Wilding by Isabella Tree: The Movie - A Review and Cinema Trip

Yesterday evening we had a Meadowmania outing to Bristol’s Watershed cinema to see the newly released documentary about the rewilding project at Knepp estate.

Isabella Tree’s bestselling book Wilding, published in 2019, tells the story of the pioneering rewilding project at Knepp, home to Isabella and her husband Sir Charles Burrell. By introducing free-roaming, grazing animals to their over-farmed, non-profitable land - to imitate wild species of ponies, cattle and boar - they initiated the creation of new habitats for wildlife and witnessed the return of thousands of species to their five-and-a-half square miles of West Sussex countryside. Their remarkable story has now been released as an inspirational film, charting and celebrating nature’s ability to regenerate.

How the landscape at the Knepp estate has changed under rewilding.

Most fascinating is the links and connections binding the life on the estate and the way this connectedness maintains the health and natural balance of the land. Even on a wider scale, interconnectedness is evident. By 2009, eight years into their rewilding journey, deep thickets of metre-high creeping thistle had covered huge areas of the estate posing a serious threat to their funding. While deliberating over how to deal with this invasion, nature sent a solution… the painted lady butterfly… over 11 million of them! This species of butterfly migrates from North Africa every year, but in 2009 they arrived in the UK in bumper numbers. Thousands descended on Knepp to feed on a variety of flowers and to lay their eggs on the creeping thistles whose leaves would be food for the caterpillars. By autumn, after the caterpillars had eaten, pupated and left, the creeping thistles were left in shreds and, by the following year, had disappeared.

We saw purple emperor butterflies, turtle doves, beavers and storks, as well as countless species of wildflowers and an industrious jay finding just the right spot to bury an acorn and thus planting the next generation of oak trees on the estate.

We were inspired and delighted. Tears were shed!

We love the book - and the movie - so much, we're now stocking Wilding in the book section of our website.

We hugely recommend Isabella Tree's book: it's a truly compelling story with a timely message of hope.


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