Feral – Rewilding the Land, the Sea and Human Life by George Monbiot: Book Review

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Rewilding, paradoxically, should take place for the benefit of people, to enhance the world in which we live, and not for the sake of an abstraction we call Nature.

This book is about rewilding. The concept of rewilding is vague and has different meanings depending on who you talk to. George Monbiot does a wonderful job of both explaining what rewilding is to him, and all many other shades of definition that exist.

I was entranced by the visions of epic forests filled with lynx, wolves, and other wild animals. As a child I would escape into woods wherever I could find them and pretend that these animals might exist; now that I know they could, if enough people shared the same vision, I have a tiny burst of hope that the wild might come back to our sculpted, sheepwrecked land.

Monbiot makes an important point on this topic of consent:

“Nevertheless, like all visions, rewilding must be constantly questioned and challenged. It should happen only with the consent and enthusiasm of those who work on the land. It must never be used as an instrument of expropriation or dispossession…”

He does then continue on to say that

“Rewilding, paradoxically, should take place for the benefit of people, to enhance the world in which we live, and not for the sake of an abstraction we call Nature.”

In each chapter, Monbiot depicts a different voyage, walk, exploration of the natural world. His writing style is lyrical and does a wonderful job of expressing how he feels about what he sees. For example, in his chapter named ‘Sheepwrecked’, the landscape is described as being in a state of destruction, and you can see how he is almost heartbroken by that.

…like all visions, rewilding must be constantly questioned and challenged.

No matter what side you believe you stand on when it comes to rewilding, this book is definitely something you should read. There is so much information from studies and interviews, carefully conveyed, that without that knowledge I don’t think either side can begin to discuss the topic with clarity. Having said that, I don’t think many people are on one side or the other: as always, most of us are somewhere in between. Even Monbiot has his moments (as in the chapter entitled ‘Hushings’) of doubt, or at least he is forced to think more about those who would be negatively affected by huge amounts of rewilding.

This is an incredible book. Dreams of truly wild flora and fauna thriving on landscape that was once in a state of destruction will stay with me forever.

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