In 2003, the Grey Partridge – already Red-listed as in danger of extinction within a generation – was a rarity in Sussex. The Arundel Estate on the South Downs, once a home to hundreds of birds, was down to just two breeding pairs. Across Britain, modern farming methods – prairie-like fields, chemicals, extensive use of pesticides (often with government incentives) have proved disastrous for biodiversity. Potentially this is as damaging as climate change. Half of our species are in decline. And on the South Downs, the Grey Partridge seemed on the brink of local extinction. Twenty years on, thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group of local people, the Grey Partridge is back. Over 2,000 of them. This was a near-miraculous reversal of fortune, and not just for one bird. A huge variety of wild flowers, insects and species of birds returned too. As the conservationists and farm managers worked to improve habitats, secure food sources, and discourage predators, the whole ecosystem started to regenerate. In his insightful new book, Roger Morgan-Grenville has provided an in-depth look at the progress and success of this important project.
‘The Return of the Grey Partridge is magnificent, important, and should be required reading for everybody interested in saving Britain’s nature.’ John Lewis-Stempel