Pioneering project to return farmland to nature

Knepp Castle
Knepp Castle

A pioneering project to re-wild farmland at an estate on the edge of Horsham is being immortalised in a new book.

‘Wilding: The return of nature to a British farm’ tells the story of the remarkable transformation of the 3,500 acre Knepp Castle estate at West Grinstead.

Sir Charles and Lady Issy Burrell at Knepp Castle. SUS-171206-145333001

Sir Charles and Lady Issy Burrell at Knepp Castle. SUS-171206-145333001

It has been written by Isabella Tree who recounts how she and her husband Sir Charles Burrell were forced to accept that intensive farming on the heavy clay of their land at Knepp was economically unsustainable.

They made a spectacular leap of faith and decided to let nature take over - resulting in an extraordinary increase in wildlife. Free-roaming cattle, ponies, pigs and deer were introduced. And it has led to extremely rare species like turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons and purple emperor butterflies now breeding there. Populations of more common species are also rocketing.

Isabella’s book - already an Amazon bestseller - is published on May 3. Meanwhile she will be giving an illustrated talk about the new book at Waterstone’s bookstore in Horsham on Tuesday May 1 at 6.30pm.