I’m deeply honoured and utterly thrilled to learn that Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save our Wild Places has been shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation. Congratulations to all the fantastic finalists, and enormous gratitude to those people – in various parts of the world – who shared their vital stories of nature, place and connection with me for the book. The full shortlists for both the Nature Writing and Global Conservation categories can be found via the links. And for anyone interested, the first chapter of Irreplaceable has been posted on the Wainwright Prize website and the book’s Introduction can be read here.
It was a real pleasure to be interviewed about Irreplaceable in light of the shortlisting for the wonderful Elsewhere: A Journal of Place. The full interview can be read here, where we talk about the origins of the book, loss of place and restitution, rewilding and radical hopefulness.
Elsewhere: In a book like yours, where the situation can so often seem desperate, it can be hard to find hope. But I found Irreplaceable extremely hopeful even if not every struggle will be successful. Did you feel hopeful after writing this book and how do you feel now?
JH: I remember right back at the beginning, just after experiencing the Hoo Peninsula in 2013, wondering where the trajectory of the book would take me. Would it be a deep dive into grief, or an angry rant about the destructive power of capitalism? Would it be an elegy, or a tome of hopelessness? I really had no idea back then how the journey would unfold, but it didn’t take long to witness and recognise the enormous potential and capacity for positive action when people stand up for what’s right. When people work in cohesion on behalf of something bigger than themselves, uniting around an idea, a place, a wild species. This is what I came to call radical hopefulness. When the word hope is understood not in a passive context, which is what we all commonly do, but as an active verb. A verb that makes change possible solely by acting on it. So, yes, I remain hopeful, in the sense that I experienced what is not only possible on my journeys but actively happening in communities throughout the world right now. During the dark days, these are the stories I hang on to.