Dec 26, 2019

The story of 'Wilding' by Isobella Tree (Picador 2018) should not be taken as a get out of jail card, an excuse for avoiding the need for substantial carbon reductions from our urban/modern lifestyles. However it does suggest that we should have reason to hope that ecological approaches to managing our countryside could result in significant regeneration of natural systems. As carbon is stored in plants, and even more in soils, the regeneration of nature/biodiversity is likely to be an essential part of the response to the climate and ecological emergency. For those who need to have hope and for 'stubborn optimists', the story of Knepp does show the benefits of working with nature works in all dimensions; socially (being good for people and communities), economically (with changes to how natural systems are valued), environmentally and good for the soul (mental health and wellbeing). The story is fundamentally one of 'learning' (see the Family Emergency Declaration); by those active in managing the land/water, those accessing the site, and the experts and bureaucrats who have been touched by the project.

The question of how (re)wilding can be encouraged throughout the countryside (and definitely not just the UK) could and should be one of the pre-occupations of those acknowledging the climate and ecological emergency. And this will need to involve reversing the trends moving in the wrong direction; mining, deforestation, forest fires, agricultural intensification/monocultures, droughts etc.