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Enchanted forests: the women shaking up nature writing


The worlds of conservation and nature writing are overwhelmingly white and male. But the Forestry Commission is taking steps to change all that

A chilly breeze blows through the wood and the old tree trunks creak as they are rubbed together by the wind. A grey squirrel twists around a grove of ancient yews, its claws scrabbling drily on the dark bark. A great tit’s seesawing song is the only note of spring. There is no sign, however, of the newest inhabitant of Leigh Woods.

Zakiya Mckenzie, one of the Forestry Commission’s new writers in residence, can’t find her way to this nature reserve just west of Bristol. Mckenzie, chosen from more than 1,000 applicants to write about woodland life for the commission’s centenary year, is extremely lost, somewhere on the wrong side of the city where she lives.

I’m not going to tell the kids to be quiet in the countryside just to make everyone else feel comfortable

The woods remind me I'm so tiny compared to everything else

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