Author: Isabella Tree
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Biology, Conservation, Nature, Non-fiction
Dates read: 9th – 26th April 2020
5th sentence, 74th page: Well on the way to recovery in Europe, they have already been spotteed in the Oostvaardersplassen and are likely soon to be bredding in the reserve.
Forced to accept that intensive farming of the heavy clay soils of their farm at Knepp in West Sussex was driving it close to bankruptcy, in 2000 Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell tok a spectacular leap of faith and handed their 3,500 acres back to nature. With minimal human intervention, and with herds of free-roaming animals stimulating new habitats, their land is now heaving with life. Rare species such as turtle oves, peregrine falcons and purple emperor butterflies are now breeding at Knepp and biodiversity has rocketed.
The Knepp project has become a leading light for conservation in the UK, demonstrating how letting nature take the driving seat can restore both the land and its wildlife in a dramatically short space of time, reversing the cataclysmic declines that have affected most species elsewhere in Britain over the past five decades. Part gripping memoir, part fascinating account of Britain’s rural ecology, Wilding is, above all, an inspiring story of hope.
I bought this book in a sale because it looked mildly interesting, and I do love anything that discusses issues with the natural environment. What I got was an experience that I NEVER expected. One that just completely blew me away and swept me off my feet. Plus, I was reading it at a time that I was beginning the process of removing myself from the rigours of academia and ecology… something which is mentioned frequently in this book. It helped to seriously crystallise some of my thoughts.
This is a very interesting and somewhat inspiring book. As someone who wants to buy land and then “rewild” it, there were a number of practicalities which were presented in this novel. Yet, it was more than that – the terminology of rewilding, the different projects around the world and the many different issues that were faced were seriously delved into. Yet, instead of being dry, as many writers like this can be, Tree is able to recount her adventures and experiences in an engaging and intriguing manner. One that makes it seriously difficult to put this book down.
One of the biggest boundaries that constantly appeared throughout this novel was that of coming up against bureaucracy. Fighting constantly against a bureaucracy that tends to need specific details for any kind of funding. Which, in and of itself then limits the outcome of the project – by placing restrictions on what we are aiming for, what we are aiming for becomes restricted. It’s a definite issue and fallacy within the conservation community that I tend to find frustrating, and it was interesting to read about it from the other point of view.
This is an amazing book for anybody who is interested in conservation to read. It is engaging, intriguing and incredibly insightful. The amount of information that Tree manages to impart is seriously impressive – especially since she does it in such a approachable and enlightening way.
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