Episode 168: Britain’s Birds with Benedict Macdonald

My guest this week is naturalist, conservationist and writer Benedict Macdonald. Benedict has recently released a new book ‘Cornerstones’, which talks about how by restoring cornerstone species we can help turn around the current impoverished state of nature in the UK. His previous book ‘Rebirding’ was how I first came to know of his work and I’ve been a great admirer of his work ever since. We talk about the numbers of UK birds, how land management needs to change in order to stop the loss of species in this country and what we can do at a garden level to make changes.

Dr Ian Bedford’s Bug of the Week: Box tree moth

What we cover

  • Do we waste money propping up untenably small populations of threatened species in isolated areas?
  • Bird species that are the ‘walking dead’ in Britain
  • Achieving cooperation between individual land owners to create the large scale and connected habitats that are needed to sustain populations
  • Adopting a build it and they will come approach
  • Are we wasting our time trying to make a difference at the garden scale? If not, what can we do to make a difference?
  • Some of the problems mentioned in Rebirding are directly related to the EUs common agricultural policy. How could this change given Brexit?
  • Ecotourism

About Benedict Macdonald

Benedict Macdonald is a conservation writer, field director in wildlife television, and a keen naturalist. He is passionate about restoring Britain’s wildlife, pelicans included, in his lifetime. 

During his extensive global travel experience, Benedict has found inspiring examples of why desecrating our country’s ecosystems is both entirely avoidable and against the national interest. This book is his attempt to ensure that this generation, for the first time in thousands of years, leaves Britain’s wildlife better off, not worse, than the generation before – for wildlife and people alike.

Benedict is a long-time writer for Birdwatching magazine, as well as a contributor to the RSPB Nature’s Home and BBC Wildlife. He has been fortunate to work on TV series for the BBC and Netflix – most notably the grasslands and jungles programmes of Sir David Attenborough’s conservation series Our Planet.


Cornerstones: Wild forces that can change our world by Benedict Macdonald – Bloomsbury Publishing PLC , 2022

Orchard: A Year in England’s Eden by Benedict Macdonald – HarperCollins, 2021

Rebirding: Restoring Britain’s Wildlife by Benedict Macdonald – Pelagic Publishing, 2020

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