Hedgelands: A Wild Wander around Britain’s Greatest Habitat by Christopher Hart, with Jonathan Thomson - review by Tom Fort

Tom Fort

Shrub Crawl

Hedgelands: A Wild Wander around Britain’s Greatest Habitat

By

Chelsea Green 208pp £20
 

They are a curious bunch, the rewilders. They inhabit the same world as the rest of us, but they look at it very differently. They dream of a landscape roamed by aurochs and bison, prowled by lynxes and wolves, where beavers munch trees to make dams beside crystal streams. It would be a land free from battery chicken units, upland sheep and intensive dairy factories. There would be no grain prairies or brassica monocultures, no spraying of pesticides and herbicides.

The rewilders like to preach to the rest of us about the errors of our ways in matters of food production and land management. But being generally privileged and detached from the nasty economic realities faced by most people, not to mention self-righteous and annoying, doesn’t mean that they are wrong. Since 1945 we have, overall, made a god-awful mess of our countryside, driven by a slavish devotion to the doctrine of producing cheap food at any cost to the environment. We are now reaping the whirlwind.

The journalist Christopher Hart is a rewilding convert. His credentials seem to rest on his ownership of a seven-acre piece of land in ‘a corner of Wiltshire’ with ‘three hundred yards of beautiful, unkempt pullulating hedgerow’. But his inspiration, he says, is another hedge, standing in the corner of

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