Episode 116: Subsistence Living in Alaska with Zephyr Sincerny

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Alaska is considered by many to be the last frontier. One of the few remaining places where true pristine wilderness still exists. Without a doubt, this largest state in the United States is a fantastic place for outdoorsmen or anyone who wants to live close to nature and away from the crowds. This is because, although Alaska is huge, it has a tiny population located in just a few urban areas.

As you can imagine, hunting and fishing are in the blood of most Alaskans and ready access to the abundant and well managed natural resources makes it a perfect place for subsistence living. I’m using this term as defined in Alaska state law as the non-commercial, customary and traditional uses of fish and wildlife.

To discuss this topic I’m joined today by Zephyr Sincerny who is an outdoor guide, instructor and educator with long years of experience gained while working for Outward Bound USA and NatureBridge. He spends a lot of time growing food in his garden as well as hunting and fishing.

During our conversation, we discussed how Zephyr provides food for his family, year-round without the aid of a grocery store! We also got into discussing the effects of climate change, techniques of food preparation and the ethical and spiritual aspects of bowhunting. This is one special episode and I’m sure you’ll love every minute of it!

Wildwoods by Richard Nairn – A Book Review

The subject of Irish native woodlands has come up on the podcast more than once. For instance, I devoted an entire episode to this subject in 2018. Being born and raised in a country with much more tree cover than Ireland, broadleaf woodlands are one of the features of the natural landscape that I miss the most.

Early this year, after visiting a few local patches of remaining native woods I decided to read and learn more about Irish woodlands. I searched the Internet and came across a book by Richard Nairn titled “Wildwoods: The Magic of Ireland’s Native Woodlands”. I approached it with a little apprehension, as the word “magic” in the title made me think that it might be a little over-romanticised at the expense of hard scientific facts. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded.

The book is cleverly structured around the four seasons: winter, spring, summer and autumn. It’s based on the author’s experience of managing his own patch of native woodland. Nairn recounts the journey of learning about his woodland and his efforts to manage, restore and safeguard its future. He also takes the reader on his journeys to other woodlands where he met with experts to learn more about woodland history and ecology.

In the book, you will not only find solid information about tree species, plants and their ecology but also about insects, birds and other animals like badgers and squirrels. The author also doesn’t shy away from discussing social issues related to nature conservation and management such as badger cull. And as if that wasn’t enough, the book also contains an overview of Irish woodland history which is intriguingly intertwined with the history of the Irish state.

Overall, the book turned out to be a very engaging read. It’s packed with a lot of interesting and useful information. I’m definitely putting it on my list of recommended reads. And as always, I encourage you to buy it using the links below. That way you will not only get yourself a great book but also support my work.

Wildwoods is a fascinating account of his journey over a typical year. Along the way, he uncovers the ancient roles of trees in Irish life, he examines lost skills such as coppicing and he explores new uses of woodlands for forest schools, foraging and rewilding. Ultimately, Wildwoods inspires all of us to pay attention to what nature can teach us.

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Episode 115: Coexisting with Large Carnivores with John Linnell

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Large terrestrial carnivores, like wolves, bears and lynx, are the poster children for conservation and rewilding efforts. Also, they are usually right in the epicentre of the human-wildlife conflict which always sparks emotions. That makes it easy to use them to politicize conservation.

In many previous podcasts, our discussions about rewilding inevitably led us to talk about the issues surrounding large carnivores. But this episode is solely dedicated to our coexistence with these predators. And that’s because today’s guest is Dr John Linnell, who conducts interdisciplinary research on the interactions between humans and wildlife to mitigate conflict.

John works as a senior scientist at the Department of Terrestrial Ecology at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and as a professor at the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management at the Inland Norway University of Applied Science.