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willoyd

Willoyd's Reading 2018

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That sounds like a great selection of books. It's so nice to start the new year with exciting new books! 

 

'At Hawthorn Time' sounds really interesting. I partly want to read it just to see if I can work out the ambiguous ending now!

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Wilding by Isabella Tree ******

The seventy-third and last book of the year, and what a book to finish on!  The author is married to Charles Burrell, and they own the Knepp estate in Sussex.  At the end of the twentieth century, they came to the conclusion that continuing to try farming it in the conventional high-intensity style was a dead end, and that it would lead to financial ruin.  They swapped track completely and started a programme of 'rewilding' the whole estate (although they actually avoid using that word as it has connotations which they want to avoid), inspired by work they observed in the Netherlands, intervening as little as possible and as much as possible letting nature take its course..  It is this programme that Wilding is about, twenty years down the line.

It's an absolutely fascinating insight, and very thought provoking, not least because of the number of prejudices, givens, and theories that they have helped challenge and break down.  An awful lot of conventional environmental thinking has been turned completely on its head!  The section on how Britain's natural vegetation is a mixed landscape, with 'messy' scrubland playing a vital part, and not just neat closed canopy woodland was one particular highlight, another the chapter detailing the issues of grain-fed as opposed to grass-fed cattle, but  at virtually every turn of the page I needed to pause to absorb, and to rethink much of what I've either learned or accepted.  I loved picking up little snippets, such as when, near the start of the project, the newly introduced Tamworth pigs were allowed to roam free, and started digging up all the verges and public footpaths (neatly along the lines!) simply because they were the only 'unimproved' areas of soil - all the cultivated land was too poor to attract them. 

Britain is one of the most (if not the most) nature-deprived countries in Europe, perhaps the world. At a time when this deprivation is accelerating ever faster (the last 20 years have been a disaster environmentally and for health in this country, not least with farming encouraged into ever higher intensity practices), it was good to read about a practical project that shows that we can do something about it beyond the simplistic creation of small nature reserve islands, although it was scary to see quite how far gone we are.  What made this book particularly outstanding though is the combination of what I learned and the readability, passion, and background science with which it was put over.  I just hope we are prepared to learn in time.

Edited by willoyd

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Great review! Wilding sounds like something I would enjoy, so I have added it to my wishlist. :)

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