Rewilding Britain and its Birds
- Detailed overview of bird declines over centuries and the factors leading to them.
- A plan to rewild our countryside at a large-scale.
- An economic solution to rewilding our landscapes, creating a future where large, wild areas maintain wildlife.
- This is a wonderful book, visionary, illuminating and fascinating. It will help accelerate the rewilding revolution now beginning in Britain. —George Monbiot
Did you know that 94% of Britain isn’t built upon? That Snowdonia is larger and emptier than the Maasai Mara National Reserve? That Scotland’s deer estates, or the UK’s burned heather lands farmed for grouse, both cover areas twice the size of Yellowstone National Park? That livestock farms occupy 88% of Wales but contribute 0.7% to its economy - and provide jobs for less than 2% of its people?
Britain is blessed with space. Huge areas of this space produce little in the way of viable food supplies. They sustain few livelihoods, and no young people’s futures. We waste space in a way no other nation would allow. The solution is simple: the restoration of our native landscapes, our wildlife - and most of all, our rural jobs. Nature makes money, creates genuine local income, and affords the prospect of a life without subsidy for our dying rural communities.
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.
It looks at key reasons why species are vanishing, as our landscapes become ever more tamed and less diverse, with wildlife trapped in tiny pockets of habitat. It explores how Britain has, uniquely, relied on modifying farmland, rather than restoring ecosystems, in a failing attempt to halt wildlife decline. With more nature-loving voices than any European country, we should in fact have the best, not the most impoverished, wildlife on our continent. Especially when the rural economics of our game estates, and upland farms, are among the worst in Europe.
Rebirding was written as the first book with actual solutions for how beautiful and profitable the UK’s countryside could one day look - as well as why the impending extinction of our cuckoos, turtle doves and honey-bees is entirely avoidable. Britain has all the space it needs for an epic wildlife recovery. So what’s stopping it from happening in our country – and how can we turn things around?
This book is for anyone who cares about Britain’s vanishing wildlife and birds, and is interested in ambitious, but achievable, solutions to wildlife decline.
Table of Contents
1 - Taming Britain
2 - The Anthropocene
3 - The First Imperative
4 - The Lost Stewards
5 - A Question of Scale
6 - Memory
7 - A Wild Economy
8 - The Wild Highlands
9 - New Forests
10 - The Golden Hills of Wales
11 - A Grouse Moor Wild
12 - Pelican Possibility
13 - Our Birds
14 - Conservation Begins
- [A] splendid new book... all rational argument seems to be on his side
—Tim Flannery, The Guardian
- A visionary yet practical book
—John Burnside, New Statesman
- An exposé, a plea, and a vision of a better future.
—Simon Reeve, BBC Presenter
- A wonderfully imaginative book which shows how things could be with our rapidly declining areas of countryside, instead of how - despairingly - they are now.
—Rod Liddle, Associate Editor of The Spectator
- This is a welcome addition to the growing corpus of literature on a very topical and vital issue. As the catchy title suggests, there is plenty here for those, like me, whose primary passion is for birds, but there is also a wealth of information on rewilding in general, with reference to further reading. The book’s primary geographic focus is on Britain, but its well-travelled author draws on experience further afield, too. Ben Macdonald has an impressive track record as a field naturalist, wildlife film-maker and writer, and this passionate, authoritative, up-to-date and, ultimately, optimistic book is a worthy companion to such seminal works as George Monbiot’s Feral and Mark Cocker’s Our Place.
—Jonathan Elphick, BBC Wildlife Magazine
- Rebirding is beautifully written, based on deep, personal experience and a genuine love of the subject. It also benefits from the heady enthusiasm of youth. You may not have come across Ben Macdonald before now; but believe me, you will hear a lot more from him in the future.
- Having read a number of the recent books about rewilding, I was tempted to think 'Oh blimey, not another one!'. I am now tempted to say 'they left the best till last…' Ben covers history, science, traditions, conservation and reintroduction, all with those most vital elements - knowledge and enthusiasm.
- A book about a key subject at a key time, passionate and deeply thought-through. Anyone concerned with the future of the natural world in Britain will want to read it.
—Mike McCarthy, author of The Moth Snowstorm
- With George Monbiot’s Feral and Isabella Tree’s Wilding providing a look at rewilding from different standpoints... Rebirding sits separate from both and in fact is an essential third book to read if you’ve enjoyed the others. In short, it’s a captivating, fascinating and inspiring read.
—Ed Stubbs, BirdGuides / Birdwatching Magazine
- 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.
—Mark Avery, www.markavery.info
- It is a beautifully written, thoughtful and, yes, provocative book.
—Martin Harper, Conservation Director, RSPB
- This is a stimulating and important book, beautifully written and well researched… It provides a compelling vision for the future.
—Carl Jones, Chief Scientist, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
- Reading this book as both a rewilder and a birder, I expected that an author with a media background would hardly do a good job of rewilding, let alone cover the science of Britain’s historic and prehistoric wildlife. But Macdonald’s book has really surprised me. I have learned much I did not know about Britain’s early bird faunas, and even the history of its mammals. The level of treatment and scholarly references is on a par with conservation science books.
.... I thoroughly recommend the book and applaud its breadth and detail. Any birder will gain a good grasp of the rewilding agenda, and any rewilder will find much to learn about birds and their place in wilding schemes.
—Peter Taylor, ECOS
- This book reads nicely and the subject is topical. It presents a good mix of interesting facts and well-explained points of view.
—Walter Belis, Alauda
- This is the best book on nature, conservation and rewilding I read in 2019 – perhaps one of the best I’ve ever read. I finished reading it with a real sense of hope for the future. It presents the best argument yet for rewilding before it’s too late, and shows us exactly how to do it.
About the Author
Benedict Macdonald is a conservation writer, field director in wildlife television, and a keen naturalist; passionate about restoring Britain's wildlife, pelicans included, in his lifetime.
During his extensive global travel experience, Benedict has found inspiring examples of why desecrating our country’s ecosystems is both entirely avoidable and against the national interest. This book is his attempt to ensure that this generation, for the first time in thousands of years, leaves Britain’s wildlife better off, not worse, than the generation before – for wildlife and people alike.
Benedict is a long-time writer for Birdwatching magazine, as well as a contributor to the RSPB Nature’s Home and BBC Wildlife. He has been fortunate to work on TV series for the BBC and Netflix - most notably the grasslands and jungles programmes of Sir David Attenborough’s conservation series Our Planet: broadcast worldwide on Netflix in April 2019.
- 288 pages
- 16 colour plates
- BISAC SCI070040, NAT043000, NAT010000, NAT011000, SCI088000, TEC003040
- BIC PSVW6, WNCB, RNKH, PSVS, RPG, TV, KNAL, WSXH