Recently I compared a somewhat discursive and repetitious production by E. Wilson to brilliant tooth-pickings of a great mind; in contrast, FERAL is sensationalized tooth-pickings of egocentris This is the most disappointing book I have read in the last few years. Wilson to brilliant tooth-pickings of a great mind; in contrast, FERAL is sensationalized tooth-pickings of egocentrism.
The preface, with its in-page reference lists, is the most satisfying and informative part of the book.
Lecture and debate George Monbiot. Feral: Rewilding the land, sea and human life
In a world where survival is the very issue at risk -- grave risk, to put it mildly -- for both the human species and numerous others, GEORGE's central concern is what he self-identifies as 'Ecological Boredom': in the suburban security he finds himself, his justly manly longings for Adventure!
Given where we are today already, I say keep this GEORGE out of the jungle, out of any civilization if possible, and safely in his dangerous and exciting caveman dreams. View all 12 comments.
The landscape of the UK has been tamed by man and domestic animal for millennia, so much so that vast parts of it are almost monocultures now. This legacy is one of the human desire to control and dominate their environment, and biodiversity has suffered as a result. In this book Monbiot is advocating us to re-engage with nature and considers bold and daring options to re-wild the countryside. Possibly the bravest of his suggestions is to reintroduce wolves. First hearing this, most people will The landscape of the UK has been tamed by man and domestic animal for millennia, so much so that vast parts of it are almost monocultures now.
First hearing this, most people will raise their hands in horror because of the danger, but as has been proven in America, and other parts of Europe, the reintroduction of a top level predator can shake the natural environment completely. For example, having wolves back in Scotland will mean that the deer population can be controlled naturally, less deer will mean that the vegetation can grow and recover, and all these have a massive effect on the animals and plants up and down the food chain.
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The planned and accidental introduction of beavers seems to have worked, with the changes that they make to the river systems hopefully will have a knock on effect by reducing flooding. These simple, harmless animals cause massive devastation to the landscape, almost to the point where there is more life in a desert that on the Welsh uplands. Areas that have had sheep excluded, within a handful of years will have a rich variety of flora and fauna.
The same principle applies to oceans; the modern way of trawling with dragnets wreaks utter devastation to the ocean floor. Simply banning that type of fishing in certain areas, and limiting activity in the margin of the zone will have a similar effect fairly soon too. But as ever change is never straightforward. He considers the effects that the common agricultural policy has on our landscape, in particular that very little land can be left to go wild and must always be managed to be able to claim subsidies.
There is a part on the failed re-wilding undertaken by the Germans, and also the evidence that our present native trees had evolved to cope with the mega fauna such as elephants and rhino that used to live here. There is at the moment precious political will to change things, coupled with powerful and frequently absent landowners with little desire for change, things are not going to happen soon.
For change as bold as this there needs to be full commitment from all stakeholders and parties involved, and I for one would like to see the reintroduction of the top level predators and the return of proper wilderness to parts of Britain. It is a well written and passionate plea for the necessary revolution that is needed in our natural world.
Well worth reading.
George Monbiot, Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea and Human Life | Peace News
I found this book wholly delightful. It contains a mixture of adventures Monbiot has had in the wilder parts of the world and well-reasoned arguments for allowing more of the world to be wild. This is a useful reminder that notions of wilderness are culturally and socially mediated. I wonder if this attachment to a specific vision of the past and general fear of visual change links also to the bizarrely fervent resistance to wind turbines? The incredible, near-feudal concentration of land ownership in the UK clearly also has a major impact here, as Monbiot notes.
I grew up in rural East Anglia, in a landscape wholly dominated by monocultures of oilseed rape. Here and there pockets of habitat survived, in churchyards, around rivers, in hedgerows, and the odd meadow. Woods, however, were basically non existent. Given the sheer scale of human destruction chronicled in the book, it is impressive how positive the overall message is. I suppose the massive amount of energy and effort expended to alter and degrade ecosystems implies a certain symmetry; stop expending that energy and ecosystems will quite quickly reconfigure themselves.
