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WorldWild Podcast

 Episode 9  19th April 2019

An Ethnobotanist's View with Anna Lewington

In 1970, at the age of 15, Anna Lewington experienced immense grief. The ancient woods which she would explore in her native Sussex; the woods 'that had seemed a part of me, that had helped shape my sense of who I am, that I loved like a parent - as deeply as it was possible to love anything', was systematically cut down. This feeling of bereavement and anger would eventually bring her to the middle of the Amazon rainforest. There she wrote about the importance of the natural world to Indigenous peoples; specifically the manioc and its sacred mythology within the Machiguenga peoples.

In this conversation, Anna details her work to engage people with plants, her involvement with Survival International, the issue of palm oil, the cultural importance of nature, confronting harsh facts and how we can move closer to living in harmony with the plants which have given us so much…


'To exclude local people is not only morally wrong but stupid too...If you get the people right, you'll get the environment right'

- Anna Lewington, episode 9


About Anna Lewington


Anna Lewington is an ethnobotanist who began her research with the Machiguenga peoples in the Peruvian Amazon and the importance of the manioc (Manihot esculenta). She wanted, as she puts it; 'to show how important one particular plant could be with regard to the identity of an indigenous people'. She is the author of ‘Plant for People’, published in 1990 with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to much acclaim. She is the author of many educational books including ‘Birch’ (2018) about the cultural significance of birch trees, ‘The Plant People; (2014), an adventure story for children, and ‘Ancient Trees’ (2012). She continues to be passionate about Indigenous rights and in the power of plants to tell stories.



Further reading

About the show


We offer a series of conversations to tap into the wildness within ourselves and to uncover what is possible when we do. It is our hope that through the WorldWild Podcast we can contribute to the revitalisation of wild food culture and conversation around the world.


Through people who know their landscapes intimately, we gather the threads to weave a rich tapestry. Piece by piece the vision of a wilder world comes into view. The wild embrace of nature welcomes us back and offers us a seat at the table. A feast, no less!



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