The best nature conservation books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about nature conservation and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection

This book exposes the troubling roots of the American conservation movement and explores how racism continues to keep people out of our public spaces. I’d consider it an illuminating must-read for anyone who loves this planet and its people and wants to usher us into a more inclusive era of outdoor exploration.

The Rise of the American Conservation Movement

By Dorceta E. Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rise of the American Conservation Movement as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this sweeping social history Dorceta E. Taylor examines the emergence and rise of the multifaceted U.S. conservation movement from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century. She shows how race, class, and gender influenced every aspect of the movement, including the establishment of parks; campaigns to protect wild game, birds, and fish; forest conservation; outdoor recreation; and the movement's links to nineteenth-century ideologies. Initially led by white urban elites-whose early efforts discriminated against the lower class and were often tied up with slavery and the appropriation of Native lands-the movement benefited from contributions to policy making, knowledge about the…

Who am I?

As a journalist who explores the intersection of human health and planet health, I've long been fascinated by how stepping outside into a healthy environment can boost our well-being. I also believe that we are more likely to take positive climate actions when we have a rich connection to the natural world around us, so a lot of my work focuses on helping people get out into nature—whatever that looks like for them.


I wrote...

Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us

By Emma Loewe,

Book cover of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us

What is my book about?

Return To Nature explores how eight distinct landscapes impact our mental and physical health: grasslands, deserts, forests, mountains, oceans, rivers, icy terrain, and cities. The book weaves together new research and ancient knowledge on how every inch of the natural world can be a salve for the stress, anxiety, and burnout of today’s age. Over the course of this landscape-to-landscape guide, you’ll pick up fresh ideas on how to restore yourself in the nature around you—be it a sprawling forest or a row of street trees. You’ll also learn about meaningful actions we can all take to give back to the landscapes that give so much to us.

Book cover of Song for the Blue Ocean

New York Times bestselling author and ecologist Carl Safina writes about the oceans and their inhabitants with beautiful and elegant prose, and this book is not different. Song for the Blue Ocean takes the readers on a passionate and intimate journey of discovery; Safina is a master in revealing the magnificence and the secrets of the ocean realm using his personal experiences in nature.

Song for the Blue Ocean

By Carl Safina,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Song for the Blue Ocean as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sounding a warning about the decline of the world's marine resources due to commercial fishing and other causes, this book considers the imminent extinction of some species.

Who am I?

I'm a passionate scientist, conservationist, and published author. I'm the President of the nonprofit Ocean Conservation Society and I hold a Ph.D. in Biology and a Post-Doc from UCLA. My research on dolphins off California represents one of the longest studies worldwide. I'm the co-author of Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins and author of Dolphin Confidential: Confessions of a Field Biologist. As a photo-journalist, I've written for many national and international media, including National Geographic; I currently write essays for Medium and other publications. I live in Los Angeles with my husband. When I’m not writing, I can be found with dolphins out on the ocean, traveling, or walking my mutt.


I wrote...

Dolphin Confidential: Confessions of a Field Biologist

By Maddalena Bearzi,

Book cover of Dolphin Confidential: Confessions of a Field Biologist

What is my book about?

“This is a delightful chronicle of a young ocean lover’s journey to turn her passion into a career in science, and that scientist’s coming-of-age as she observes an ocean changing around her and the creatures she has come to love and defend. I found it both relaxing and energizing, all at the same time.” Carl Safina, New York Times bestselling author

A Boy and a Jaguar

By Alan Rabinowitz, Catia Chien (illustrator),

Book cover of A Boy and a Jaguar

I’m a cat person (please don’t tell my dog). Therefore I was naturally drawn to a book by Dr. Alan Rabinowitz—a zoologist who dedicated his life to protecting the world’s wild cat species. But while young readers might pick up this book because they are cat lovers or intrigued by jaguars, they’ll discover so much more. This is the true story about a boy with a stutter and how he finds his voice by talking to jaguars. Later, he returns the favor by using his voice to advocate for big-cat conservation. Beautifully illustrated by Catia Chien, this memoir shows what it means to keep a promise and how pursuing your passion can help you overcome obstacles. The back matter includes an interesting Q&A with Dr. Rabinowitz.

A Boy and a Jaguar

By Alan Rabinowitz, Catia Chien (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Boy and a Jaguar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2015 Schneider Family Book Award Winner
* "A candid and deeply resonant account of a hard-fought battle against societal stigma, and an embrace of one's true talent and calling." —Publisher's Weekly, starred review

Speaking for the animals he loves gives one boy’s life hope, purpose, and truth in this gorgeous picture book autobiography.

