Rebirding takes the long view of Britain’s wildlife decline, from the early taming of our landscape and its long-lost elephants and rhinos, to fenland drainage, the removal of cornerstone species such as wild cattle, horses, beavers and boar – and forward in time to the intensification of our modern landscapes and the collapse of invertebrate populations.
It looks at key reasons why species are vanishing, as our landscapes become ever more tamed and less diverse, with wildlife trapped in tiny pockets of habitat. It explores how Britain has, uniquely, relied on modifying farmland, rather than restoring ecosystems, in a failing attempt to halt wildlife decline. The irony is that 94% of Britain is not built upon at all. And with more nature-loving voices than any European country, we should in fact have the best, not the most impoverished, wildlife on our continent. Especially when the rural economics of our game estates, and upland farms, are among the worst in Europe.
Britain is blessed with all the space it needs for an epic wildlife recovery. The deer estates of the Scottish Highlands are twice the size of Yellowstone National Park. Snowdonia is larger than the Maasai Mara. The problem in Britain is not a lack of space. It is that our precious space is uniquely wasted – not only for wildlife, but for people’s jobs and rural futures too.
Rebirding maps out how we might finally turn things around: rewilding our national parks, restoring natural ecosystems and allowing our wildlife a far richer future. In doing so, an entirely new sector of rural jobs would be created; finally bringing Britain’s dying rural landscapes and failing economies back to life.
Macdonald maps out a fantastic future where our national parks and windswept uplands morph from grouse, deer and sheep nibbled factories into landscapes heaving with life. That there is space in our little island to bring back the ghosts of our past; from lynx to elk to bison. -- Katharine Lowrie * 5000 Mile project * A masterful synthesis on a topical subject .... It contains first of all an excellent historical summary of the evolution of British ecosystems and fauna since the end of the glaciations, full of very specific examples on the evolution of landscapes and their consequences on the avifauna. Frequent comparisons, especially with Eastern Europe, both remind us of the "ecological amnesia" which makes us forget what we have lost and at the same time show us the reasons for that loss..... You may not look at nature the same way again. -- Jean Marc Thiollay * Ornithos * This is the best book on nature, conservation and rewilding I read in 2019 - perhaps one of the best I've ever read. I finished reading it with a real sense of hope for the future. It presents the best argument yet for rewilding before it's too late, and shows us exactly how to do it. -- Alex Roddie * www.alexroddie.com * This book reads nicely and the subject is topical. It presents a good mix of interesting facts and well-explained points of view. -- Walter Belis * Alauda * This is most definitely my book of the year and possibly the whole decade! Regular readers will know I rarely gush and that is usually over the writing skills of authors and not content. This is an unashamed gush for content with an appreciative nod to its very accessible prose and light but deadly serious style. * Fatbirder * Reading this book as both a rewilder and a birder, I expected that an author with a media background would hardly do a good job of rewilding, let alone cover the science of Britain's historic and prehistoric wildlife. But Macdonald's book has really surprised me. I have learned much I did not know about Britain's early bird faunas, and even the history of its mammals. The level of treatment and scholarly references is on a par with conservation science books. .... I thoroughly recommend the book and applaud its breadth and detail. Any birder will gain a good grasp of the rewilding agenda, and any rewilder will find much to learn about birds and their place in wilding schemes. -- Peter Taylor * ECOS * [A] splendid new book... all rational argument seems to be on his side. -- Tim Flannery * Guardian * A visionary yet practical book. -- John Burnside * New Statesman * This is a welcome addition to the growing corpus of literature on a very topical and vital issue. As the catchy title suggests, there is plenty here for those, like me, whose primary passion is for birds, but there is also a wealth of information on rewilding in general, with reference to further reading. The book's primary geographic focus is on Britain, but its well-travelled author draws on experience further afield, too. Ben Macdonald has an impressive track record as a field naturalist, wildlife film-maker and writer, and this passionate, authoritative, up-to-date and, ultimately, optimistic book is a worthy companion to such seminal works as George Monbiot's Feral and Mark Cocker's Our Place. -- Jonathan Elphick * British Wildlife Magazine * With George Monbiot's Feral and Isabella Tree's Wilding providing a look at rewilding from different standpoints... Rebirding sits separate from both and in fact is an essential third book to read if you've enjoyed the others. In short, it's a captivating, fascinating and inspiring read. -- Ed Stubbs * BirdGuides / Birdwatching Magazine * A must read and a good read...the type of book that grabs and keeps my attention. You should read it and I think you may well enjoy it a lot -- Mark Avery * www.markavery.info * It is a beautifully written, thoughtful and, yes, provocative book. -- Martin Harper (Conservation Director, RSPB) * RSPB *
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