Islands of Abandonment: Nature Rebounding in the Post-Human Landscape

Written by Cal Flyn


OPL BOOK SUMMARY:  Take a journey to some of the most desolate places on earth where nature is thriving, pulling itself out of the wreckage man created.

Readers can travel to the wasteland in Scotland – the Five Sisters, West Lothian – and behold the scarred mountains of shale waste from the 1860s that nature is slowly creeping into again. Then, soar to the 112-mile buffer zone in Cypress that was a demilitarization zone between the Turkish and Greek troops from the 1970s through today. This Greenline, which has been abandoned by humans for decades, is now rich with wildlife. 

Flyn shares the aftermath of the nuclear winter in Chernobyl, Ukraine. This site has been off limits since 1986 due to unsafe radiation levels, and yet, 76% of the area is covered in forests. Nature invades the city, tearing up roads and buildings as it spreads and takes over.  This area will continue to be abandoned wilderness for another 270 years, until radiation levels are safe enough for humans to inhabit again.  

Flyn finally takes the reader to the streets of Detroit.  Once the fourth largest city, Detroit is now an empty shell, too big for its inhabitants. An area larger than Manhattan is vacant.  Whole streets are abandoned, grass grows freely, and vines creep up crumbling murals of neglected buildings.  Urban gardens are carefully tended by its remaining inhabitants.  The reader is left to ponder how nature and its people can find a way out of the complex situation.

Through Flyn’s eyes, readers witness areas destroyed by war and industrial poisons and notice the power and beauty of nature when it’s given space to grow wild.  This book is beautiful, heartbreaking, and cautiously optimistic.  It shares how nature can successfully recover and heal itself from man’s wreckage if given the time to do so.

Available used at BetterWorldBooks.

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