Episode 114: The Implausible Rewilding with Steve Cracknell

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It’s no exaggeration to say that this was the most anticipated book of the year for me. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since, as regular listeners know, I’m keenly interested in rewilding and the conflict surrounding it. Therefore, it was my pleasure to chat with the author, Steve Cracknell, about the book, how it came to be and some particular situations portrayed in it.

In his book “The Implausible Rewilding of the Pyrenees” Steve takes the reader into the middle of the conflict surrounding the reintroduction of bears in the French Pyrenees. He travels across the Ariège in southwestern France and beyond to interview people on both sides of the conflict. The shepherds, who are suffering livestock losses, argue that bears are a threat to their way of life. The environmentalists point to the need to protect the environment.

That immensely interesting and complex story is painted against the backdrop of the beautiful mountain landscapes and culture-rich scenery of rural France. It turned out to be not only the most anticipated book but also the best I’ve read on the subject. And I haven’t even mentioned how beautiful it is, with stunning photos and high-quality paper.


The return of large predators might help to reinvigorate nature. But are wild animals like wolves and bears compatible with livestock farming? Will their arrival destroy mountain communities? Unable to decide on the issues, Steve Cracknell climbs up to the isolated summer pastures of the Pyrenees to talk with those most concerned: the shepherds. He also meets hunters and ecologists – and goes looking for bears…

Tommy’s Outdoors is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk

The Wizard and the Prophet by Charles C. Mann – A Book Review

I’m not exactly sure who recommended this book to me but I think it was one of my followers on social media. As always in such cases, I bookmarked it for later. After a few months I finally, and I must admit reluctantly, decided to give it a try. And boy, did I not regret it! So I’m writing this short review to return the favour and recommend it to you.

Given the topic of my podcast I am often entangled in discussions and debates about the natural environment, the role humans play in it and the best way forward for us. Those discussions are often heated and, I must admit, it is sometimes hard for me to make sense of some of the points being made. I’m sure that some of you can relate to this situation so I’m glad to let you know that this book will help you to make sense of it all!

The author discusses two fundamentally different philosophical approaches to humanity’s relation to the natural environment. “Wizards” rely on technology and human ability to change and shape the environment beyond what’s possible for other living creatures. “Prophets” insist that humans are just living organisms subject to the same natural laws as all others on this planet. These two opposing concepts result in different opinions as to the correct course of action for humanity going forward.

The book deals with a number of hot button topics and discusses them from both perspectives. The list includes climate change, farming, population growth, GMO foods, geoengineering and more. It is rich in historical facts and discusses important events, such as scientific discoveries, wars and famines, and how they changed the approach or caused a course correction for both “wizards” and “prophets.”

Don’t make the mistake, like I almost did, of thinking that reading this book would be a waste of time because you already have your own opinions on these subjects. As always, the differences are more nuanced than you might think. And as I said at the beginning, knowing the origin of these differences will help you understand why some people are making the arguments they do.

It is a highly recommended read and you can easily get the book using the link below. And by doing so, you will support my work as I will get a small commission. Don’t worry it won’t affect the price!


In forty years, the population of the Earth will reach ten billion. Can our world support so many people? What kind of world will it be? In this unique, original and important book, Charles C. Mann illuminates the four great challenges we face – food, water, energy, climate change – through an exploration of the crucial work and wide-ranging influence of two little-known twentieth-century scientists, Norman Borlaug and William Vogt.

Tommy’s Outdoors is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk

Episode 113: Coastal Processes with Melanie ​​Biausque and Edoardo Grottoli

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If you are a sea angler or just like to walk your dog on the beach, you might have noticed how the coastline changes from year to year. Some of us who have frequented the same spots for years might even have noticed changes that have occurred over a greater time span. Sometimes up to decades.

Whether it is a channel in the sand that deepens each year after the winter storms or a soft sandy beach that becomes increasingly stony, these changes are driven by coastal processes. Understanding these might be important for angling and recreation. But it’s even more important for understanding the economic impact on, or even the very survival of, coastal communities.

