Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Wilding” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.49  ·  Rating details ·  4,177 ratings  ·  670 reviews
Forced to accept that intensive farming on the heavy clay of their land at Knepp in West Sussex was economically unsustainable, Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell made a spectacular leap of faith: they decided to step back and let nature take over. Thanks to the introduction of free-roaming cattle, ponies, pigs and deer – proxies of the large animals that once r ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 3rd 2018 by Picador
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Wilding, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Seth I couldn't stop reading this book because it was so compelling and interesting. I'm not sure it's for everyone, but this is the first book I've finish…moreI couldn't stop reading this book because it was so compelling and interesting. I'm not sure it's for everyone, but this is the first book I've finished in years. I couldn't stop thinking about it.(less)
Jennifer They do the best they can for minimal intervention. But faced with animal cruelty laws concerning starvation issues, they do cull only when needed, wi…moreThey do the best they can for minimal intervention. But faced with animal cruelty laws concerning starvation issues, they do cull only when needed, with funds raised by the culls. They would in future have preferred not to as they wanted to encompass the entire cycle of natural regeneration including the natural decomposition of life forms and what they contribute to other wildlife in the area, but legally they can't. No hunting and they even frown on loose dogs of dog walkers. The area is open to the public. Because it is an enclosed area, resources for animals are finite, so they had to find a solution.(less)
Feral by George MonbiotWilding by Isabella TreeRebirding by Benedict MacDonaldLawns Into Meadows by Owen WormserThe Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan
66 books — 15 voters
Silent Spring by Rachel CarsonA Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo LeopoldThe Lorax by Dr. SeussThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanDesert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Best Environmental Books
915 books — 1,116 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,177 ratings  ·  670 reviews

Sort order
Start your review of Wilding
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There probably isn’t any higher praise for ‘Wilding’ than to say that, upon finishing it, I wholeheartedly wished I could buy a farm and let it turn into a wildlife haven. The story of a rewilded Sussex farm reminded me how grateful I am to have been taught by my parents to notice and appreciate wildlife. (Even though as a child I often complained about being dragged away from my books to see a meadow of orchids.) The aptly named Isabella Tree recounts how she and her husband abandoned intensive ...more
K.J. Charles
Fascinating, wonderful and hopeful. The author and her baronet husband, unable to survive as Sussex farmers, give up and turn the land back to the wild. The resulting explosion of wildlife is enough to raise the hairs on your arms. Britain's biodiversity is awful, our bird and insect populations are crashing, but it could be saved if people cared to do it. The stubborn human resistance and selfishness shown here is enraging.

To note: fallow land can be a massive carbon sink and flood plains and
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, 5-stars
Surrendering the management of nature to nature…

I think that sometimes when people write “This is an important book” what they mean is “Finally I have found a book that agrees with me.” At the risk of falling into that trap, I’m going to start by saying this is an important book.

When Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell realised that it was not economically feasible to continue their farming of land in Knepp, West Sussex, they made a bold and radical decision: they decided to step away
Kirsten McKenzie
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the first book I've ever read where I consider it an honour that it exists for me to read.
The rewilding of Knepp Castle Estate should be a blueprint for every council, government, municipality, environmental organisation, livestock owner, farmer, consumer.
The words Isabella Tree uses to describe the journey from unprofitable farm, to a haven for endangered species and reintroduced species are magical. This book is not a heavy scientific tome but it contains enough information to
Knepp may be a familiar name if you follow British environmental news: it’s synonymous with what’s known as rewilding. Tree’s husband, Sir Charlie Burrell, inherited the estate in 1987 and tried running it as an intensified dairy farm, but the enterprise was bleeding money and in 2000 they gave up and let the land return to nature. That wasn’t a totally hands-off process, though; it involved restoring the forest and river ecosystems and reintroducing traditional species like fallow deer, Exmoor ...more
Isabel Losada
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Undoubtedly one the most important books that I've ever read. The simple illustration on the front of the beautiful cover perhaps deceiving the casual bookshop browser into not realising that this book is as important as it is. As well as the fact that within it are solutions that could do no less than save us all, and the planet for our children and our children's children - personally I found it hugely consoling. It consoles
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In a world where almost all news about nature is painful and depressing, this hope-filled, fascinating and informative book is balm to the soul. Highly recommended.
Apr 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wilding (2018) is Isabella Tree's account of how the Knepp estate in West Sussex changed from being a farm to a more natural environment. It's wonderful. Inspiring, informative and passionate. I learnt so much about how nature, left to its own devices, can transform an estate laid bare after decades of intensive agriculture into a rich, diverse ecosystem.

