Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding Hardcover – 30 May 2013
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Feral has really opened my mind to the history and possibilities of our landscape. It reflects a very real need in us all right now to be released from our claustrophobic monoculture and sense of powerlessness. To break the straight lines into endless branches. To free our land from its absent administrators. To rewild both the landscape and ourselves. It is the most positive and daring environmental book I have read. In order to change our world you have to be able to see a better one. I think George has done that (Thom Yorke)
Part personal journal, part rigorous (and riveting) natural history, but above all unbridled vision for a less cowed, more self-willed planet, this is a book that will change the way you think about the natural world, and your place in it. Big, bold and beautifully written, his vision of a rewilded world is, well, truly captivating (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)
It could not be more rigorously researched, more elegantly delivered, or more timely. We need such big thinking for our own sakes and those of our children. Bring on the wolves and whales, I say, and, in the words of Maurice Sendak, let the wild rumpus start (Philip Hoare Sunday Telegraph (Book of the Week))
The world knows George Monbiot mostly from his powerful and perceptive journalism. But this is a whole different order of writing and thinking, a primal account of an unstifled world (Bill McKibben)
George Monbiot is always original - both in the intelligence of his opinions and the depth and rigour of his research. In this unusual book he presents a persuasive argument for a new future for the planet, one in which we consciously progress from just conserving nature to actively rebuilding it (Brian Eno)
A Book of Revelations for our times (Farley Mowat)
[Praise for George Monbiot]: A dazzling command of science and a relentless faith in people (Naomi Klein)
About the Author
George Monbiot studied zoology at Oxford, but his real education began when he travelled to Brazil in his twenties and joined the resistance movement defending the land of peasant farmers. Since then he has spent his career as a journalist and environmentalist, working with others to defend the natural world he loves. His celebrated Guardian columns are syndicated all over the world. Monbiot is the author of the bestselling books Captive State, The Age of Consent, Bring on the Apocalypse and Heat, as well as the investigative travel books Poisoned Arrows, Amazon Watershed and No Man's Land. Among the many prizes he has won is the UN Global 500 award for outstanding environmental achievement, presented to him by Nelson Mandela.
Top customer reviews
Some of it I found depressing and really wonder what the future holds for the UK's natural environment...is there any hope? there needs to be a change in attitude and a revolution.
In reality this is almost two books rather than one – the first is about developing a greater connection between people and the land on which they live. This is ‘re-wilding people’. The second is about taking a less interventionist approach to wildlife management, by allowing nature a freer hand to build new ecosystems.
The first is a reasonably well-trodden path - and is based on the assumption that people and the land do better when they are connected. Connection. Interest. Care. Passion. And in the end, survival. This all seems to make sense.
The second theme of the book – actually re-wilding landscape – is probably a little more contentious. Especially as one of the key things that the author suggests in terms of re-wilding the landscape is the re-introduction of large predators – such as wolves – to some ecosystems. While any such introduction would clearly rely on human intervention in its early stages, the idea is to re-establish the kind of ecological processes that have been removed from many ecosystems by humans.
There is little doubt that conventional conservation management is not always successful – with large areas (the book really takes most examples from the UK) being maintained in some sort of agriculture dominated state – the classic example here being the UKs uplands which are often just sheep, deer or grouse maintained habitats, which lack the diversity they once had.
I think there needs to a well informed debate about how land is managed into the future – and this book is as good a place as any to start thinking about what this debate could mean or should include.
The prose can be a bit tedious sometimes. It's clear that Monbiot is in love with his surroundings, but sometimes he's descriptions go on a bit too long (although there's some nice imagery in there). I was more interested in the factual and historical information that he was presenting.
It's kind of essential reading to be honest. After you've read it, you kind of want everyone else to do so. Not because you enjoyed it so much, but you get the idea that this arguments/ideas are important and need momentum.
George Monbiot is a well-known environmentalist. He has a regular column in the Guardian newspaper, writes occasionally for a number of other publications (all his articles can be viewed on the clutter free website [...] and a number of books already under his name. As a child, I sometimes dreamed of 'saving the rainforest' and probably for this reason Monbiot became a natural role model as I grew up, even though he quickly destroyed my overly simplistic views of 'good' conservationists vs the 'bad' deforesters. His writing is broad, encapsulating the links between many different elements of what is, invariably, a more complex problem than what first impressions indicate. In the mid 2000s, George Monbiot took-on the 'greatest environmental threat' - climate change - almost head-on in his acclaimed book Heat: How We Can Stop the Planet Burning. This provided motivation for me to seek solutions, not only on some abstract policy level, but in my everyday life.
Fast-forward five years. Instead of fretting over our collective failure to overcome society's enduring addiction to fossil fuels, it is refreshing to see that Monbiot has moved on. Environmental problems are big and, due partly to the long timespans over which they develop, can seem intractible. Instead of discussing the problem, in this case lack of wild or 'self-willed' ecosystems, from an abstract perspective, Monbiot dives into some vivid descriptions of experiences in the wilderness. Contrast this with the monotony of everyday life and it becomes apparent that many people are suffering from ecological boredom. We have got to the point in which opening a poorly designed bag of nuts constitutes the most exciting manual task of the day! The escapism of video games and the many other distractions of the modern world is provided as anecdotal evidence for this, alongside a wealth of peer-reviewed literature on nature deficit disorder provides an undeniable argument: we need to re-engage with nature.
As Monbiot has himself said elsewhere, the underlying concept of this book is a simple one. It is eloquently written, yet succinct and without excessive diversions. The personal story that provides the backdrop to the ideas presented is not self-indulgent, but clear, concise and at times brutal.
Regarding the actual policies that he is proposing, George Monbiot seems to have moved further towards the 'pragmatist' camp of environmentalism since the The Age of Consent, in which global issues are tackled head-on and the real-politik of potential solutions are apparently hammered-out (disclaimer: I've not read the book). Older and perhaps wiser, the solutions in Feral are less complex and eminently more feasible. These include (in the order that they are presented in the book) the return of trees and 'keystone species' such as the moose and otter to low-intensity farmland; a reduction in overgrazing in 'Sheepwrecked' uplands, and the enforcement of 'no fish zones'. All of these could easily have economic benefits that dwarf their costs over time, even for the farmers and fishing industries that currently resist any whiff of environmentally beneficial regulation. The description of whales as a keystone species with the potential to fertilise the seas and sequester large volumes of carbon dioxide in the process in "Rewilding the Sea" was particularly interesting, and supported with ample peer-reviewed literature to persuade even the most hard-nosed 'factivist'.
Ultimately this book is not about facts, though, but about our inbuilt need to interact with nature, the wider benefits this could bring, and practical steps towards making it happen. I heartily recommend this book to anyone: young and old; deep environmentalist or environmental skeptic;high-powered businessman or local forager. The ideas will change the way you think about nature and, at the very least, encourage you get out there more often.
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