Congratulations to Joe Gray, the Herts recorder for terrestrial bugs, whose first-published natural history book takes the overlooked wealth of 'backyard' wildlife as its theme. Titled Thirteen Paces by Four – the size of Joe's urban garden – it draws on encounters during the Coronavirus pandemic from invertebrates to mid-sized mammals.

Not only does Joe provide practical pointers on how gardens can be made more wildlife-friendly but he also explores topical issues with a broader environmental scope, such as sustainable agriculture and wiser use of water.

Based on his work as an independent scholar in conservation, he goes on to examine some of the cutting-edge developments in this field, including the Rights of Nature movement and the idea of giving other species political representation.

Thirteen Paces by Four is published by Dixi Books and is available from various online stockists including Book Depository and Bookshop. The author's royalties are being donated in full to the World Land Trust.


“A lyrical mix of backyard naturalism, Do-It-Yourself rewilding, eco-philosophical exegeses, and reflections on ‘the storm of now’, Joe Gray’s work is a grounded meditation on how we can meet the present-day Earth calamity. May humanity awaken to the love and awe that unassumingly flow from every page.”

— Eileen Crist, author of Abundant Earth: Toward an Ecological Civilization


Joe Gray

“With Thirteen Paces by Four, Joe Gray has written a new classic of ecological literature. In its own unassuming way, it stands alongside the work of Aldo Leopold, Edward Abbey, John Muir, Annie Dillard and others in the same class – but especially, perhaps, that of Henry David Thoreau.”

— Patrick Curry, author of Enchantment: Wonder in Modern Life