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Rebirding: Rewilding Britain and its Birds

4.63  ·  Rating details ·  215 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Rebirding takes the long view of Britain’s wildlife decline, from the early taming of our landscape and its long-lost elephants and rhinos, to fenland drainage, the removal of cornerstone species such as wild cattle, horses, beavers and boar – and forward in time to the intensification of our modern landscapes and the collapse of invertebrate populations.

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Kindle Edition, 300 pages
Published April 8th 2019 by Pelagic Publishing
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Michelle Styles
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people but the appalling silence and indifference of the good. Our generation will have to repent not only for the words and actions of the children of darkness but also for the fears and apathy of the children of light.
--Martin Luther King Jr
I number myself among those who were complacently smug about their approach to the environment, particul
Nature as a whole is in decline. We are part of the natural world have taken it upon ourselves to make sure that we live in the most unsustainable and destructive way possible. The collapse of invertebrates has rippled all the way up the food chain as each species reaches their specific tipping point and are suddenly gone from our landscapes. In the UK there are almost no areas of the land that haven’t been touched or manipulated in some way by mankind.

Even though the decline has been happening
British birds have evolved over millennia, part of the ecosystem which developed as the glaciers retreated, then as humans settled and farmed. They evolved in a landscape populated by the large mammals which are now extinct - aurochs, wolf, boar, lynx - and some have adapted to our farms. Over the centuries, populations and diversity have declined to the drastic point we see today where many birds are on the brink of extinction.
How do we bring them back? MacDonald's thesis is that rather than co
George Cook
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Redbirding is a fantastic book. Extremely informative while holding a great story through from the dewilding of the past through to rewilding solutions of the future.

It is truly mind blowing that 16% of the UKs land is given out to grouse and deer parks adding virtually nothing to the economy, used by virtually no one and destroying wildlife. 88% of Wales is grazed by sheep. An industry almost completely held up by government subsidies. The more I learn about animal agriculture the more insane
Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned a lot from reading this book and enjoyed it very much. It tells a very important story of the wonderful rich wildlife Britain once had, how much we have lost and why, and how we can bring it back. It is interspersed throughout with lots of facts, interesting information and also vivid descriptions of what living with much more beautiful nature around us could be like. It also shows how urgently our attitudes towards nature and conservation need to change in this country to prevent the ...more
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic read on nature and what we should do next, very carefully researched and referenced which could easily lead you - me - on a trail from another manifesto for future generations to the next.
Nicky Scott
Dec 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
essential book for our time. A blueprint for urgent action to radically transform our ailing landscape and reverse ecological collapse with such an exciting vision. The RSPB started out with bold activism from a few women taking on the disgusting trade in exotic plumes for hats, now we need to see the RSPB step up and buy large tracts of land for wilding.
Neil Crossley
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A cogent and thought provoking at what is needed to restore cuckoos, turtle doves, lesser spotted woodpeckers and red shrikes to our landscape - in short landscape scale rewilding. The action of 6 big land uses have destroyed our natural heritage - dairy, cereal, deer stalking, grouse shooting, forestry and upland sheep farming. The successful lobbying got designation of the Lake District by subsidised sheep farmers who create a “dessert” for wildlife as a UNESCO site a disaster. The New Forest, ...more
Mar 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well articulated look at the British landscape and its failure to support functioning ecosystems. This book focuses on birds, but large herbivores and beavers and the like are needed as the ecosystem architects that will allow Britains bird life to flourish.

Some revolutionary (to me) ideas within this volume: For the longest time that fact that humans had either wiped out or outcopeted by stealing the food source of all the large herbivores that used to exist within the British landscape did not
Jackie McGarry
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book helped me understand the intimate relationship between a bird and the environment it needs to survive and thrive and how this can't be achieved by preserving small pockets of land. Rewilding is needed on a far bigger scale and we have the room in this country to provide it. So much of that land is currently mismanaged for grouse shooting, deer hunting (in Scotland) or uneconomic, heavily subsidised sheep farming and dairy farming. The book compares the UK to other European nations, esp ...more
Mr S
Feb 10, 2021 rated it liked it
The author creates a fantastic vision for the restoration of nature and wildlife to Britain, much of which is certainly achievable. However, he does position himself as the authority on the subject, suggesting that it is nature conservation charities who are the ones that need to bare the brunt of the responsibility, despite previously pointing out that it is big industry that has created the problems.
There are some erroneous presumptions too, that nature charities should look to landscape-scale
Robert Kidd
May 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Over this Covid-ridden year I think I've read three of the most important books that have been written in the last ten years, visionary books that don’t pull any punches when it comes to facing up to the genocide we’ve inflicted on the natural world and our countryside. George Monbiot's 'Feral', gives you a passionate, heartfelt flavour of the dessert we are now living in, and points to the damage we’re doing to our own psyches. Isabella Trees' 'Rewilding', not only gives you all the facts and i ...more
Julian Walker
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved the concept and also how he takes you along the journey with him. This is hugely readable and accessible to people like with me with a relatively limited understanding of wildlife and nature (beyond being a fan).

