Chaucer’s Books invites community members to meet author Isabella Tree as she shares readings from her new book Wilding — Returning Nature to our Farm, 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 3321 State St., Santa Barbara.
For years, Tree and her husband Charlie farmed Knepp Castle Estate and struggled to turn a profit. By 2000, with the farm facing bankruptcy, they decided to try something radical. They would restore Knepp’s 3,500 acres to the wild.
Using herds of free-roaming animals to mimic the actions of the megafauna of the past, they hoped to bring nature back to their depleted land. But what would the neighbors say, in the manicured countryside of modern England where a blade of grass out of place is considered an affront?
In the face of considerable opposition, the couple persisted with their experiment and soon witnessed an extraordinary change. New life flooded into Knepp, now a breeding hotspot for rare and threatened species like turtle doves, peregrine falcons, and purple emperor butterflies.
The Knepp project has become a leading light for conservation in the United Kingdom, demonstrating how letting nature take its course can revive both the land and wildlife, reversing the cataclysmic declines in biodiversity that challenge Britain and the world.
The story of rewilding Knepp points the way to a richer future — a countryside that benefits farming, nature, and people. Wilding is an inspiring story of hope.
At a time of looming environmental disaster, Wilding is an inspiring story of a farm, a couple, and a community transformed. Tree’s book brings together science, natural history, a fair bit of drama, and — ultimately — hope.
Tree writes for such publications as National Geographic, Granta, The Sunday Times, and The Observer. Her articles have been selected for The Best American Travel Writing and Reader’s Digest Today’s Best Non-Fiction. She was Overall Winner of the Travelex Travel Writer Awards.
She published her first book The Bird Man — a Biography of John Gould when she was 25.
— Mary Hershey for Chaucer’s Books.