Mr B's review
Wilding is a song of hope. Describing the development and success of the controversial Knepp Farm rewilding project, this book combines science and memoir with lyrical descriptions of recovering wildlife: turtle doves, nightingales, purple emperor butterflies. It will challenge your vision of the British ‘wild’ before the advent of industrial agriculture, and leave you with a profound appreciation of nature’s resilience.
‘The most inspirational book I’ve read in years. In every chapter, new species return.’ – Caitlin Moran (on Twitter)
Winner of the Richard Jefferies Society and White Horse Book Shop Literary Prize
Highly Commended by the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize
In Wilding, Isabella Tree tells the story of the ‘Knepp experiment’, a pioneering rewilding project in West Sussex, using free-roaming grazing animals to create new habitats for wildlife. Part gripping memoir, part fascinating account of the ecology of our countryside, Wilding is, above all, an inspiring story of hope.
Forced to accept that intensive farming on the heavy clay of their land at Knepp was economically unsustainable, Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell made a spectacular leap of faith: they decided to step back and let nature take over. Thanks to the introduction of free-roaming cattle, ponies, pigs and deer – proxies of the large animals that once roamed Britain – the 3,500 acre project has seen extraordinary increases in wildlife numbers and diversity in little over a decade.
Extremely rare species, including turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons, lesser spotted woodpeckers and purple emperor butterflies, are now breeding at Knepp, and populations of other species are rocketing. The Burrells’ degraded agricultural land has become a functioning ecosystem again, heaving with life – all by itself.
Personal and inspirational, Wilding is an astonishing account of the beauty and strength of nature, when it is given as much freedom as possible.
This inspiring and encouraging book demonstrates how nature can shake off the ravages of industrial farming and heal itself. — John Meadley, founder of Pasture for Life An excellent book. — Colin Tudge * Literary Review * At a time when we’re hammering the environment, this is a hopeful book about how the natural world can be reborn if we put the right creatures on our land, step back and let it flourish. — Simon Reeve Brilliantly researched and scripted, this riveting and powerful book will revolutionise farming and nature conservation. — Matthew Oates, National Specialist on Nature at the National Trust and author of In Pursuit of Butterflies I read Wilding at one go. It is both highly engaging and (equally important) very informative about a unique experiment in nature conservation, set in the context of the depressing decline in Britain’s wildlife. Wilding the Knepp Estate is one of the most exciting wildlife conservation projects in the UK, and indeed in Europe. It’s truly wonderful, and it fills me with hope. — Professor Sir John Lawton, President of The Institution of Environmental Sciences, Chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution 2005-11 and author of the 2010 report Making Space for Nature A compelling account of a brave and far sighted venture. At a moment when the future of our countryside hangs in the balance, Isabella Tree helps us understand how we become locked in by our personal experience and perspectives. A riveting, gloriously written read which expands our imagination, and fuels our commitment to reversing the cataclysmic decline of virtually all species, other than our own. — Helen Browning, Chief Executive of The Soil Association Isabella Tree’s riveting book captures the excitement of an immensely powerful new idea: that to save our beleaguered wildlife, we should move beyond conserving what remains – we should restore what we have lost. Fascinating in its detail and thrilling in its sense of possibilities, this is essential reading for anyone concerned with the future of the natural world in the demanding times to come. — Michael McCarthy, author of The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy Wilding is truly the most magnificent and inspiring book. — Adam Nicholson, author of The Seabird’s Cry Charming, inspirational and thought-provoking. Beautifully captures the magic and excitement of the Knepp rewilding project. — Professor Dave Goulson, author of Bee Quest So often we read of the countryside in shock and so seldom to we learn of its recovery. This is a pioneering, wonderful book, blooming with humour, practicality, science and lessons learned; a story whose heart beats in the same neck of the woods as Walden. Read Wilding and restore your belief in the return of nature. — Nicholas Crane, author of The Making Of The British Landscape Anyone with any interest in land – from a window-box to a National Park – needs to read this book. — Simon Barnes, author of The Meaning of Birds Wilding describes the inspirational story of a pioneering rewilding experiment that is changing the way we look at Nature, the countryside and conservation. Beautifully written, it marks the moment when the task at hand can no longer be about slowing down the inexorable decline of wildlife, but to begin the job of restoration. — Tony Juniper, former Executive Director of Friends of the Earth A thrilling, inspiring and deeply moving story of a wildlife revolution on an ordinary English farm, Wilding shows us what we have lost and what we could regain if we change our relationship with the countryside. — Patrick Barkham, author of Badgerlands Read Wilding by Isabella Tree . . . Thrilling. — India Knight * The Times * Every farmer (and perhaps every conservationist) in Britain needs to go and spend a day at Knepp. The Knepp `wilding’ project is a vitally important experiment for working out what we can do to let Nature back into our farmed landscapes . . . This book tells this vital story and deserves to be widely read. — James Rebanks, author of A Shepherd’s Life ‘Wilding is both a timely and important book . . . Isabella Tree imagines the last migrating turtledove departing Knepp and flying over a Europe “that is being recolonized by beavers, wolves, wolverines, jackals and bears.” And it is in that changing landscape that hope resides.’ — Tim Flannery * New York Review of Books * Close to my book of the year. If there’s anything better, I haven’t read it yet . . . An uplifting story and points towards a different sort of farmed future. — Marcus Berkmann, ‘Best Books for Summer Reading’ * Daily Mail * A hugely important addition to the literature of what can be done to restore soil and soul . . . Tree writes with grace about a legion of doubts, obstructions and delays. The book contains moments of lyricism and revelation. — Caspar Henderson * Guardian * Wilding shines brilliantly . . . . Isabella Tree writes [. . .] with infectious enthusiasm . . . The project she writes about so winningly . . . is inspirational – and inspiration is needed. * Evening Standard * The remarkable story of an astounding transformation. — George Monbiot, author of Feral A poignant, practical and moving story of how to fix our broken land, this should be conservation’s salvation; this should be its future; this is a new hope. — Chris Packham, presenter of The Really Wild Show Particularly timely . . . an excellent primer, and anyone who is interested in how we share the planet – what it looks like, what we eat, and what nature can teach us – should read this book. * Sunday Times * This must be the most inspirational nature book of the year . . . a narrative of conservation, courage, vision and miracles… The story of what happened is thrilling . . . the Knepp Conservation Project is world-famous: a beacon of hope . . . Read this book and marvel. — Bel Mooney, ‘The Year’s Best Books on Nature’ * Daily Mail *
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