The author uses some truly startling facts and illustrations to paint a picture of what could be - the real question is will there be enough people out there prepared to help Britain achieve its true potential as he proposes.

I do hope so, as the future he describes is in
Steve Sreeves
May 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Rebirding is an absolutely fascinating book, and one that I think anyone who is interested in British nature and wildlife should read. It took a bit of perseverance for me to get into, as the first few chapters are a bit depressing - but this simply highlights the dire situation that british wildlife is in.
Its amazing how much is simply taken as being the norm - uplands decimated by sheep farming, moorlands razed for the grouse industry, and suburbs sanitized into blandness.
The brilliant thing
David Edmonds
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
This is a really important book for anyone who cares about the way that much of the UK's wildlife has been destroyed over the last 50 years. It is even more important for anyone who can help to put this right, as there is hope that many lost or diminished bird species can be returned to our plentiful rural landscape with careful rewilding, overturning the domination of pesticide and articficial fertiliser based agriculture, hill farming for uneconomic sheep, and grouse farming on moorlands in th ...more
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
A recommendation as part of a ’nature’ book club and not something I would probably have picked up on my own, but I am really glad that I read it. Learnt a lot about the loss of insects and birdlife, and how this is due to intensive use of insecticides and destruction of habitat, but also how sheep farming, dairy farming and especially grouse and deer farming are playing a significant part. Found it very interesting and I hope that it is widely read and acted upon as it seems that a return to a ...more
Neil Limbert
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant. Staggeringly depressive at times but then it has to be, as we need to be told things straight. Compelling reading throughout, especially when we read how things can be so different as in Germany, Netherlands, Poland etc. We just need a new mindset and rewilding on a big scale. And it will be economically viable. In fact, almost certainly miles better than the struggling hill farms we have today. This book is important and I can see why it won awards. And it has also given m ...more
Justin Russell
Mar 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic book!! It is upsetting how a country of nature lovers can let our own homeland become so devoid of wildlife. From the subsidised dairy and sheep farms and the massive grouse estates there are clearly opportunities for the owners to welcome back nature and make a profit. Its frustrating that stubborn attitudes prevent us from making headway. This book details all that is wrong and provides a blueprint for a wilder future. We can all play our part from our gardens to our National parks ...more
Gael Impiazzi
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an inspiring read, if you survive the gloom of the first few chapters.
Fascinating, full of well-researched detail, and carrying a vision of a future full of wildlife. I was amazed at the comparison between Britain's denuded nature, and the the wilder landscapes of Eastern Europe. And I was saddened and embarrassed too by the sanitised inequality of British land management.
We deserve better, as does our wildlife.
Hilary May
Nov 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Inspiring and in many ways more hopeful than’Wilding’ and some of the other books I’ve read recently. I loved the visions of the future sections but really wanted to know what I could do to help achieve these. Like all these books I feel that this one will only be read by people like me who are already interested in this subject. There is a need for a really populist book/tv programme to show what could be achieved on a landscape scale. That and a campaign to combat tidiness disorder!
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really important book, setting out a strong argument and compelling vision for rewilding large parts of Britain. Makes the case over and over for the impact this would have on wildlife, landscape and a thriving ecotourism industry. Has left me excited for what our landscape could be like and wondering how I can be part of the change. I would give five stars if the writing had flowed better.
Roger Morgan-Grenville
Feb 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Fascinating book about a far-too-often ignored subject, and a devastating critique of how we have allowed our bird populations to crash whilst much of Europe have held on to theirs. The missing fifth star is because I occasionally felt that the problems, and solutions, were a bit more nuanced than he was giving them credit for.
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ambitious and meticulously researched, rebirding does what few books ever manage: it gets the reader to reevaluate their assumptions. MacDonald's tightly structured narrative forces you to ask "what is natural?", and then offers a brighter vision for a better future. I hope it comes to pass. ...more
Apr 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating, interesting and exciting book. If I lived in the UK I would lobby for a doco so more people could dream about a Britain where wildlife habitats are expanded and biodiversity is seen to increase.
Amanda Jones
Apr 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book about realistic nature and nurture. It gives a clear and refreshing approach to rewilding by looking at our relationship with wildlife and how we adapt. Nature has had to keep up with us for centuries and this forms a positive position in how we can live better in harmony.
Joe Tristram
Apr 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely inspiring, and a call to action! An essential companion to Wilding by Isabella Tree, and like it, that light we all need to bring hope in our dark times of ecological crash and climate crisis. These two books show us the way to go.
Vida Rajkovaca
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Extraordinary piece of good research that is also quite poetic at times. Unforgiving that MacDonald hasn't covered the Fens, but a really good book overall. ...more
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant book. Highly recommend
Jack Hirst
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book, everyone with an interest in Nature, Wildlife, Countryside, Farming, the economy and pretty much everything else needs to read this!
Malcolm Balster
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If only the large nature charities would take on the ideas in this book, the UK would be a much better place for nature. Less management and more letting nature take its course.
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