To discuss this interesting and important topic I have welcomed two scientists from project MarPAMM which we introduced in episode 104. We had a fun and thought-provoking conversation from which you will learn about their work and the importance of coastal processes.

Episode 112: Sizzlin Arrow with Paul Rhoades

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This episode is like a Christmas Special. Not only because of the publication date but also because we talk about a subject I have wanted to discuss for a long time. Bowhunting. And, it is always a great pleasure to talk with a fellow hunter and, in this case, also a fellow podcaster.

Our guest, Paul Rhoades, is the founder of Sizzlin Arrow Outdoors, a community website that is the gateway to eating clean, organic food. Their primary focus is on helping individuals gather and prepare their own meat, vegetables, and other natural food. Paul is also a passionate bowhunter, so I took the opportunity to ask him about all things bowhunting.

During our chat, we not only discuss in great detail bowhunting equipment and techniques but we also deal with a fiercely debated question, “Is bowhunting less or more humane than hunting with a rifle?”

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The Implausible Rewilding of the Pyrenees by Steve Cracknell – A Book Review

I have followed Steve Cracknell’s work for some time and so, as soon as I learned that he was going to publish a new book, I began to wait for the release date. Without exaggeration, I can say that for me it was the most anticipated book of the year. And when I finally got it in my hands, it not only lived up to but exceeded my expectations!

(I obviously couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk with Steve on my podcast. Subscribe now, so you don’t miss it when it’s published.)

The first thing you notice when you hold the book is that it’s heavy! From the high-quality chalk paper, beautifully reproduced photos and careful typesetting to the deliberate font typeface selection, the quality is absolutely top-notch. No detail was left unattended. It is easily the best put-together book I’ve had in my hands for over a decade! As a result, its photos in online bookstores don’t do it justice. Yes, it’s more expensive than your average book, but it’s worth every penny. And now, let’s talk about the content.

As the title suggests, the book is about rewilding. In the late 90s, a rewilding program in the Pyrenees started with the release of a brown bear named Pyros. Over the coming years, more bears were introduced from Slovakia. Predictably, this sparked an ongoing conflict. On the one side, are the anti-bear organizations that consist mainly of shepherds who are sustaining losses to their flocks. On the other side are the environmentalists and the government who are pushing for further rewilding.

One could mistakenly think that this conflict is black and white and without nuance. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are farmers and shepherds who are willing to accept their losses and members of non-farming communities who are not particularly fond of sharing the landscape with large carnivores. And so, Steve’s book takes us into the middle of the conflict through the author’s first-hand experiences, engaging interviews and historical outlines. All that against the background of the beautiful mountain landscapes and culture-rich scenery of rural France.

However, most importantly the book remains balanced and unbiased. And although the author admits that being completely objective is nearly impossible, he goes to great lengths to give all sides a fair opportunity to express their views. So in the end, the book leaves the reader with beautiful pictures in his head and substantial amounts of food for thought.

When I finished the book I felt a sense of loss because I wanted to keep on reading. That’s how I can tell a great book. Whether you are stoked about the rewilding movement or you’re one of its fierce opponents, I would recommend it without any hesitation. Go and buy it now!


The return of large predators might help to reinvigorate nature. But are wild animals like wolves and bears compatible with livestock farming? Will their arrival destroy mountain communities? Unable to decide on the issues, Steve Cracknell climbs up to the isolated summer pastures of the Pyrenees to talk with those most concerned: the shepherds. He also meets hunters and ecologists – and goes looking for bears…

Tommy’s Outdoors is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk

Episode 111: Shepherds of Wildlife with Tom Opre

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Recently I’ve noticed, and sometimes participated, in discussions about the fact that wildlife conservation can never be successful if the needs of local, indigenous peoples are not taken care of first. It becomes especially apparent when Western environmental NGOs move into Africa with poorly designed conservation programs. On my podcast we’ve also pointed out that hunting can provide an excellent alternative conservation approach that equally benefits both locals and wildlife.

