Feral

George Monbiot

★★★★★

 

We’re all aware of the fragile state of the natural world, with species like elephants, rhinos, lions and tigers (and many, many others) edging closer to extinction.

While conservation efforts are vital to ensure that endangered species survive, they have their limitations. By focusing on the survival of one or a limited number of species, engineering habits to suit them, you don’t allow natural processes to return. Whilst the endangered species may survive, it’s unlikely to thrive without a fully functioning habitat around it.

So what can be done to supplement conservation? Rewilding — leaving large areas of land to be ‘self-determined’ and letting nature run its course.

One passage that really struck a chord with me was Monbiot’s assertion that rewilding could see many barren treeless habitats (such as areas in Wales, northern England and the Scottish highlands) return to dense forest. In many cases it has been grazing (particularly by sheep) that has prevented this from happening. Remove the grazing and forest will return (small experiments have succeeded).

The really compelling part of this idea is that once the forests return, they’ll provide a habitat for many species that used to roam the UK — wolves, moose, reindeer. Although you might think (as I did) that our environment can’t support those kind of species, it actually used to — they only disappeared (for the most part) due to hunting. Allow the forests to return and those species could be reintroduced

Monbiot highlights how limited an opportunity our generation has to be in truly wild environments, and how much we’re missing out on. Children, he argues, should have access to wild areas where they can feel in touch with nature.

Along with making some pretty compelling arguments, Monbiot tells a slew of rewilding-related stories that are sure to grab you. Through his beautiful descriptions he communicates his passion for nature — it’s pretty infective.

 

FYI: I’ve also read Heat and The Age of Consent by George Monbiot.