Author: Isabella Tree
Genre: Non-Fiction/Natural World Pages: 384
First published: 2018
Edition: Audio Book (& Hardback)
Forced to accept that intensive farming on the heavy clay of their land at Knepp in West Sussex 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.
I had a feeling I was going to love this book. I love books that are about someone going on some sort of journey and learning about a subject with them. This kind of felt like that and it felt like a revelation.
As I followed this couple with a farming background return their estate in Sussex to a natural state (or as close as possible with modern rules and regulations in place) I learned what nature actually means. I discovered how manufactured what I think of as nature actually is. But what I learned most is how Mother Nature in all her glory knows exactly what is best for her. One creature’s actions can cause a chain reaction with far reaching consequences for all the creatures and plants around it. This goes for us humans, but also for a Tamworth pig or a beaver.
Of course I loved hearing about nightingales and butterflies, deer and Exmoor ponies, but surprisingly I found the passages on farming incredibly interesting. Both in how farming and government incentives have helped destroy our natural diversity and health and how changing farming practices can be our saving grace. This book deals with a lot of environmental arguments and it made me much more aware about the world around me and how we can still turn things around. I found it both profoundly sad, but also gave me hope for a brighter future.
I am not doing justice to this gem of a book, but if you are at all interested in nature and the environment, this is a must-read book.
7 out of 7 stars