Isabella and her husband Charlie Burrell have also introduced Exmoor ponies, longhorn cattle, red deer and Tamworth pigs which are allowed to r
Rewilding and ecological restoration narratives are still a very tiny genre of nonfiction, so I'm always excited to see a new one. Most of the reasons I love them are probably obvious: they're stories about nature that aren't just positive, but also proactive, progressive, and full of tantalizing hints of unexpected ecological mechanisms. The first half of this book does all of that pretty well. Unlike some of these books, there really isn't much memoir to it. The story Tree tells is about her l ...more
Their land at Knepp in West Sussex had been farmed by them and the family before, for years, but it had reached the point where the farm had become unviable as a business. Not sure what to do with the land, Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell made that decision to let nature take over again. Fences were taken up and they selected some hardy breeds of pigs, Exmoor ponies and cattle to wander freely around the 3500 acres site.

Wildlife under the modern capitalist economies is taking an ab
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
It took me a long time to read this book and that’s because, well, I found it boring. Don’t get me wrong, the overall thrust of it - the rewilding of the Knepp estate and the extraordinary increase in biodiversity there - is fascinating. But the bulk of the book is not given over to recounting, describing or exploring the project. Instead it’s a repetitive exercise in justifying it, circling the same concepts and revisiting old arguments with Natural England and government representatives. I sup ...more
Jonathan Perks
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book on the importance of recognising that modern agriculture needs to re-embrace the power of Nature in all aspects of how we live with our environment. From soil health, biodiversity and quality of the food we buy, the Knepp project shows a possible way forwards to ensure our long term health and point to a sustainable way of living with the land.
Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful, hope-filled project and a wonderful book. Towards the end she writes of her wish for white cranes to be nesting there, this year the first wild white crane chicks were hatched on the Knepp estate; the first in Britain for over 400 years.

I recently heard of a similar project planned not far away from me. Really exciting to see what comes of it.
Beth Bonini
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I can already say, with absolutely no hesitation, that this will be one of my books of the year. There is no book I’ve learned more from, or been more enthralled by reading. I say this as someone who has only a mild-to-middling interest in nature/environment/ecology issues, at least in terms of prior knowledge and depth of scientific understanding. Isabella Tree is a great storyteller who manages to convert quite a lot of technical information into a plot - a drama, even - which any reasonably i ...more
Sarah Patton
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Probably the best book I have read this year. I have been to Knepp on several occasions and spoken with both Isabella and Charlie and their passion for rewilding is amazing. They are also genuinely nice people.
This book really opened my eyes even more and I learned many things despite being an ecologist and life long conservationist. The chapter on soil and worms is especially thought provoking.
This is a MUST read!
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was given this book, which I would never have considered buying, as a Father's Day gift. I am so grateful!
I know nothing about farming and next to nothing about conservation, but I was fascinated by this story of a family that turned their 3,500 acres of unprofitable intensive farmland, owned by ancestors for centuries, into a 'wilderness'. The book recounts the battles against local opposition to 'destruction' of the estate's perceived attractiveness, against blinkered bureaucracy and even ag
Sophy H
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: outdoor-nature
This is a fantastic book detailing what happens when we let Nature back in and let her take her rightful place on vast acres of land that have been raped on an industrial scale for decades.

The vast lands of the family estate are given over to native seeds, wildflowers, natural processes, grazing wild animals and the re-wilding of the earth. Intervention is kept to a minimum and species start to flourish like never before, with plentiful habitats and safe spaces to breed.

Of course the obligator
Dec 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Forced from intensive farming, Isabella Tree and her husband give their 3,500 acres at Knepp Estate back to nature. Easier said than done when even our conception of nature leans to order. Giving weeds free rein and letting ancient trees topple and rot in place. Introducing native fauna like Tamworth pigs to root in the dirt, Exmoor ponies, fallow deer and long horn cattle to graze in the fields and resisting the urge to supplementary feed them, even if it means some will succumb to harsh winter ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Wilding is the story of Knepp – an English estate that Isabelle Tree together with her husband transformed from intensive agriculture into as close to wilderness as they could. The book follows the process of introducing new species and shares the results of the project, giving backround information about different species, agricultural systems and environmental issues. It’s coherent and comprehensive but problematic as well.⁣

First of all, I really wish Tree had not included the part about food
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We bought this book at the end of our honeymoon visit to Knepp. I feel it's right to preface this by saying that I loved Knepp, and I'm already mentally planning my return visit. Nature is truly all around, even in the 'glamping' area of the site. Just a few footsteps away from the 'yoga garden', the air smelled as sweet as the very floral honey that is sold in the farm shop. We didn't see any of the large mammals, unfortunately, but we saw plenty of smaller insects, birds and the hint of a stoa ...more
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Not just my book of the year but I think the most enlightening book I have *ever* read in my, ahem, almost 50 years on earth. Reading how letting nature take its course and can heal the earth so rapidly, as well as allow wildlife we thought would soon be gone forever to absolutely thrive has been a real eye opener - I'm a farmers son and our family thinks we know a lot about nature, how it works and what we as humans need to do to help it. We know NOTHING! This book and the 20 years the Knepp es ...more
Judith Wolf
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most inspiring books I have read in a long time

