes with the sneaky speed of a stoat on a mission.”
While we have lost 98% of our wildflower meadows and 50% of our ancient woodland in the last 100 years, Warwick asks us to shift our sightline away from ugliness and ruination towards the potential of new habitats. “Connection is what we need, and what nature needs if we are to tackle the global collapse of species,” he argues.