Wilding and rewilding projects are quite common these days. In East Kent, we have bison, ponies and pigs being introduced to woodland, we have beaver in the River Stour, and we are (as I write) about to have choughs released into the wild along the White Cliffs. But they weren’t always this common!
Isabella Tree’s Wilding is the story of the Knepp Castle Rewilding Project, one of the UK’s first rewilding projects. This large estate in Sussex had thrived for centuries as a hunting destination for kings and nobility, but by the end of the 20th century the challenges of modern farming had driven it to the edge of financial and ecological bankruptcy. Striving for ever-increasing productivity and chasing subsidies was destroying the landscape and its ecosystems. Then the owners changed direction, becoming part of the new Countryside Stewardship scheme. Selling off the farm equipment to clear their overdraft, they set about introducing a variety of wild grazing animals instead. The transformation was dramatic, to say the least. If you want spoilers, you can check out their website.
This book is a fascinating read, explaining the impact of intensive farming on the landscape and biodiversity, and is written in a conversational style that is hard to put down. Many established views of land management are put in their place, along with wonderful insights into nature, such as the life of an oak tree, and the value of landscape management by goose.
Highly recommended – if you already know about this stuff you will enjoy the story, and if you don’t know about this stuff, you need to!
This is part of a series in which the team comprising the Academy for Sustainable Futures recommends sustainability- and climate-themed books. This series will feature on the blog and in the monthly newsletter, Us in the World.
By John Hills, Sustainability Projects Officer
Comment on “Sustainability Book Reviews #2: Wilding”
What a great review John. You have made me want to read the book. And when I next get the chance I shall pop into the bookshop and order a copy.