Rebirding by Benedict MacDonald

4.5 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Nature as a whole is in decline. We are part of the natural world have taken it upon ourselves to make sure that we live in the most unsustainable and destructive way possible. The collapse of invertebrates has rippled all the way up the food chain as each species reaches their specific tipping point and are suddenly gone from our landscapes. In the UK there are almost no areas of the land that haven’t been touched or manipulated in some way by mankind.

Even though the decline has been happening for a long time, it is only in the past few decades that the dramatic drop in numbers of all species has become very evident. The act of strimming, weed killing and obliterating anything that looks slightly scruffy form our urban and rural landscapes has been the final death knell. The memory of the way that the landscape and natural world used to be, has almost faded from our collective memories.

But some people have had enough, there is a growing backlash against the vested interests and status quo; Benedict MacDonald is amongst that number. In this book Rebirding, he is looking at the ways that we can bring the life back into our skies in practical and profitable ways. There are various ways of doing this and reintroduction have been successful, in particular with kites and the great bustard. But more is needed urgently.

He looks at the various national parks that we have and the current state of the SSSIs and nature reserves and how they are doing. One of the criticisms that he has about them is that they are managing their particular area in a way that is detrimental to the long term health of the site. The key to bringing back wildlife of all shapes and sizes is to bring back the large mammals and predators to our landscapes and just let them get on with it.

One place that this has been happening is the Knepp Estate, primitive species of cows and horses and pigs have been allowed to wander pretty much anywhere in the estate and the changes that they have brought about have been staggering. The habitats have returned and with them has come species that haven’t been seen in years. The flip side of this is that their neighbours are not particularly happy about the untidiness of the estate. Another key behind this is the revert to a scruffy form of land control. Leave things on the margins, don’t cut verges back until later in the summer and wildlife will find the way.

I thought that this was a well researched and more importantly a well-written book about rewilding. Coming at the subject from a desire to see a sizable increase in the number of species in and around our landscapes is laudable, birds are his passion after all. One that every conservationist should read, along with Wilding by Isabella Tree and Rewilding by Paul Jepson & Cain Blythe, all books that have drawn similar conclusions from practical experiments that are being run in various places around the world.

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  1. Liz Dexter

    I’ve bough this plus the Isabella Tree for my best friend for her birthday – we’re doing the Tree once we’ve finished Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Racism, and I am going to get this for myself, too. So I’m saving your review for another comment in what I’ll call the Fullness of Time …

    • Paul

      Isabella Tree’s book is fantastic. I have her travel book waiting for me at the library. My brother in law was reading it so I have passed this to him for the moment

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