This shop uses cookies and other technologies to operate the shopping basket and improve the usability of the Wild Places Publishing website. Continued use of this site indicates your acceptance of our privacy and cookies policy, and our terms and conditions. We do not set advertising cookies. For more information about cookies see our FAQ.

  • On sale!
  • Reduced price
The Spice of Life
  • The Spice of Life

The Spice of Life


Biodiversity and the extinction crisis, by Chris Howes

Post to
£10.00 Save £15.00
Select from the options above

This item is in stock and you may place your order.

  • Secure payment Secure payment
  • Prices include delivery Prices include delivery
  • We reuse packing materials We reuse packing materials

Secure payment


Prices include delivery


We reuse packing materials


The Spice of Life

From the dustjacket

Take a rich mixture of life, a gentle squeeze of evolution, add a pinch of history and flavour liberally with science. The Spice of Life an extraordinary study of life: how it began, what affects its species – and where it is heading. This fascinating and informative book, illustrated throughout with stunning colour photography and diagrams, shows where science is taking us and how we initiate new forms of life. Here are the influences of our world, the terrors of pollution and the need for conservation.

The sheer variety of life on earth is both astonishing and bewildering. Even as we approach the year 2000, we still have little idea of how many other species share our planet, of what they are or how they live. Around 1.5 million species of animal and plan have been recorded already, but current estimates suggest the earth may be supporting 20 to 50 times this number. We hardly know what we are destroying, from the forest floor to coastal wetlands.

We are in the opening stages of a massive, global extinction crisis, with around 100 species annihilated each day by our activities. By the start of the next millennium, between 15 and 20 per cent of the world's species will be lost, their genes gone forever. The speed of this mass extinction far outstrips that of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. While we cannot predict the effect this may have on sustaining our living planet, the concepts behind the latest buzzword – biodiversity – are crucial to this understanding.

The Spice of Life is a clear, authoritative and beautiful book that describes how quickly the world is undergoing change, and how urgent our need to initiate controls. It is, above all, a story of our wonder with nature, but it is also a story of our potential fate, unless we can recognise the risks in time.

Quote from the book

It is truly time for Western cultures to pay the price for what they covet and value. And, if they covet and value biodiversity for whatever reason – ethical, moral or plain avarice – it is essential that Western cultures wake up to the devastating genetic losses occurring day by day in the rainforests and elsewhere. When the species and their genes are lost, with them go the solutions to our questions.


VAT is not charged on UK publications. Orders to the EU are posted without tax paid: you are responsible for VAT and any other charges on delivery. We will be unable to refund you in full if you refuse delivery or the charges are not paid.

Product Details

Data sheet

Hardback and softback
19.5cm x 25.5cm
New or used:
Book: new
Over 100 colour photographs and illustrations
Publication date:
1997 (HB), 1998 (SB)
978-0-7137-2390-8 and 978-0-7137-2760-9
Published by Blandford Press, Wild Places Publishing is the sole distributor
Chris Howes

Cassell New Titles catalogue: Environment & popular science

February 1997

A clear, authoritative and visually delightful book which describes how quickly our planet is undergoing changes which constitute the start of a massive extinction crisis. With the author's own superb photographs, the book celebrates biodiversity, its process and threats to it, and explains the vital need to initiate protection programmes to stop the errors of destruction and halt the pace of species extinction. Whilst celebrating the richness of life, it also warns of our fate if we do not recognise the ever growing risks to the very spice of life.

  • The best popular account yet of just what biodiversity is all about
  • Clear explanation of the importance of the need to protect species as integral to our world's survival
  • A book to enthrall those who love nature as well as one to inspire concern and action


Winter 1997

In complete contrast to his photography book [Images Below], Chris has written, under his other hat, a very absorbing book about natural life and the crisis we all face through species extinction and the pollution we have inflicted upon our world.

As we would expect the photography is excellent, and the text is based upon his background experience from a zoology degree and many years of travelling around the world. We are constantly reminded of the perils we may face from abusing our world, but the warnings seem somehow distant, with no immediate effect upon our daily lives. This book brings alive what is really happening, suggests what we might do about it, and shows, through historical experience, what will happen if we just sit back and do nothing.

It really is a must for every family as a Christmas present. There's something in it for every age, and at the price it's very affordable. It is available from your local bookshop, or contact the publisher Cassell/Blandford in case of difficulty. The ISBN is 0713723904.


