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Summary

Winner of the Richard Jefferies Society and White Horse Book Shop Literary Prize.

Highly Commended by the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize.

In Wilding, Isabella Tree tells the story of the ‘Knepp experiment’, a pioneering rewilding project in West Sussex, using free-roaming grazing animals to create new habitats for wildlife. Part gripping memoir, part fascinating account of the ecology of our countryside, Wilding is, above all, an inspiring story of hope.

Forced to accept that intensive farming on the heavy clay of their land at Knepp was economically unsustainable, Isabella Tree and her husband, Charlie Burrell, made a spectacular leap of faith: they decided to step back and let nature take over. Thanks to the introduction of free-roaming cattle, ponies, pigs and deer - proxies of the large animals that once roamed Britain - the 3,500 acre project has seen extraordinary increases in wildlife numbers and diversity in little over a decade.

Extremely rare species, including turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons, lesser spotted woodpeckers and purple emperor butterflies, are now breeding at Knepp, and populations of other species are rocketing. The Burrells’ degraded agricultural land has become a functioning ecosystem again, heaving with life - all by itself.

Personal and inspirational, Wilding is an astonishing account of the beauty and strength of nature, when it is given as much freedom as possible.

©2019 Isabella Tree (P)2019 Macmillan Publishers International Ltd

Critic reviews

"The remarkable story of an astounding transformation." (George Monbiot, author of Feral)

"A passionately personal, robustly argued and uplifting book.... One of the landmark ecological books of the decade." (Sunday Times 'Books of the Year')

What listeners say about Wilding

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Favourite Read of 2019

This is my favourite read/listen of 2019. I expected it to be an interesting record of how the rewilding project at Knepp came about and developed, and the details on this were fascinating. What I hadn't expected was for the book to be so stunningly written. Isabella Tree has a wonderful way with words, evoking Knepp, the habitats and the wildlife, beautifully. She also narrated the book very well.

18 people found this helpful

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A practical, reasoned approach to rewinding

Wilding is a really useful overview of the issues surrounding rewinding and views them in a pragmatic, optimistic way. As an ecologist and environmental science lecturer, I highly recommend this book, particularly for a post Brexit Britain.

15 people found this helpful

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Not for the fainthearted

This book should be must red by politicians, farmers, conservationists and all who have an interest in wildlife and the environment. It is both challenging and inspirational. Excellent the only disappointment was to finish it. If we are to combat the climate crisis and to restore the natural life of the UK, this book has much to teach us.

13 people found this helpful

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Revelatory and fascinating

George Monbiot’s “Feral” completely changed the way I view the British countryside, revealing it to be largely an ecological desert with nature holding on in relatively undisturbed places such as roadside verges.

Wilding builds on this by telling the remarkable story of how quickly and cheaply nature can be restored to a former arable farm simply by letting go. For me the most interesting revelation was that “conservation” as we know it is overly focussed on maintaining what is left whereas rewilding is all about bringing back what’s been lost. Isabella Tree’s book is very convincing in describing why this is so important.

11 people found this helpful

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  • 14-02-20

I didn't need a lecture

I only made it about a third of the way through this. A few months later I find myself accepting that there are so many books I'd rather read I'm never likely to come back and force myself to complete the chore of finishing this. I bought this expecting it to be a joyful read with the author enthusiastically sharing her passion for wildlife but the joy never came. Instead I felt harangued about the failures of humanity to see our impact on nature with many tragic consequences. I accept the truthfulness of this and there may have been more positivity in later chapters I never got to but I felt like the tone of it was one of being told off rather than encouragement to do better. Ultimately it wasn't what I was looking for.

10 people found this helpful

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Amazing

Opens your ears and eyes to the real silence of Nature in your area, so sad and yet inspiring, life is change, Isabella explains how a u turn can be started.

7 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

One of the most optimistic books I've ever read. Let's hope the idea catches on.

6 people found this helpful

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Fantastic story. Dull experience.

I am full of admiration for what Isabella Tree and her husband have achieved. But this book reads like an encyclopaedia and gets progressively more preachy

5 people found this helpful

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Inspiring and worrying in equal measure

Everyone who cares about the future should read this,very well researched and honestly written,although it is a shame to learn
that they still allow fox hunting on the estate

5 people found this helpful

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Fantastic reading.

This is a book every school teacher and child should read so as to save our species and planet. It is a very well read book by Isabella, she had me glued to this wonderful book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Karena
  • 23-06-19

Don't miss this book!

Captivating listening from start to finish. Woud love to visit Knepp and see for myself.