Wilding - Isabella Tree

Staff Pick

If the roar of leaf blowers, chain saws, and other landscaping tools strikes you as a war on nature—that’s because it is. As Tree reports in her outstanding book about converting farmland back to wild land, after World War II “tanks converted to tractors; poison gas to pesticides and herbicides,” and humans managed the land more aggressively than ever. It’s been a deadly process. As insect “pests” have been eradicated, so have the earthworms, fungi, honey bees, and hosts of other creatures essential to healthy soil, and the soil itself has been turned into a hotbed of chemicals inimical to life. Like many landholders, Tree and her husband followed intensive modern farming methods on their Knepp Estate in West Sussex until, by 2000, it was too expensive to keep up. What would happen if they simply left things alone? They tried it—not without resistance from neighbors, who were outraged at the idea of land left “unproductive” on purpose—and what happened was amazing. The soil recovered. The waters ran clear. The grounds attracted butterflies, plants, and birds in numbers—and sometimes kinds—not seen in Britain in decades. Tree writes beautifully about this explosion of biodiversity; she’s genuinely charmed by nature’s ways and her vivid descriptions of life in its many, wondrous forms—from dung beetles to oak trees to her beloved turtle doves—aren’t just informative, they’re magical.

Wilding: Returning Nature to Our Farm Cover Image
By Isabella Tree, Eric Schlosser (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781681373713
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: New York Review Books - September 17th, 2019

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