1 January 1998

Howes, a fellow of Britain's Royal Photographic Society, blends his love of wilderness, his biological training, and his photographic skill (previously displayed, for example, in To Photograph Darkness: The History of Underground and Flash Photography, 1990) in a lavishly illustrated, wide-ranging survey of 'biodiversity and the extinction crisis'. Ad Howes acknowledges, 'Complete volumes have been written on the theories which appear as the minutia of Spice'; therefore, his goal is to offer an overview for the nonspecialist reader of current notions on 'how life began, what affects its species, and where it is heading.' That overview includes genetics and geology, geography and ecology, the chemistry of pollution, and the agricultural impact of a diminishing gene pool. Spice contains dozens of illustrations (Howes' photos and historical photos, maps, charts etc.); the text constitutes two-thirds of its contents.

Non-UK orders

If stock is available for all post destinations, selecting any set of options will allow you to place your order immediately.

If stock is limited, for example with a single copy of a second-hand book, it will be assigned to UK stock. If you require posting to an address outside the UK, selecting your options may not allow an order to be placed, even though stock is available. If this is the case, please contact us to enable the options you require.

Please see our FAQs relating to deliveries, and the Delivery page linked from the bottom of each page, before placing your order if time is an important element for your order.


We regret that due to the volatility of Royal Mail postage charges, we have been forced to remove the option for two-year subscriptions. We have also been forced to remove the option for economy mail to the EU, given indications that Royal Mail intends to remove this service.

All international mail is now being despatched in paper wrapping using Royal Mail customs and address labels mandated by them. We also regret this means we can no longer indicate the last issue of your subscription on the mailing sheet or supply a reminder to renew with the final edition. Please track your own subscription ending or check with us at any time. Subscriptions begun since September 2021 have a comment added in your account (under the tab for the order) which records the final issue to be supplied.


On 1 July 2021 the EU removed all exemptions for tax and customs duty on low value items posted from the UK to the EU, meaning that although VAT is 0% on books and magazines in the UK, it is charged within the EU and the VAT (potentially plus a handling fee) now apply to all orders to the EU.

Ideally, the VAT should be paid at the point of posting, but doing so requires registration with an agent to handle the payments, and this is incredibly expensive and not financially viable. To be clear, all small publishers in the UK are in the same position and we are unable to post any items to the EU with VAT or other duties paid.

Ordering any item from Wild Places, including a Descent subscription, requires that you accept responsibility of paying the VAT and any other local charges on delivery.

To be clear: Wild Places will NOT cover any charges levied by your country; it is your responsibility to accept these when placing an order.

We apologise for the situation, but it is outside our control. We will maintain a link from the left-hand column on the home page with the latest updates. If you are an existing subscriber to Descent and have not replied yet to our enquiries concerning your deliveries, please make contact.

NOTE: Subscribers in Norway or Switzerland (which are outside the EU) should place your order on the Subscription International page or contact us first.


No customer reviews for the moment.

Write your review

The Spice of Life

Biodiversity and the extinction crisis, by Chris Howes

Write your review

16 other products in the same category:

Reference: DID

Diving in Darkness

A manual of overhead environment diving in caves and mines, under ice and in wrecks, by Martyn Farr

Price £19.95
Select from the options above

Reference: sh-1168

To Photograph Darkness (second-hand)

The history and development of underground and flash photography, by Chris HowesEU customers must read the notes under the Non-UK Orders tab before ordering

Price £12.50
Select from the options above

Reference: 13-lives

Thirteen Lessons That Saved Thirteen Lives

Thirteen Lessons That Saved Thirteen Lives by John Volanthen is about the incredible cave rescue that involved British cave divers in Thailand in 2018, as written by one of the lead divers.EU customers please read the notes under the Non-UK Orders tab

Price £20.00
Select from the options above

Reference: SH-1167

Images Below (second hand)

A manual of underground and flash photography: cave photography for cavers, by Chris HowesEU customers must read the notes below before ordering

Price £15.00
Select from the options above

Reference: AU

Adventures Underground

A journey of exploration through the caves of the Yorkshire Dales, by Dave Haigh and John Cordingley. WINNER OF THE 2017 TRATMAN AWARD

Price £24.95
Out of Stock

Reference: IB

Images Below

A manual of underground and flash photography: cave photography for cavers, by Chris HowesEU customers please read the 'non-UK orders' notes below before ordering

Price £22.50
Select from the options above