Alan loves animals, but the great cat house at the Bronx Zoo makes him sad. Why are they all alone in empty cages? Are they being punished? More than anything, he wants to be their champion—their voice—but he stutters uncontrollably.

Except when he talks to animals…then he…

Who am I?

I write picture-book biographies and my latest book focuses on the first giraffologist, Dr. Anne Innis Dagg. While researching this book, I learned about so many people who have dedicated their lives to studying and protecting animals. Almost always, their love of wildlife began in childhood. So why not inspire young animal lovers today with true stories about people who share their passion for wildlife?


I wrote...

Anne and Her Tower of Giraffes

By Karlin Gray,

Book cover of Anne and Her Tower of Giraffes

What is my book about?

At four years old, Anne saw her first giraffe and never stopped thinking about it. Her desire to study the world's tallest animal followed her from preschool to graduate school, from Canada to South Africa. And often, people laughed at her quest. But by following her love of giraffes, Dr. Anne Innis Dagg became a pioneer—the first scientist to study animal behavior in Africa.

Illustrated by Aparna Varma, Anne and Her Tower of Giraffes is a picture-book biography that celebrates the adventures of Dr. Dagg, the beauty of giraffes, and the power of persistence. 

Against Extinction

By William Bill Adams,

Book cover of Against Extinction: The Story of Conservation

A conservation classic, Against Extinction is a comprehensive and absorbing story of conservation over the last hundred years. Bill Adams explores the history, context, and legacy of conservation. Often quoted as the ‘UK voice of conservation’ Bill Adams, Professor of Conservation and Development in the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge, is an authoritative writer on this critical global tale. 

Meeting Professor Adams in discussion for my own research has been both insightful and deeply interesting. His reflections on this evolving movement are poignant and for me, so helpful in framing and distilling the words of my picture book conservation stories.

Against Extinction

By William Bill Adams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Against Extinction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Conservation in the 21st century needs to be different and this book is a good indicator of why' Bulletin of British Ecological Society. Against Extinction tells the history of wildlife conservation from its roots in the 19th century, through the foundation of the Society for the Preservation of the Wild Fauna of the Empire in London in 1903 to the huge and diverse international movement of the present day. It vividly portrays conservation's legacy of big game hunting, the battles for the establishment of national parks, the global importance of species conservation and debates over the sustainable use of and…


Who am I?

I write picture books about nature to inspire curiosity and care for our planet. I have been writing about wildlife conservation and particularly endangered species since studying ecology, campaigning with Greenpeace, and working with the Natural History Museum in London. Now as a full-time author, I have an extraordinary opportunity to learn through experience and in conversation with scientists, teachers, and children about how best to tell this ever more urgent, evolving story. The statement "Ecology? Look it up! You’re involved" writ large in 1969 by the first Greenpeace campaigners on billboards around Vancouver, still says it all for me.  


I wrote...

Red Alert! 15 Endangered Animals Fighting to Survive

By Catherine Barr,

Book cover of Red Alert! 15 Endangered Animals Fighting to Survive

What is my book about?

Writing this book introduced me to the plight of pangolins, the elegant beauty of lumpy nosed gharials, and the dazzling colours of the peacock tarantula. With the generous help of Head of IUCN RedList Craig Hilton-Tailor, I narrowed 100,000 species on the Red List of threatened species down to just 15.

In school visits, the stories of this diverse group of endangered creatures have gripped the imagination of hundreds of school children. Researching the book has ignited my friendship with scientists and inspiring conservations around the world. I am grateful to Anne Wilson for her vibrant illustrations and pangolin drawing tutorials that have transfixed so many hushed school halls, with children’s pencils poised.

The Last Elephants

By Don Pinnock, Colin Bell,

Book cover of The Last Elephants

This is one of the most comprehensive books on African elephants I have ever read. It covers a huge variety of topics and is a compilation of stories and studies from a collection of authors, conservationists, and scientists. I particularly like the mixture of personal stories and scientific information. An absolute “must-read” for anyone with a deep interest in elephants and a desire to get involved in their conservation.

The Last Elephants

By Don Pinnock, Colin Bell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Elephants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Africa-wide Great Elephant Census of 2016 produced shocking findings: a decimated elephant population whose numbers were continuing to plummet. Elephants are killed, on average, every 15-20 minutes - a situation that will see the final demise of these intelligent, extraordinary animals in less than three decades. They are a species in crisis.

