Wilding: Returning Nature to our Farm
For years Charlie Burrell and his wife, Isabella Tree, farmed Knepp Castle Estate and struggled to turn a profit. By 2000, with the farm facing bankruptcy, they decided to try something radical. They would restore Knepp's 3,500 acres to the wild. Using herds of free-roaming animals to mimic the actions of the megafauna of the past, they hoped to bring nature back to their depleted land. But what would the neighbors say, in the manicured countryside of modern England where a blade of grass out of place is considered an affront?
In the face of considerable opposition the couple persisted with their experiment and soon witnessed an extraordinary change. New life flooded into Knepp, now a breeding hotspot for rare and threatened species like turtle doves, peregrine falcons, and purple emperor butterflies.
The fabled English nightingale signs again.
At a time of looming environmental disaster, Wilding is an inspiring story of a farm, a couple, and a community transformed. Isabella Tree's wonderful book brings together science, natural history, a fair bit of drama, and – ultimately – hope.
Copyright 2018, softcover, 392 pages.
Praise for Wilding
"In a story that is part personal memoir, part work of conservation, Tree reveals the capacity of the wild to reclaim the land – as long as humans step out of the way."
– The Smithsonian
"Wilding is a crucial, important book for everyone to read, especially in how it pushes back against foundational assumptions we all make about wilderness, nature, and how animals live. It is quite simply one of the best books I've ever read."
– Jeff VanderMeer
"Knepp Castle is a modern marvel, a wild ancient landscape in a modern domestic country, a place filled with birds and animals leading their own independent and remarkable lives. ... As a writer, Tree is both elegant and deeply informed, and the story is full of poetic awareness and scientific foundations."
– Roxana Robinson
"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 perspective. 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, The Soil Association