New film based on OM Isabella Tree's book, Wilding, has hit cinemas

New film based on OM Isabella Tree's book, Wilding, has hit cinemas

Isabella Tree's acclaimed book ‘Wilding’ about the rewilding project on her and her husband's estate in West Sussex hit the big screens on 14 June.  

Isabella Tree is an award-winning writer and conservationist who lives with her husband, Charlie Burrell, in the middle of a pioneering rewilding project in West Sussex. She is author of six non-fiction books, including the 2018 Richard Jefferies Society Literature Award-winning book Wilding: the return of nature to a British farm that was voted in the top ten science books for 2018 by The Smithsonian and made into a documentary film in 2024. 

Her subsequent The Book of Wilding - a practical guide to rewilding big and small, (Bloomsbury, 2023), co-authored with Charlie, has been described as ‘a handbook of hope’ and ‘a manual that builds hope for a better, wilder world’. 

Her latest book is a children’s version of Wilding, illustrated by Angela Harding and published by PanMacmillan. She is currently writing The Return of the White Stork about their reintroduction of white storks to Britain after an absence of more than 600 years. 

Based on Isabella Tree’s best-selling book, Wilding, this film tells the inspiring story of a young couple who bet on nature to save their failing, four-hundred-year-old estate. Defying entrenched traditions, they decide to let nature take its course. By tearing down fences and reintroducing a diverse mix of tame and wild animals, they embark on a bold rewilding experiment. This grand initiative has since become one of the most significant rewilding projects in Europe. 

“Charlie and I inherited the Knepp estate from his grandparents in the 1980s. And it was 3500 acres of intensive arable and dairy. Knepp was already a failing farm, business-wise, it wasn't profitable. But Charlie thought he could make it work. So for 17 years, he tried to farm it. But after 17 years, in about 1999, he realised that we were one and a half million pounds in debt, and it was just not viable. So we looked at how we could use the estate radically differently, working with the land rather than pushing against it.” - Isabella. 

Isabella also shared how rewilding can instil a deeper respect for nature: “What rewilding is teaching us is a deeper respect for nature and ecosystems and how a holistic view of nature can't just survive in tiny little silos in nature reserves that are isolated. That is doomed to fail, as we've seen over the last century. We have to think in terms of landscape scale ecosystems and living rivers. Our rivers are still continuing to decline in quality year by year. Thirty years ago or so, when we joined Europe, we were considered the dirty man of Europe, and we're even dirtier now. There's that sense of not understanding nature itself, while at the same time thinking that we do, and thinking that we're animal lovers and we're benign stewards of the land. It's also the pushback from farming, and that mindset that we have to continue using pesticides, and plough and pollute our rivers with slurry and run-off. And we don't have to do it that way. But that tide is also beginning to turn in terms of regenerative agriculture and farmers, some of them at least, who aren't under the sway of the agro-chemical companies. The big farming and big food and farming industry are beginning to understand that there is a much more sustainable way of producing much healthier food by not ploughing and by not using chemicals, which actually works with nature. There's a big learning curve, but it is beginning to happen. 

The film was released in cinemas in the UK and Ireland on 14 June. 

Photo Credit: MetFilm Distribution and Anthony Cullen

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