A positive future for rural life now wrapped up ‘online’

Countryside enthusiasts will be heartened to read an evocative on-line book that describes the trials and tribulations of a small rural community in Leicestershire over the past eighty years. Called “Exploring a Productive Landscape”, and published by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, this remarkable publication is packed with a priceless collection of amusing and beguiling anecdotes on countryside life in the 1930s complemented by many colour images, fascinating old farming photographs and maps.
An important feature of this very readable account is that it shows how we can learn huge lessons from the past to protect and enhance this precious resource for the benefit of future local communities, wildlife and the landscape.  Originally published in hardback but now available to all on-line, the book has already received much acclaim from leading politicians and commentators (2) as it offers a glimmer of hope to those that fear we are in danger of losing many of our most cherished features of the countryside through climate change, increasing populations and a depletion of our natural resources.

Published by leading research charity, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Exploring a Productive Landscape, vividly explores the history of this small stream catchment community and shows how our rural landscapes have been shaped by the changing needs of countless generations.  It underlines the huge demands that are now being made on our countryside to provide food, water, and fuel.

Cart HorsesDespite these pressures, the book takes a fresh and optimistic approach and shows that we can learn from this historical knowledge to make contemporary land management decisions that balance the need to feed people while sustaining wildlife conservation and a healthy environment.

The book, which forms part of a larger four-year research project led by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust on farmland surrounding  the Eye Brook stream in Leicestershire was written by  Dr Chris Stoate, head of research at the GWCT’s Allerton Project research farm.

Dr Stoate said, “The book was written and researched in conjunction with several members of the Eye Brook valley community and clearly demonstrates how the local community is central to future policy decisions. Originally regarded as ahead of its time, the book now has considerable resonance with emerging government policy for catchment management, water quality improvement, community involvement, landscape scale wildlife conservation, and the functional support wildlife provides for us all.”

To view the online edition of Exploring a Productive Landscape, please click on: www.gwct.org.uk/eyebrookbook.   To obtain a hard copy, which is supported by Heritage lottery funding, and costs £10 plus p & p, please visit the GWCT’s online shop at : www.gwct.org.uk/buyeyebrookbook.  Or telephone Natalie Augusztini on 01572 717220.  Proceeds from the book will be used to continue to develop the catchment community’s project work.