Books

Below are some recent publications that provide excellent narratives on rewilding, biodiversity and other related topics. Books are ordered by year of publication (most recent first) and then alphabetically by author surname — all are well worth a read, no matter where they appear on the list!


Cottongrass Summer: Essays of a naturalist through the year

Roy Dennis, 2020, ISBN-13: 978-1912235889

This is a collection of 52 short essays by someone who has been a leader in conservation for over 60 years. It’s a thoroughly absorbing book, and every essay is a compelling read to the point that I struggled to put this book down until I’d finished it. It also doesn’t shy away from some of the more challenging issues facing our natural world and there is an undertone that screams “stop messing about and just get on with it!” (Review by John Hartshorn)

English Pastoral: An Inheritance

James Rebanks, 2020, ISBN-13: 978-0241245729

Rebanks’ latest book takes us full circle from when he first fell in love with farming on his grandad’s mixed, rotational upland farm, to the present, when he has found again a deep understanding of the land and a desire to make it a haven for all life. Along the way, he shows how the gradual intensification of the small farms of Cumbria had such a destructive effect not only on wildlife but also on the lives of the families and communities that had always been so intricately bound up with the health of the land. By giving us the perspective of a working farmer, he explains how small farms were dragged into the ‘new way’ whether they wanted to or not. No-one set out to exclude natural processes, but over time they could see how much was lost – and now the tide seems at last to be turning back towards smaller scale, wildlife-friendly farming again. (Review by Jessica Penrose)

Bringing Back the Beaver – The Story of One Man’s Quest to Rewild Britain’s Waterways

Derek Gow, 2020 ISBN-13: 978-1603589963

This book is the story of the Eurasian beaver in Britain, from it’s persecution to the point of extinction some 400 years ago, through to the sometimes shocking and extraordinary barriers and bureaucracy that have hindered its reintroduction in modern times.   It is, however, a story of hope, determination and optimism – and, at times, sheer bloody mindedness!  There can’t be much that Derek Gow doesn’t know about beavers, and his respect for and appreciation of this animal shines through.  This book explains why this keystone species has such an important role to play in rewilding.  Derek has been at the forefront of the reintroduction efforts and tells his tale with humour and aplomb. (Review by Debbie Davitt)

Rewilding: The Radical New Science of Ecological Recovery

Paul Jepson and Cain Blythe, 2020, ISBN-13: 978-1785786273

A short and readable book that summarises the thinking and science behind rewilding. If that sounds a bit heavy, it’s not.  This book explains really well how this new ecological approach is different from existing attitudes to conservation and how and why it can feel threatening to some people.  The final chapter boldly gives ten predictions for the future of rewilding, which suggests this outsider will soon become mainstream.  (Review by Debbie Davitt)

Rebirding

Benedict Macdonald, 2020, ISBN-13: 978-1784271879

Winner of the 2020 Wainwright Price for Writing on Global Conservation, this is a stunningly good book that just flows well from section to section, backing every assertion and anecdote up with other referenced publications. Many readers will go through everything from despondence to hope whilst reading this. (Review by John Hartshorn)

The Bear in the Stars

Alexis Snell, 2020, ISBN-13: 978-0241441909

Have you ever wondered how to share the challenges of the modern world with a young child in a manner that leaves them hopeful for a better future? Then ‘The Bear in the Stars’ by Yorkshire artist Alexis Snell might be just what you need. The story is a fable about climate change, told through the imagined experience of a polar bear that is forced to leave her natural home. “She soon discovers a world that is growing hotter while hearts grow colder – until one small act of kindness changes everything.” Alexis has beautifully illustrated her story with lino cuts that move from blues, through reds to greens as the world recovers. Follow this link to see the artist at work. (Review by Jenny Watson, YRN Secretary)

Rewild Your Garden – Create a Haven for Birds, Bees and Butterflies

Frances Tophill, 2020, ISBN-13: 978-1529410259

A great book for gardeners of all levels who want to learn how to share their plot with wildlife. It is clearly set out with lots of useful information and practical tips, not too daunting, easy to dip into and full of colourful, charming illustrations. For many of the common garden activities Frances explains and compares the different approaches of ‘traditional gardening’, ‘wildlife gardening’ and ‘full rewilding’. This is really helpful and allows the reader to choose for themselves how much – or little – intervention they are comfortable with and how to deal with one part of their garden at a time.

