The return to Nature of a british Farm

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Isabella Tree: Wilding (2018, Picador)

Hardcover, 365 pages

English language

Published July 15, 2018 by Picador.

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4 stars (9 reviews)

This a blow by blow and month by month account of how a well-managed, but totally unprofitable estate farm in 21st century Britain was managed back to nature, to how it might have been if never touched by human hand. Wilding is a reference book which the interested will return to again and again. To this end, it has been comprehensively indexed and contains an extensive bibliography. Isabella Tree shows herself (and her partner and the estate staff) to be totally practical and competent. But the real magic of the book is in that it can be taken up and left down and opened at any page. It is illustrated by black and white and coloured plates and hand-drawn diagrams. If I were allowed only one book on British rural and farming ways, this would be very close to the top of my wish list

3 editions

reviewed Wilding by Eric Schlosser

lovely on unexpected ecological joys when we let go

3 stars

If you had a castle and 3500 acres intensively farmed dairy pastures and crops, and realized that wasn't sustainable, and so sought conservation funding to let it return to a wild state... this is the book is for you to rethink what wild might mean. Presents a hopeful sense that conservation and ecological repair should not be a static goal or species-specific understanding or undertaking ("this used to be wetlands, these birds are only found in closed-canopy forests") but a dynamic stepping back and observing and waiting to find out what the purpose of letting nature proceed may be.

Review of 'Wilding' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

I found Wilding really informative and interesting, though obviously a lot of the facts are rather depressing. It particularly made me realise how insect-free my life is now compared to when I was growing up, and what that is doing to our birds and other creatures.

That being said, her descriptions of wildlife are really evocative and enjoyable, and inspired me to take a trip to Knepp while reading the book. It was lovely to see it in person, and as she describes it is so different to see large animals like cows and deer in that environment. I am now much more interested in seeking out some ways to get involved in conservation and rewilding.

The one thing I struggled with in the book was the author's sense of entitlement to vast sums of government support. Being an inherited land owner should not mean you are entitled to even …

A beautiful and inspiring book

5 stars

I loved this book. Taking as the starting point an unsustainable agri-business model that will be familiar to anyone who follows 'contemporary' British agriculture practice, the book charts the progress of a farm towards a nature-friendly destination.

The writing is quite beautiful in its description of nature, in hundreds of different ways. The passion of the author clearly shines through, and I hope that other land owners have been inspired as a result.

I finished this book on a trip to the Abergavenny area, like much of Wales over-grazed and an ecosystem desert. There is so much for us to learn and appreciate from nature, and this book has been an amazing insight into possibility.

Review of 'Wilding' on 'GoodReads'

3 stars

Wilding is a strange book. On the one hand, it is an inspiring tale of how land can be replenished despite all the damage that has been done in the last 100 years of heavy agriculture. Isabella Tree tells the story of how 3,500 hectares of land at Knepp Farm were "rewilded", i.e. allowed to go fallow with as little human intervention as possible. The reaffirming stories (and the accompanying science) are terrific - from the earthworms to the nightingales to the longhorn cattle, each introduced or returning creature adds something to the dynamic ecosystem of Knepp.

On the other hand, the book is a tale of outrageous privilege. Particularly in the early chapters, Tree writes with disdain at the subsidies, the bureaucracies and the practices that led to the agricultural destruction. What she fails to address in any meaningful way is how Knepp practiced this unsustainable farming, or that …

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