Read our Q&A with Benedict Macdonald
Did you know that 94% of Britain isn't built upon? That Snowdonia is larger and emptier than the Maasai Mara National Reserve? That Scotland's deer estates, or the UK's burned heather lands farmed for grouse, both cover areas twice the size of Yellowstone National Park? That livestock farms occupy 88% of Wales but contribute 0.7% to its economy – and provide jobs for less than 2% of its people?
Britain is blessed with space. Huge areas of this space produce little in the way of viable food supplies. They sustain few livelihoods, and no young people's futures. We waste space in a way no other nation would allow. The solution is simple: the restoration of our native landscapes, our wildlife – and most of all, our rural jobs. Nature makes money, creates genuine local income, and affords the prospect of a life without subsidy for our dying rural communities. Rebirding was written as the first book with actual solutions for how beautiful and profitable the UK's countryside could one day look – as well as why the impending extinction of our cuckoos, turtle doves and honey-bees is entirely avoidable. Britain has all the space it needs for an epic wildlife recovery. So what's stopping it from happening in our country – and how can we turn things around?
1 - Taming Britain
2 - The Anthropocene
3 - The First Imperative
4 - The Lost Stewards
5 - A Question of Scale
6 - Memory
7 - A Wild Economy
8 - The Wild Highlands
9 - New Forests
10 - The Golden Hills of Wales
11 - A Grouse Moor Wild
12 - Pelican Possibility
13 - Our Birds
14 - Conservation Begins
Benedict Macdonald is a conservation writer, field director in wildlife television, and a keen naturalist; passionate about restoring Britain's wildlife, pelicans included, in his lifetime.
During his extensive global travel experience, Benedict has found inspiring examples of why desecrating our country’s ecosystems is both entirely avoidable and against the national interest. This book is his attempt to ensure that this generation, for the first time in thousands of years, leaves Britain’s wildlife better off, not worse, than the generation before – for wildlife and people alike.
Benedict is a long-time writer for Birdwatching magazine, as well as a contributor to the RSPB Nature’s Home and BBC Wildlife. He has been fortunate to work on TV series for the BBC, Apple and Netflix – most notably the grasslands and jungles programmes of Sir David Attenborough’s conservation series Our Planet: broadcast worldwide on Netflix in April 2019.
– Winner of the Richard Jefferies Society and White Horse Book Shop Literary Prize
"[...] This is an enjoyable and stimulating book. Its vision of a rebirded Britain should become part of our future mind-set."
– Barry Gray, Ibis 163(1), January 2021
"A splendid new book [...] all rational argument seems to be on his side"
– Professor Tim Flannery, The Guardian
"This book made me think. Many writers of the current decade have bemoaned the loss of nature, presented a variety of anthropogenic reasons for the decline (not only in species but also, importantly, in abundance), and hinted at what a more positive future could resemble if we do the right thing. This template makes very straightforward reading for someone like me, who has worked in nature conservation for 40 years. Ben Macdonald’s thesis, on the contrary, is not straightforward at all, and challenges much of the received wisdom about how to bring back Britain’s birds. [...] Rebirding certainly provides food for thought, in any case, and deserves to be read by those interested in a more natural future."
– Andy Clements, British Wildlife 31(2), December 2019
"This is most definitely my book of the year and possibly the whole decade! Regular readers will know I rarely gush and that is usually over the writing skills of authors and not content. This is an unashamed gush for content with an appreciative nod to its very accessible prose and light but deadly serious style. [...] [This book] brings to the fore lessons currently being learned by high profile re-wilding schemes like the Knepp Estate where iconic birds like Nightingale and Turtle Dove have bucked the national trends and then some. This book is a life changer and if we get off our collective backside and scream its messages loudly enough we really could change the entire face of Britain for the better. Buy it, borrow it, but above all read it, and when you have, add your voice to its call for natural salvation."
– Bo Beolens, Fatbirder
"This is a wonderful book, visionary, illuminating and fascinating."
– George Monbiot
"A visionary yet practical book."
– John Burnside, New Statesman
"'It has shaped how I think about my farm, and the choices we make about our land [...]"
– James Rebanks
"An exposé, a plea, and a vision of a better future."
– Simon Reeve
"A wonderfully imaginative book which shows how things could be with our rapidly declining areas of countryside, instead of how – despairingly – they are now."
– Rod Liddle (Associate Editor of The Spectator)
"This passionate, authoritative, up-to-date and ultimately optimistic book is a worthy comparison to such seminal works as George Monbiot's Feral and Mark Cocker's Our Place."
– Jonathan Elphick, BBC Wildlife
"Rebirding is beautifully written, based on deep, personal experience and a genuine love of the subject. You may not have come across Ben Macdonald before now; but believe me, you will hear a lot more from him in the future."
– Stephen Moss
"Having read a number of the recent books about rewilding, I was tempted to think 'Oh blimey, not another one!'. I am now tempted to say 'they left the best till last [...] "
– Bill Oddie
"A book about a key subject at a key time, passionate and deeply thought-through. Anyone concerned with the future of the natural world in Britain will want to read it."
– Mike McCarthy (author of The Moth Snowstorm)
"With George Monbiot's Feral and Isabella Tree's Wilding, Rebirding sits separate from both and is in fact an essential third book to read if you've enjoyed the others. In short, it's a captivating, fascinating and inspiring read"
– Ed Stubbs, Birdwatch Magazine
"This is the best book on nature, conservation and rewilding I read in 2019 – perhaps one of the best I’ve ever read. I finished reading it with a real sense of hope for the future."
– Alex Roddie, Great Outdoors Magazine
"A must read and a good read [...] the type of book that grabs and keeps my attention. You should read it and I think you may well enjoy it a lot."
– Mark Avery
"A beautifully written, thoughtful and yes, provocative book"
– Dr Martin Harper (Conservation Director, RSPB)
"This is a stimulating and important book, beautifully written and well researched [...] It provides a compelling vision for the future"
– Dr Carl Jones (Chief Scientist, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust)
"I thoroughly recommend the book and applaud its breadth and detail [...] Macdonald's book has really surprised me. I have learned much I did not know about Britain's early bird faunas, and even the history of its mammals [...] The level of treatment and scholarly references are on a par with conservation science books"
– Peter Taylor, ECOS Magazine
"Rebirding is an exceptional book from an exceptional author. Visionary, courageous, critical, Benedict maps out how we might finally turn things around, rewilding our national parks, restoring natural ecosystems and allowing our wildlife a far richer future."
"A captivating, fascinating and inspiring read"