This 276 page hardback isn’t something you’d be throwing in your rucksack before setting out into the great unknown.  However, leafing through its pages of beautiful photos and useful diagrams would mean that a few pages captured in a photo or photocopy to take with you as a visual aid would be well worth the effort.

j10340This is a well-structured, well supported read.  Using diagrams, photos and well laid-out text, the book takes you through the 64 recognised habitats of the British Landscape.  Each is set out in the same format focusing on origins and development, conservation, key species to look for, how to recognise, best months to visit and similar habitats.  A brief introduction also introduces us to the history of each habitat, soil content where relevant and common human interactions and effects of these spaces.  Well-chosen photos and a geographical distribution map ensure that these pages are easy and attractive to digest.  The descriptions are easy to follow and written in a way that both informs and tempts you out in search of ditches, raised bogs and upland acid grassland.  I particularly liked the landscape photos which show the merging habitats from a distance, clearly putting into context the stew pot of ecology in an effective visual format. I  also enjoyed the addition to some habitat pages that takes a closer look at aspects such as adaptations found in scrub, focusing on heather in heathland habitats and the cultural importance of mountains.  These occasional additions provide a real texture and create a really cross curricular book of interest.

This is a vibrant, well produced reference book.  As a result I think it could merit some use in the classroom.  The photos of landscapes which pick out various habitats across a mountain side or valley floor are particularly useful and could be used as a nice comparative to the often used rainforest vegetation levels to galvanise those discussions on geographical characteristics in KS2.  Picking out the odd page or diagram could also prove a useful reference during field-trips at any stage of education as their clarity and simplicity means that they are easily accessible and useful to all.

Hannah Jones McVey

Britain’s Habitats – A guide to the wildlife habitats of Britain and Ireland. Sophie Lake, Durwyn Liley, Robert Still & Andy Swash; ISBN: 978-0-691-15855-6; Princeton University Press, 2014; pp 272; £22.

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