Another NetGalley win, a book by an academic and a practitioner respectively in conservation and ecology, and part of the “Hot Science” series which looks at exciting new topics in the scientific world.

Paul Jepson & Cain Blyth – “Rewilding: The Radical New Science of Ecological Recovery”

(19 May 2020)

A fascinating book that explores the science and research that underpins the theories and practicalities of rewilding, understood in various ways but basically the practice of returning landscapes to a previous, more diverse and “natural” iteration – although what that iteration should be is a matter of discussion and controversy, much like rewilding itself can be.

The book concentrates on the idea of reintroducing megafauna (animals over 40kg such as wild cattle and horses up to rhinos and at its most extreme, re-created mammoths etc) to landscapes, which produce not the tree covered land we might think of as natural but more of a patchwork of grasslands and scrublands. This also includes the controversial idea of introducing non-native but similar species to replace extinct ones (this has already been done with giant tortoises but requires very careful consideration).

Some big schemes that are already going on are explained in detail, so we can see how the theory can be applied, and what changes can be made, the political issues that arise and what possible mitigations can be introduced. “Protect the best, rewild the rest” is a central theme, with charismatic predators and more prosaic beavers and wild cattle being reintroduced, and those herbivorous megafauna, allowing habitats to adjust and smaller populations to burgeon.

The use of very new technology, for example very small trackers and zones used to follow bison movements, is described in fascinating detail. It’s not at all dry theory but illustrations of very interesting practical measures that are going on now. The final chapter ends with predictions for the next decade, when questions will be answered and rewilding will become more mainstream, in the authors’ eyes.

Thank you to Icon Books for making this book available to me via NetGalley in return for an honest review.