Wainwright Prize 2020

Enormous congratulations to Dara McAnulty for winning the Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing this week with his book Diary of a Young Naturalist and to Benedict Macdonald for winning the Global Conservation Prize with Rebirding. I’m deeply honoured and delighted that Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save our Wild Places was Highly Commended for the Writing on Global Conservation Prize category. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful award.

Just as importantly, this inaugural conservation prize – going right back to the announcement of the fantastic longlist – has provided a vital platform for a wide range of compelling stories about conservation, climate change, biodiversity loss and ecological restoration to not only reach new readers but to raise awareness about these critical issues we currently face. Stories that ultimately affect us all. From the preservation of clean waters and air that we absolutely rely on, to efforts to restore the natural abundance of wild species for their inherent right to flourish into the future on this planet we all share; from an examination of our food systems to an exploration of communities living alongside thriving habitats in respectful relationship. Stories that recognise loss, extinction and disconnection, but hold beauty, wonder, ethics and hope at their heart.

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Over the course of the several years that it took to write Irreplaceable, I had the opportunity to spend time with everyday individuals and communities in various parts of the world fighting to protect a place or wild species from destruction, from a meadow in Glasgow to the jungles of India, and from a coral reef in Indonesia to the sweeping tallgrass prairies of the United States. And wherever I went, I saw how our emotional attachments to the natural world can be profoundly protective in character, enabling us to enlarge our idea of home so that it includes the more-than-human in its embrace. To bring the living world within range of the heart. Loss needn’t be what the natural world seems to be increasingly made of, because we carry within us the potent capacity for radical hopefulness and transformative, positive change.

My deepest thanks to all those who have shared their stories of connection and resistance with me; without you, this book simply wouldn’t exist. Your courage, commitment, passion and persistence have been truly inspiring. The places and species you are fighting to save enrich us all.

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I’d like to end with a special thank you to Dara McAnulty. He was the star of Tuesday evening’s Wainwright Prize ceremony, in that, at the age of 16, this young man is not only the youngest ever recipient of the award but he’s helped open up a more inclusive, diverse and exciting future for the nature writing genre. A future where a variety of voices need not only to be heard but to be heeded if we’re to collectively find ways of charting a transformative and hopeful course through the varied environmental crises we face. I would encourage you all to go out and read his magnificent book.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/456109253″>Dara McAnulty Acceptance Speech</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/agileideas”>Agile</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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