Dawning of a new golden age

Brimstone moth

We owe a debt to the natural history diarists of the past, from Gilbert White, whose observations and discoveries were set out in The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, to writers like Dorothy Wordsworth and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Indeed, the 18th and 19th centuries saw a golden age of nature writing, with the diary a popular way both of recording scientific information, and celebrating nature through literary endeavour.

The diary form is enjoying a revival in cyberspace. I recently came across a site dedicated to natural history blogging in the British Isles. The UK and Eire Natural History Bloggers site has links to dozens of blogs that show nature diaries are very much alive today. Blogs are so immediate, so easily shared with others, and lend themselves to that unique, personal take on the world around you.

It’s great to see such an appetite for enjoying and discovering nature, and for writing about it; it makes me wonder if this is the dawning of a new golden age of nature writing. The enthusiasm of individuals can be a powerful force in raising awareness, and in building a bank of knowledge and data. 

If you’re a closet nature diarist, you could add your blog to the list to share with others. Or let us know if you are aware of other sites that bring together natural history blogs in this way. These blogs are our natural history archives of the future. My only worry is whether they will stand the test of time in this transient world. What do you think?

Sian Atkinson, Conservation Communications & Evidence Adviser


About Kay Haw

Assistant Conservation Adviser, Woodland Trust. Nature is my passion, especially woods and trees which are just amazing elements of life. One day (soon) I hope we humans learn to work in harmony with Mother Earth.
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5 Responses to Dawning of a new golden age

  1. Finn Holding says:

    I think in the information age blogs will continue to evolve and even more like-minded naturalists will add their observations to the burgeoning data pool. It will get easier, not more difficult.

    What is important now is for, as you say above, the enthusiasm of individuals to become the force to raise awareness of the natural world and the peril it is currently in as a result of human activities. And consequently the peril we, as a species, are in.

    It seems to me that if the energies of all conservation organisations such as the Woodland Trust, RSPB, National Trust, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust etc. etc. and all the interested nature lovers such as myself could be harnessed it would constitute a very powerful force for nature and the national good.

    Any ideas how this ambition could be realised?

    • Finn Holding says:

      I meant to say ‘harnessed under an umbrella organisation to focus efforts and provide a coordinated force for conservation’. All the organisations have critical mass in their own right, imagine what they could do if they all their experience, expertise and financial wherewithal acted together!

  2. thehutts says:

    Blogs should be more accessible than diaries – diaries can sit on shelves and never get read by anyone or destroyed by a freak flooding/fire events! Sally

  3. gold price says:

    MacGillivray progressed through his dedication to his work, gaining experience and honing his skills. In 1823 he became assistant to the professor of natural history at Edinburgh University. Later, the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh appointed him curator of their museum. In 1841 his talents were recognised when he secured the position of professor of natural history at Marischal College, Aberdeen. Here he transformed the way students were taught by taking them out into the wild and inspiring them with his passion for nature.

  4. Roman Poadiouk says:

    Diaries reflecting the nature will remain usefull as long as humans exist on the planet. The Nature is constantly changing and our notes should constantly portray this.

Sorry, comments are closed as we have moved to a new site: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blogs/woodland-trust/

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