This magnificent book offers chapters written by the most prominent people in the realm of conservation and wildlife, among them researchers, conservationists, filmmakers, criminologists, TV personalities and journalists.

Photographs have been selected from among the world's best wildlife photographers, and the passionate Foreword is provided by Prince…

Who am I?

I've had a life-long passion for birds and African wildlife that developed from a very early age, spending countless hours on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. At various times I've had a totally compulsive obsession for birds and have chased rare and endangered birds around the planet for my long-standing TV series Nikon’s Birding Adventures TV. My love for elephants is equally as strong and I produced an award-winning conservation film in 2018 entitled Last of the Big Tuskers that features the plight of the world’s last remaining 20 or so super-tusker elephants. I'm a conservation fanatic and love exploring the links between local people and wildlife.


I wrote...

When Eagles Roar: The Amazing Journey of an African Wildlife Adventurer

By James Alexander Currie, Bonnie J. Fladung, Margo Gabrielle Damian (illustrator)

Book cover of When Eagles Roar: The Amazing Journey of an African Wildlife Adventurer

What is my book about?

This is a riveting African adventure story told with passion and charm. But as the Zulus say, “There is no river without a shade.” Follow the daring safari of James Currie as his love of birds, fascination with wildlife, and craving for adventure lead him into humorous and life-threatening situations. James captures the essence of what it means to be African today, facing everything from the Big Five to the vestiges of apartheid to the AIDS epidemic. He provides authoritative information on African wildlife and illustrates hair-raising encounters with lions, buffalo, leopards, elephants, rhinoceros, and snakes through exciting and humorous stories.

Orison for a Curlew

By Horatio Clare,

Book cover of Orison for a Curlew: In Search for a Bird on the Edge of Extinction

Clare is another consummate wordsmith – he even managed to write an engaging book about spending months on container ships – but with Orison he manages to weave a fascinating story using beautiful prose and superb writing to bring intelligent discussions and good research to life while introducing us to key conservation personalities he meets during his journeys.
Clare sets out to search for the highly endangered and secretive slender-billed curlew in a range of wetlands in a troubled Eastern Europe and discovers inspiring if sometimes eccentric movers and shakers devoted to saving our wild places.
And how about this for a profound final sentence in a book: ‘Too much certainty is a miserable thing, while the unknowable has a pristine beauty and a wonder with no end.’

Orison for a Curlew

By Horatio Clare,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Orison for a Curlew as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Slender-billed Curlew, Numenius tenuirostris, 'the slim beak of the new moon', is one of the world's rarest birds. It once bred in Siberia and wintered in the Mediterranean basin, passing through the wetlands and estuaries of Italy, Greece, the Balkans and Central Asia. Today the Slender-billed Curlew exists as a rumour, a ghost species surrounded by unconfirmed sightings and speculation. The only certainty is that it now stands on the brink of extinction. Birds are key environmental indicators. Their health or hardship has a message for us about the planet, and our future. What does the fate of the…

Who am I?

I put my hand where I couldn’t see it and was repaid for my foolishness by a scorpion sting. I was the doctor on an expedition to Madagascar and my friends thought their doctor was going to die. I was already fascinated with the ways animals interact with humans and this incident brought such reactions into sharp focus. Working as a physician in England, Nepal, and elsewhere, I’ve collected stories about ‘creepy crawlies’, parasites, and chance meetings between people and wildlife. Weird, wonderful creatures and wild places have always been my sources of solace and distraction from the challenging life of a working doctor and watching animals has taught me how to reassure and work with scared paediatric patients.


I wrote...

Book cover of A Glimpse of Eternal Snows: A Journey of Love and Loss in the Himalayas

What is my book about?

The book that has my heart and soul in it is A Glimpse of Eternal Snows. It describes a couple of years when we – as a family – moved to an island in Nepal with no road access and no electricity in the middle of the largest tributary of the River Ganges where visitors might include hornbills, rhino, elephant, or even a tiger.

While my husband led a team of engineers intend on preventing floods during the monsoon, I tried to set up a programme of health promotion aiming to reduce deaths due to rabies while as well caring for our two young children. Our second son was born with life-limiting health problems; we’d fled from high-tech medical care in the UK so that he wouldn’t be put through unnecessary and painful operations and medical treatments. Our Nepali friends and neighbours taught us to live for the present and accept what life had flung at us, and our troubled child thrived and was a joyful presence in our remote little village.

