Here are my comments for the sustainable book club – meeting today – details here. Once again I am unable to access the internet so I will have to do this via WordPress and hope it gets picked up via social media….

This piece is not as detailed as I would like and will have  no quotes as I had my Kindle stolen in Ulan Batur. Just one more thing I have against Mongolia…. the list is getting longer!

Sorry but here goes…..

“Feral…. Searching for enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding

The suburbs dream of violence. Asleep in their drowsy villas, sheltered by benevolent shopping malls, they wait patiently for the nightmares that will wake them into a more passionate world’ J. G. BALLADFeral

Feral is the lyrical and gripping story of George Monbiot’s efforts to re-engage with nature and discover a new way of living. He shows how, by restoring and rewilding our damaged ecosystems on land and at sea, we can bring wonder back into our lives.

Making use of some remarkable scientific discoveries, Feral lays out a new, positive environmentalism, in which nature is allowed to find its own way”

George Monbiot? I had kind of heard of him before but didn’t really know anything about him. Due to lack of internet connection I still don’t but judging by his book he is a kind Eco Ernest Hemingway. Or maybe more of a Jack London? What ever – his is manly love of nature, a wrestling with elks kind of relationship. He would like to see the arid and financially dysfunctional barren grasslands of Britains sheep farms planted up as native woodland. And these forests then repopulated with native fauna. A process called rewidling. Also wants unsustainable fishing to be sorted. Damn right!

Interestingly his definition of native stretches back to the days when mammoths roamed Monmouth and Auriochs ruled Aberystwyth. At the very least he wants to reintroduce wolves and bears. With proper consultation and public approval of course. And while that is being assessed maybe we can stretch to some eagles and a few basking sharks.

And though we are talking native fauna (and yes his definition of native is indeed broad), he does not want to maintain an environment in stasis. Rather he would let nature develop as it will. Naturally so to speak. It is nice to hear some one promoting the processes of plant colonisation which really are rather magical.

There are some lovely descriptions of the environment (and mans place in it). But for those of you less poetical, the practical ideas put forward are good, well researched and inspiring. The science seems solid and the theories refreshing. I like it a lot. Love the idea that elephants could be introduced the Midlands. But back to the wolves; there are strong arguments that an ecosystem can only function properly when controlled and managed by natural predators.  Remove these and the knock on effects are dire. He talks well of trophic cascades and other such things.

For rewilding to work here needs to be more involvement in who owns the land in Britain, how it is managed, rights to roam and farming subsidies. Most people don’t really know or care about these matters. I like that this book raises these issues.Really, you have to read it.

On a personal note when I was studying landscape architecture the move was towards planting native species. The aim to create a network of wild life corridors. These bands of hedgerow and woodland would from a web across England allowing animals to move freely rather than getting trapped in little islands of woodland. One reason was to maintain a healthy gene pool.

Back then Chris Baines was our god or Green Man rather. He pioneered a great and extremely cheap technique for creating native hedgerows. Clear a strip of land of grass, fence it and leave it for species to colonize. Much the same principals are being promoted in this book. Well I can tell you from personal experience they work and work well. I am proud to say that I have planted up several woodlands and hedgerows. Though I am more J.R. Hartley then Hemmingway. I was happy with an increase in hedgehogs and frogs.

But this is something we can all do. If mammoths seem to be rather a large undertaking, pollinators, bees and butterflies, are in desperate need of help. You could start rewilding a corner of your garden – theres lots of help here 

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