This book opened my eyes about conservation. The Knepp rewilding project had roasted messages about human preconceptions and letting nature take its own course. The book is well-researched and beautifully written, I recommend it to all those concerned about the degradation of our natural environment.
Jan 26, 2020 rated it liked it
This book tells people who own 3500 acres of land and don’t need to earn a living how to make a difference to the planet
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think this book has changed my life. I have had my understanding of nature completely upended, and have a new and deeper appreciation for letting plants and animals manage themselves, and the landscape. The stories we have been telling ourselves about European conquest over vast, dark, closed-canopy forest erases not only indigenous land management, but animal transformation of the landscape. We did not create the panoply of ecosystems in the world, though we are destroying them: heavy grazers ...more
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoughtful and passionate account of the 'Wilding' of the Knepp estate in Sussex. When Isabella Tree and her husband realised that their intensive farming of their estate was no longer sustainable, they managed to gain approval and support for allowing the land to go back to nature, adding certain species of animals which could roam freely, and gradually began to see the return of a whole range of insects, birds, and small mammals which had been absent for many years.

This was a very interestin
Jill Bowman
May 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fascinating book! I was barely into the book before my husband (also reading a book) asked me to please stop interrupting him by reading him passages out of Wilding. I spent a lot of time googling pictures and birdsong, looking on google maps at places I’d never heard of; Ive ordered 2 new books and followed 2 new IG pages. In short - I’ve learned a lot from a very interesting and well written book. If I were an English voter I’d definitely be on their side!!
I hope I get to visit some
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree is the story of the Knepp experiment of returning a 3,500-acre Sussex farm back to nature.

The estate, inherited by Tree’s husband, Charlie Burrell, had been in his family for centuries. The land was intensively farmed until doing so no longer became economically viable. That is when Isabella and Charlie decided to adopt a non-interventionist policy to the land and allow nature to take its course. Much to their amazement, nature reb
April Cote
I was excited about the topic, and was it was fascinating when she talked about the trees, plants and animals that were taking over the land. The one thing I didn't know was how little the land in Britain is wild. It has lost almost all of its native wildlife, most of its forests and big animals. They are one of the few countries in the world who have no large predators to speak of. The sprawling hills and pastures we are so used to seeing is pictures, and looks beautiful, is actually not natura ...more
Wilding is a story about Knepp, a historic estate in Sussex, Britain, that was being farmed conventionally until the year 2000, when Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell decided to return their estate to nature. This book is a fascinating look at this process, which involved them taking a step back from what they believed should happen in nature, to just let nature do it's thing.

This book focuses on lots of different challenges are lessons they came across in the past 20 years and talks about to
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be a refreshment to my soul. To experience the process of the wilding of Knepp through Isabella’s storytelling was a pleasure and a privilege. I was surprised and thrilled by the changes to the land right along with her. The story is so very uplifting because it chronicles the ability of the land to heal itself, as it was created to, and the impact that has on so many species of plants and animals. (I have a newfound respect for earthworms)
Humans have both knowingly and unkn
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Wilding - OneKind Book Club 1 3 Apr 08, 2021 03:08AM  
More than a dodo ...: Rewilding farmland 1 3 Mar 19, 2020 03:49PM  
The Book Vipers: Group Non-Fiction Read Q3 2019 - Wilding 9 27 Sep 08, 2019 05:54AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Rebirding: Rewilding Britain and its Birds
  • Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea and Human Life
  • The Garden Jungle: or Gardening to Save the Planet
  • Bringing Back the Beaver: The Story of One Man's Quest to Rewild Britain's Waterways
  • Rewild Yourself: 23 Spellbinding Ways To Make Nature More Visible
  • Back to Nature: How to love life - and save it
  • English Pastoral: An Inheritance
  • Wildwood: A Journey through Trees
  • Our Place: Can We Save Britain’s Wildlife Before It Is Too Late?
  • Diary of a Young Naturalist
  • Who Owns England?
  • Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field
  • The Living Mountain
  • The Salt Path
  • Rewilding: The Radical New Science of Ecological Recovery
  • The Wood: The Life & Times of Cockshutt Wood
  • Losing Eden: Why Our Minds Need the Wild
  • A Buzz in the Meadow: The Natural History of a French Farm
See similar books…

News & Interviews

Juneteenth, observed on June 19th each year, is an American holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Galveston,...
39 likes · 5 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“children who spent time in green spaces between the ages of seven and twelve tend to think of nature as magical. As adults they are the people most likely to be indignant about lack of nature protection, while those who have had no such experience tend to regard nature as hostile or irrelevant and are indifferent to its loss. By expurgating nature from children's lives we are depriving the environment of its champions for the future.” 7 likes
“We forget, in a world completely transformed by man, that what we’re looking at is not necessarily the environment wildlife prefer, but the depleted remnant that wildlife is having to cope with: what it has is not necessarily what it wants.” 4 likes
More quotes…