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Rebirding: Winner of the Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation: Restoring Britain's Wildlife

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Silent Spring is as relevant today as it was when American environmentalist Rachel Carson first published her seminal work 60 years ago. Every chapter is a reminder that we aren’t above nature, or able to control it. When we harm biodiversity, we ultimately harm ourselves. As Carson wrote, “in nature nothing exists alone”. Benedict Macdonald is anaturalist, wildlife documentary filmmaker and the author of the newly published book Rebirding: Rewilding Britain and its Birds. Rebirding describes how many of our familiar birds evolved to thrive here in wilder landscapes, and highlights the potential for abundance to return, if we have the vision and thewill.

Not long ago, rewilding in the UK was a fringe idea. That is no longer the case. The conversation has moved onto how to make it happen – and that discussion has inevitably spanned money, ecology, culture and politics.

Travelling abroad — especially to national parks in eastern Europe — makes you realise quite how robbed and silent our own country is. It makes you angry that we settle for so little.

This book is a ‘Must read’ and a ‘Good read’ but not necessarily a ‘Must agree with’ type of book. By which I mean that it is well written and has the right mixture of interesting facts and well-explained views mixed in with a few areas where I thought (you might not) ‘Hang on, I don’t agree with that’. And that’s the type of book that grabs and keeps my attention. I recommend it highly – you should read it and I think you may well enjoy it a lot. He talks about game farms and hunting being a sustainable way to lower meat producing co2 emissions, and the damage to the countryside that cattle and sheep farming has. Consuming Venison rather than Beef. I understand the logic of the argument- deer wild feed whilst cattle have feed that is grown in South America shipped to the UK. Deer are gentle nature lovers, cattle trample everything in sight. Deer live a wonderfully wild life until they are shot in the head; cattle get milked, prodded, live in cramped sheds, get pumped full of meds that pass through manure that end up in the soil and waterways. I'd argue a better way of lowering meat consumption would be to stop eating meat.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.

While I have to admit to occasionally skim-reading some nature books as they can turn into endless lists of unconnected stories, Ben has a structure that works, that builds an argument, that takes you from imagining the past to imagining our future. A lot of this comes down to the human conservation ego. Take on areserve, carefully segregate its habitats and ​ ‘manage’ it, and you prove you are doing something and justifying your salary and grants. In Dumfries and Galloway, a group of friends are attempting to recreate the ancient Scottish wildwood across 1,600 acres. In Norfolk, the Ken Hill Estate is turning a thousand acres of the lowlands over to nature. A mathematician, an internet entrepreneur and an environmental campaigner have all recently snapped up small parcels of land with the intention of restoring some vestige of wildness to the English landscape.The choice, after all, is ours to make,” she writes. Silent Spring sparked the dawn of a new environmental movement, the banning of DDT and the establishment of the US Environmental Protection Agency. Yet production of hazardous chemicals continues to rise exponentially. Banned pesticides linger. Decades on, I have traces of DDT in my own blood. This alarm bell still rings loud. We must listen to it. The Value of a Whale by Adrienne Buller Rebirthing sessions can take several forms, depending on your age and your treatment goals. Sessions are usually led by trained instructors. They work with you one-on-one or two-on-one, coaching your breathwork and leading you through the technique. This means that his vision, while sometimes controversial, is also fresh. And it has been a phenomenal success. The book was recently awarded the prestigious Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation.

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