Counting Birds

By Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Clover Robin (illustrator),

Book cover of Counting Birds: The Idea That Helped Save Our Feathered Friends

Believe it or not, a long time ago hunters would go out on Christmas day and shoot as many birds as they could. I know! What an awful tradition! Yikes! Fortunately, Frank Chapman thought it was awful, too. This book shows how he campaigned for bird lovers to count birds rather than shoot them. 

Today, millions of people participate in the Christmas Bird Count. Their data helps scientists keep track of bird populations. The best part is that anyone can participate. Counting Birds reminds us that one person really can make a difference.

Counting Birds

By Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Clover Robin (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Counting Birds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everyday kids learn how they can help protect bird species, near and far, with the award-winning book Counting Birds-the real-life story behind the first annual bird count.

What can you do to help endangered animals and make a positive change in our environment? Get counting! Counting Birds is a beautifully illustrated book that introduces kids to the idea of bird counts and bird watches. Along the way, they will learn about Frank Chapman, an ornithologist who wanted to see the end of the traditional Christmas bird hunt, an event in which people would shoot as many birds as possible on…


Who am I?

I’ve always loved birds, especially the red-winged black birds; their song was the first I learned to recognize as a kid. My first field guide was written by Roger Tory Peterson, and through that book and many others I’ve learned about the amazing world around us. Now, as a children’s nonfiction author, I get to share similar stories with young readers through my books and at school presentations. And as a writing instructor, I collect well-crafted and well-researched nonfiction, and use them to encourage budding children’s writers at workshops, in blog posts for the Nonfiction Ninjas, and as co-host of the annual Nonfiction Fest that celebrates true stories for children.


I wrote...

For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson

By Peggy Thomas, Laura Jacques (illustrator),

Book cover of For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson

What is my book about?

Some kids called him “Professor Nuts Peterson,” but Roger didn’t care. He was all about the birds. He watched birds. He drew birds. He hung over cliffs to photograph birds. And when he created his first Peterson Field Guide, Roger inspired millions of people to become bird watchers, too.  

Working closely with the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Thomas and Jacques have created the first children’s biography of the world-famous naturalist who revolutionized the way we look at, study, and appreciate animals, plants, and birds.

Extracted

By Ugo Bardi,

Book cover of Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth Is Plundering the Planet

A basic foundation for Collapse 2020 is the collapse timetable presented in the Limits to Growth model. A key assumption is that, as the world population increases, there will be related extractions of natural resources. If not controlled, many of those resources will run out. This book reports the status of world resources as of 2014. The “good news” – if we can call it that – is that the rates of resource depletion track closely with the Limits to Growth model. This is “good news” because it confirms that the model is sound. That’s “good” because it means we can rely on that model to plan for the future. On the other hand, it’s actually “very bad news”, because it shows the world is already in very bad condition.

Extracted

By Ugo Bardi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Extracted as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As we dig, drill, and excavate to unearth the planet's mineral bounty, the resources we exploit from ores, veins, seams, and wells are gradually becoming exhausted. Mineral treasures that took millions, or even billions, of years to form are now being squandered in just centuries-or sometimes just decades.

Will there come a time when we actually run out of minerals? Debates already soar over how we are going to obtain energy without oil, coal, and gas. But what about the other mineral losses we face? Without metals, and semiconductors, how are we going to keep our industrial system running? Without…


Who am I?

I was an Eagle Scout selected for the 1964 North Pole expedition, graduate of MIT with both BS and MS degrees in Aero Astro – yes, a true MIT rocket scientist. I quickly took planning roles at the “bleeding edge” of technology: missiles, nuclear power, heart pumps, DNA sequencing, telemedicine… In every case, however, the organizations were plagued by incompetence and corruption. As an individual, I interacted with activist leaders in movements for: peace, climate, social justice, ending poverty, etc. Again, incompetence and corruption. Throughout, I dug for answers into the wisdom of the classics and emerging viewpoints. Finally. All that effort paid off. I found the “big picture”! 


I wrote...

Collapse 2020 Vol. 1: Fall of the First Global Civilization

By Bruce Nappi,

Book cover of Collapse 2020 Vol. 1: Fall of the First Global Civilization

What is my book about?

Smart people can see world society falling apart. They are smart enough to understand the issues. They just need clear, simply stated, logical explanations that don’t just rehash previous explanations. Collapse 2020 is based on profound breakthrough research. It answers most of the open questions being asked today, as well as many of the greatest questions of the ages.

Readers are not going to hear these discoveries from governments, or find them in the press or academia. It would upset too many special interests. Just consider two examples: Collapse explains how human consciousness works! It shows the “singularity” has passed. If your life depended on this knowledge, wouldn’t you want to know? Well! It does! Reading the book will give you the answers.