Restricting climate change to asides also adds to this cheerful message. Rewilding is more closely linked to climate change adaptation than mitigation, as more diverse habitats tend to be more resilient. Regarding mitigation, it can only be hoped that greater personal identification with the wild environment would change social priorities away from overconsumption. Rewilding is, after all, subversive. Although its economic side benefits are discussed, ultimately it involves prioritising economic inactivity over profit-seeking use of land.
Indeed, I doubt that the discipline of mainstream economics would ever comprehend rewilding. Monbiot himself stresses that the main benefit is the sheer wonder and enjoyment of wild places. Current social mores value what can be priced over such intangible concepts, so it is refreshing to find this challenged.
Perhaps my favourite element of the book, though, was the excited descriptions of extinct megafauna.
I am deducting one star as the book could have a clearer structure. Nonetheless, reading this book made me happier and enthusiastic about the prospects of rewilding. Jan 04, Chris rated it liked it Shelves: animals , real-world. I heard the author on NPR so I had to read the book.
The book is somewhat disjointed. It's got passion but too much info. But still read it. It's very informative. You learn about trophic cascades and shifting balance syndrome among other things. Monbiot is a revolutionary, an iconoclast, a pragmatist, and someone who should be in charge of making things happen. If you think the US is messed up in terms of its conservation you should look at the UK which Monbiot mercilessly grills over its inane I heard the author on NPR so I had to read the book.
If you think the US is messed up in terms of its conservation you should look at the UK which Monbiot mercilessly grills over its inane policies which do everything to achieve the reverse of what's needed. Although this book is pretty UK centric it's discouraging to see what constitutes management and conservation policy.
Monbiot points out that much of what we call the natural world is not so but a manmade construct that's relative to our point of view or time. The landed gentry work against the land with their focus on hunting. The farmer's lobby with the focus on neatness and removing woods, marshes as well as the pre-eminence of sheep which destroy the land- does nothing but make the land worse for wear. Monbiot likens some areas of Wales to a desert: no trees and the omnipresent sheep eating everything so there's no roots or grass.
And they wonder why there are so many floods in the UK now according to Monbiot. Just a very interesting rant on the arrogance of man and how even his best attempt at management screws everything up. Leave Mother Nature alone and let her be and we'll all be better off is Monbiot's message. View 2 comments. Apr 17, Ariel Gordon rated it liked it. In his eighth book, Feral, he minces no words about the effect the ruminants have on the British landscape: "Sheep farming in this country is a slow-burning ecological disaster, which has done more damage to the living systems of this country than either climate change or industrial pollution.
He's been a columnist for The Guardian for nearly two decades, writing on multinational corporations 's The Captive State , democratic reform 's The Age of Consent and climate change 's Heat.
But it was a move to the Welsh countryside with his young family in that forced Monbiot to focus on his immediate surroundings: the heaths and moors of the Cambrian Mountains. Even though his Guardian column demanded that he range across disciplines - from science to economics to politics - Monbiot realized he felt disengaged from his body and his environment. He was, as he called it, "ecologically bored. As little as 1, years ago, according to the fossil record, most of the U. Man cut down the trees and then filled the empty spaces with sheep, who browse anything green down to the ground.
Rewilding, according to Monbiot, "involves reintroducing absent plants and animals and in a few cases culling exotic species which cannot be contained by native wildlife , pulling down the fences, blocking the drainage ditches, but otherwise stepping back. While we don't have sheep, we do have cattle ranches and a high density of deer in both rural and urban areas.
And scientists and conservation officers across the country are currently asking some of the same questions Monbiot does on the value of maintaining and in some cases reintroducing keystone species such as beavers and wolves. Unfortunately, Monbiot sandwiches his largely compelling arguments between chapters that detail his goal to live a life "richer in adventure and surprise. In addition, while Monbiot was likely motivated by beginning a family to write Feral, there is no denying that the risk-taking he describes is gendered.
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