The Book of Wilding: A Practical Guide to Rewilding Big and Small by Isabella Tree & Charlie Burrell - review by Charlie Pye-Smith

Charlie Pye-Smith

Bears or Beans?

The Book of Wilding: A Practical Guide to Rewilding Big and Small

By

Bloomsbury 560pp £35
 

If I were a farmer, I would immediately be put off The Book of Wilding by its cover. It contains six adulatory quotes, one from George Monbiot, the closest thing radical greens have to a high priest and an arch-critic of modern farming, and another from the loquacious TV naturalist and sometime farmer-basher Chris Packham, with the rest coming from Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joanna Lumley and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, none of whom, as far as I know, are experts on managing the land. Rewilding has clearly captured the zeitgeist of our nature-depleted age and the imagination of people whose names sell books.

Nevertheless, I would urge any farmer who is trying to work out how to make his or her land more nature-friendly to read at least the first three chapters of The Book of Wilding. Isabella Tree and Charlie Burrell provide a brilliant overview of what rewilding means and its potential to transform the landscape.

Knepp Castle in West Sussex had belonged to the Burrell family for two centuries when Charlie and his wife, Isabella, decided it no longer made sense to farm the 1,400-hectare estate intensively. Decades of ploughing and chemical abuse had exhausted the soils; even with subsidies the estate was losing

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