Purchase a copy of Collapse 2020 Vol. 1.

The Wilderness Warrior

By Douglas Brinkley,

Book cover of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America

Here, Brinkley manages to write both a conventional biography of Roosevelt and a study of his impact on America’s natural heritage. In doing so he casts light on stories and evidence that most other biographers have overlooked. And it doesn’t help that Brinkley’s angle shows Roosevelt at his most exciting, climbing the Alps, trekking through the West, and exploring the Amazon.

The Wilderness Warrior

By Douglas Brinkley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wilderness Warrior as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From New York Times bestselling historian Douglas Brinkley comes a sweeping historical narrative and eye-opening look at the pioneering environmental policies of President Theodore Roosevelt, avid bird-watcher, naturalist, and the founding father of America’s conservation movement.

In this groundbreaking epic biography, Douglas Brinkley draws on never-before-published materials to examine the life and achievements of our “naturalist president.” By setting aside more than 230 million acres of wild America for posterity between 1901 and 1909, Theodore Roosevelt made conservation a universal endeavor. This crusade for the American wilderness was perhaps the greatest U.S. presidential initiative between the Civil War and World…

Who am I?

Clay Risen has been a reporter and senior editor at The New York Times for 11 years. He is the author of three widely respected books on American history, most recently The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century, which was a Times Notable Book for 2019 and a finalist for the Gilder-Lehrman Prize for Military History.


I wrote...

The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century

By Clay Risen,

Book cover of The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century

What is my book about?

Theodore Roosevelt commanded the Rough Riders, a volunteer regiment, during the Spanish-American War, an adventure that catapulted him to national fame and paved his way to the White House. It also made the Rough Riders themselves famous, and their collective experience, and the war itself, forever changed the course of American history as the country moved from the isolationism of the 19th century to the global dominance of the 20th.

One of Us

By Barrie Gilbert,

Book cover of One of Us: A Biologist's Walk Among Bears

Dr. Barrie Gilbert’s memoir, One of Us: A Biologist’s Walk Among Bears, is nothing if not a magnificent portrait and case study of humility. A half-century of incisive study and research into the baits, and needs and, perhaps most importantly, social complexity and intense attachments and intelligence of grizzly bears should be the lede here—not a single incident from Gilbert’s youth, when he surprised a mother grizzly with cubs while coming over a ridge into the wind. But so goes storytelling. Imbued with the compassion and generosity of the forgiven, Gilbert’s acute and intimate knowledge of the animal Indigenous cultures referred to as “the Real Bear” is unprecedented and unequaled in the tattered and impoverished remains of contemporary society in which so many have lost—are bereft of—any attachment to the wilderness from which we were birthed.

One of Us

By Barrie Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One of Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Barrie Gilbert's fascination with grizzly bears almost got him killed in Yellowstone National Park. He recovered, returned to fieldwork and devoted the next several decades to understanding and protecting these often-maligned giants. He has spent thousands of hours among wild grizzlies in Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks, Alberta, coastal British Columbia, and along Brooks River in Alaska's Katmai National Park, where hundreds of people gather to watch dozens of grizzlies feast on salmon. His research has centered on how bears respond to people and each other, with a focus on how to keep humans and bears safe.

Drawn from his…

Who am I?

I’m a writer of fiction and creative nonfiction living in northwest Montana’s Yaak Valley. I moved here from Mississippi 35 years ago to live in the mountains and write short stories, novellas, novels, but have gotten sucked into decades of battling a recalcitrant U.S. Forest Service intent on building roads and clearcutting in this incredibly unique ecosystem—the Yaak Valley, is the lowest elevation in Montana, the wettest valley, and an ancient inland rainforest that contains 25% of the entire state of Montana’s “species of concern.” Chief among these are the valley’s last 25 grizzlies: one of the rarest subpopulations in North America. Loving a thing deeply is almost always revolutionary. Revolution: to turn. To change. To revolve, evolve, return. To turn around.


I wrote...

Fortunate Son: Selected Essays from the Lone Star State

By Rick Bass,

Book cover of Fortunate Son: Selected Essays from the Lone Star State

What is my book about?

Fortunate Son is a literary tour of the Lone Star State by a native Texan of exceptional talent. The essays encompass a Texas that is both lost and found, past and present. The stories reach from Galveston Bay to the Hill Country outside Austin, and from Houston in the 1960s to today. They are bound together by a deep love and a keen eye for the land and its people and by an appreciation for what is given, a ruefulness for what is lost, and a commitment to save what can be saved.

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