Philip Hensher: The countryside is an illusion, so why not build?

M ost English people live in cities. The ten biggest urban areas, as officially defined, contain 18.3 million people – London, Manchester, the West Midlands, West Yorkshire, Tyneside, Liverpool, Nottingham, Sheffield, Bristol and Brighton. Some of these urban areas are quite arbitrarily divided, for example separating Sheffield from Chesterfield and Liverpool from Birkenhead, so the 40 per cent of the English population which seems to live in the ten largest urban areas is probably an underestimate.

The perfect spot for a Highland fling

Walk Of The Month: Ben Bhraggie, Sutherland - This climb is short and steep but the amorous still find they have feet fit for dancing. Mark Rowe sat that one out

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Saving forests with rhododendron juice

Climate change is being felt in the forests of Nepal. Erratic rainfall, melting glaciers, flash floods and landslides, droughts, forest fires and dried-up springs are leading to reduced crop production, loss of land, increased pests and disease and food scarcity.

Hugh Blackett: Forester dedicated to conservation in the Tropics

Hugh Blackett dedicated his professional life to the wise use and conservation of tropical rain forests. He was at the forefront in developing tools for tracking individual logs from forest to factory and onwards to point of sale, making it possible to prove the ownership and legal origin of wood products throughout the supply chain. Such certificates are just starting to be required by US and EU law, and it will soon be impossible to import and sell wood products legally in these markets without them. This is galvanising countries such as Indonesia, where much logging is illegal, and governments are at last putting serious pressure on the gangsters who exploit forests outside the law.

Government plans huge sell-off of Britain's forests

The Government is drawing up plans to sell off publicly owned forests in a move that could see private developers allowed to clear ancient trees to make way for holiday resorts, golf courses and adventure playgrounds.