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Cambridge University Science Magazine

It can often feel like problems such as habitat loss and the subsequent extinctions of animals are constrained to more tropical environments. Whether it be the deforestation of the Amazon or oil-palm plantations encroaching on the rainforests of Borneo, you would be forgiven for thinking that these are distant problems that do not affect us here in good ol’ Great Britain. But our fair isles have also seen a considerable degree of ecological change, leading to numerous extinctions of our own.

The concept of rewilding, reintroducing extinct species that were once present in an area, is a novel and promising method to combat these extinctions. Wilding by Isabella Tree is an in-depth look at the rewilding experiments carried out at the Knepp Estate in West Sussex. Once an arable and dairy farm, lack of profitability led Isabella Tree and her husband, Charlie Burrell, to search for an alternative purpose for the acres of land at their disposal. What followed was an incredible rejuvenation of a British ecosystem. Once starved of biodiversity, Knepp Estate is now one of the few places in the UK that has recorded an increase in the population of endangered turtle doves and has witnessed the recovery of several species of butterfly thought to be extirpated from the area. With a fine eye for ecological detail, Tree’s story is a fantastic testament to the resilience of the natural world and a rallying cry for the protection of Britain’s incredible native wildlife.

Alexandra Howard