This attractive book would make an excellent gift. (Review by Debbie Davitt)

The Missing Lynx

Ross Barnett, 2019, ISBN-13: 978-1472957344

This one talks through the megafauna that we’ve had and lost since our species’ arrival in the UK (and elsewhere), bringing it vividly to life and pointing the finger of blame squarely at ourselves as the main suspect behind its demise. There is humour throughout, despite the sorry tales of woe it lays before us, and Ross’s writing style is very natural and highly engaging. (Review by John Hartshorn)

The Hidden World of the Fox

Adele Brand, 2019, ISBN-13: 978-0008327286

Really informative with a very natural narrative style and some excellent observational humour. (Review by John Hartshorn)

Rewilding (Ecological Reviews)

Nathalie Pettorelli (Editor), Sarah M. Durant (Editor), Johan T. du Toit (Editor), 2019, ISBN-13: 978-1108460125

A very recent collection of 20 papers from leading academics in the field of ecological restoration and rewilding. An excellent read if you want to develop a good, objective grasp of the history, science, and social aspects of rewilding. Expect a more academic style of writing as compared to some of the other books on the list. (Review by John Hartshorn)

Europe: The First 100 Million Years

Tim Flannery, 2019, ISBN-13: 978-0141989020

Structured into a fairly large number of short chapters makes this a “just one more chapter before…” sort of a read. A fascinating history down the eons, with a wonderful time machine that really helps paint a picture of landscapes, fauna, and flora long gone. Another book that might be really hard to put down. (Review by John Hartshorn)

The Secret Network of Nature

Peter Wohlleben, 2019, ISBN-13: 978-1784708498

A wonderful and often humorous book detailing interconnectivity of everything in the natural world, from a well known author and forester based in Germany. (Review by John Hartshorn)

Our Place – Can We Save Britain’s Wildife Before It Is Too Late?

Mark Cocker, 2018, ISBN-13: 978-0224102292

A very informative book, particularly in relation to how much of the UK came to be owned and controlled by so few. It has quite a serious tone and there is quite a large amount of information and a number of referenced clarifications that you’re directed to in the main body of the text. (Review by John Hartshorn)

Wilding – The return of nature to a British farm

Isabella Tree, 2018, ISBN-13: 978-1509805099

Considered to be one of the definitive narratives on modern rewilding, this is an inspiring case study that describes how natural processes can re-establish and nature can return, whilst also creating viable new opportunities for the land owner. (Review by John Hartshorn)

Wild Kingdom

Stephen Moss, 2017, ISBN-13: 978-0099581635

This one from the original producer of BAFTA award-winning TV series Springwatch reminds us of all the problems that wildlife faces in the UK. However, it presents many examples of more positive changes that are happening, and it’s written in a lovely, informal style. (Review by John Hartshorn)

What Nature Does For Britain

Tony Juniper, 2015, ISBN-13: 978-1781253281

For fans of ‘natural capital’ and ‘ecosystem services’, this excellent book explains about all the free-of-charge work that nature does for us here in Britain, and yet all the damage we do to that nature and the natural systems that we rely on. It provides some great examples of how this damage can be, and is being, put right for both our health and wellbeing, as well as that of our economy and, of course, nature itself. (Review by John Hartshorn)

Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea and Human Life Paperback

George Monbiot, 2014, ISBN-13: 978-0141975580

This is a pulls-no-punches, often controversial and divisive narrative about many of the problems that underpin biodiversity loss. Given it’s publication date of 2014, this is probably the original high profile scene-setter. (Review by John Hartshorn)