Today, I am absolutely delighted to bring you my conversation with Tom (TA) Opre, a film director, cinematographer, television producer, conservationist and the founder of “Shepherds of Wildlife Society.” We discuss his latest critically acclaimed (20 major film festival awards) feature film “Killing the Shepherd.” In it, Tom presents the incredible story of the Soli people living in Shikabeta in Zambia. The film paints a breathtaking and deeply moving story of the fight against poverty and how rebuilding the wildlife population plays a key role.

In our conversation, you will not only hear some backstories about the film but also how making it triggered a chain of positive events that further supports the cause. I highly recommend listening to this podcast. And of course go buy a ticket and watch the film!

Episode 110: StreamScapes with Mark Boyden

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In this episode, once again, we’re going to talk about environmental education. Our guest is Mark Boyden, one of the founders of the Coomhola Salmon Trust. Mark was involved in producing native salmon stocking projects for rivers in the Irish South-West and in the efforts to reintroduce salmon to the great River Rhine. He also participated in successful captive freshwater pearl mussel breeding research. Out of these programs, a biodiversity community engagement project called StreamScapes was born.

My conversation with Mark made me rethink some of my opinions on community engagement and the patterns of communication so often seen among environmentalists. Mark presented a really fresh approach and if you are in any way interested in conservation you should definitely listen to our conversation. I appreciate that you might not agree with everything we say but it is important to recognize that we need a variety of approaches to reach our goal of educating people about the importance of the natural environment and the need to protect it.

Episode 109: When Accidents Happen with Moose Mutlow

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More than three years ago, I wrote a blog about safety in the outdoors. It is a very important topic for us outdoors people and I feel like I haven’t talked about it nearly often enough. Therefore I welcomed the opportunity to talk with Moose Mutlow who is a senior trainer for Yosemite Search and Rescue. As it happens, Moose just published his new book “When Accidents Happen: Managing Crisis Communication as a Family Liaison Officer.

Moose has an impressive resume of outdoor experiences and has been involved in traditional and alternative education for over 30 years. He was born and grew up in England, started teaching outdoor education in the Lake District and the South of France and spent time in the Arctic, Australia, Africa and the USA guiding and working for Outward Bound. Among other things, he has been a fishery officer, bar manager, social worker, principal at an elite sporting academy and a teacher in the Kalahari.


When Accidents Happen introduces how to meet the challenges of being a Family Liaison Officer and offers a reference to help support experienced FLO’s in their role. Backing up suggestions with examples from the field the text maps an approach to being a FLO, acknowledging the potential strengths and weaknesses of the position and defining clear parameters for FLO’s to successfully operate within.

Tommy’s Outdoors is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk

Episode 108: Communicating about Nature with Lucy McRobert

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Communication is by far the most important, yet most difficult, factor in any undertaking. Whether managing a business project with many stakeholders or leading a team to accomplish a goal, excellent communication is the key to success. It is no different in the world of conservation and nature-related endeavours. Anyone who has tried to communicate the benefits of hunting for conservation to uninformed people, with a distaste for killing animals, knows what I’m talking about! The complex and highly emotional world of social media doesn’t make communication any easier. But one thing is certain, if we want to find solutions to the problems faced by the natural world we need to communicate with each other to understand our visions, needs and concerns.

It is therefore my pleasure to bring you my conversation with a communications professional and wildlife storyteller Lucy McRobert. Lucy has worked on many campaigns for various environmental organizations and has a deep understanding of issues we might come across while discussing wildlife projects or the natural environment. Along with those topics, in our chat, she also shares with us some secrets of how social media works, including how to use it most effectively for communication while maintaining our own mental health and not playing into the hands of Internet trolls. You will also learn that you might be rejected for a job you wanted because of who followed you on social media! Yes, I know, it’s crazy!

I am sure that you will learn a lot from this episode and that you will improve the quality of your communication as well as gain new social media skills.