“I recommend anyone prone to despair to read Wilding – for Isabella Tree’s apparently quixotic tale of Exmoor ponies, longhorn cattle, red deer and Tamworth pigs roaming free on an aristocratic estate is a hugely important addition to the literature of what can be done to restore soil and soul. The book describes an attempt to renew the ecosystem, after decades of intensive agriculture of some 1,400 hectares owned by Tree’s husband Charlie Burrell at Knepp in West Sussex. The project, which began in 2001, is perhaps unique in England, and the results have been spectacular. Tree is a trenchant critic of the intensive agriculture that has led to soil degradation and erosion. She questions the goal-driven frameworks of much conservation work: when there is no preferred end state, formerly rare and even vanished species tend suddenly to reappear. And she battles heroically against the English addiction to tidiness. For a nation obsessed with orderliness and boundaries, land that is endlessly morphing, on its way to being something else, can be discomforting. She also makes the case that it is possible to feed 10 billion humans on this planet while also leaving more space for the wild.” – Caspar Henderson