THE 2018 ROYAL HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLIN MATTHEW MEMORIAL LECTURE
We often think of the British countryside as 'natural' but it is anything but. Not only its fields and hedges, but also its woods, heaths, moors, and fens are largely the product of human activities - of complex systems of management, changing over the centuries. Historians thus have a vital role in nature conservation.
We need to understand the specific processes that created habitats in order to ensure their survival into the future. But we also need to interrogate ideas about 'the natural' more generally - for many current problems in conservation are a direct consequence of a failure to appreciate the essentially human character of the environment.