Feral (Monbiot book)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Feral - Rewilding the land, sea and human life
Feral (Monbiot book).jpg
Searching for enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding
AuthorGeorge Monbiot
PublisherPenguin Books
Publication date
October 2013
Published in English
October 2013
Media typepaperback

Feral is a book about rewilding by the British environmentalist George Monbiot. It was published by Allen Lane (a hardback imprint of the Penguin Group) in 2013 with the full title Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding. The book has also been published as Feral: rewilding the land, sea and human life (paperback and American editions).[1]

Monbiot looks at rewilding projects around the world. However, he pays particular attention to the scope for rewilding in the United Kingdom. He argues that overgrazing is a problem in the British uplands and calls for sheep numbers to be reduced so that areas can be rewilded.[2] Such ideas received criticism from organisations representing farmers, for example the Farmers' Union of Wales.[3] On the other hand, the book received favourable reviews, including in publications normally hostile to Monbiot's work, such as The Spectator[4] and The Daily Telegraph.[5] Many reviewers were impressed by the lyrical nature of the book's prose style. According to the New Statesman's reviewer "something about the charm and persistence of Monbiot’s argument has the hypnotic effect of a stoat beguiling a hapless rabbit".[6]

Origin and Definition of ‘Rewilding’ Concept[edit]

By Monbiot's own account, rewilding was a fringe interest at the time he published the book.[7] However, there had been attempts at rewilding in Britain such as "Wild Ennerdale" at Ennerdale, Cumbria, a project which Monbiot finds limited in scope.

The word ‘rewilding’ entered the dictionary in 2011,[6] with its definition greatly contested from the start.[8] Initially, it was defined as releasing captive animals into the wild, but the definition was soon expanded to describe the reintroduction of animal and plant species to habitats from which they had been excised. In other circles, the term is used to indicate the rehabilitation of entire ecosystems, instead of particular species only. The definitions preferred by the author differ slightly from these, as they entail permitting ecological processes to resume (without human intervention), and embracing the fluctuations in the physical environment (instead of attempting to keep it in a state of arrested development). In summary, Monbiot defines the concept as follows: “Rewilding, to me, is about resisting the urge to control nature and allowing it to find its own way.” [9]

Intended reader[edit]

Monbiot addresses readers who feel the urge for a wilder life and encourages them to challenge their perception of humankind’s place in the world, the world's ecosystems, and the interaction between humankind and nature. [10]

Among other topics, the author looks at the phenomenon of British big cats, supposed sightings which in his view reflect human origins in a wilder landscape.[11]

Content Format[edit]

After initial chapters that serve as an introduction to the author’s personal and academic interest in the subject matter, the content takes the form of case studies.

Author's Intent and Purpose of Book[edit]

According to the author, case studies relating successful rewilding projects around the world (Scotland, Wales, North America) serve to provide examples of good practice and offer the reader hope (that rewilding is indeed possible). In chapter 11, “The Beast Within (or how not to rewild)”, case studies of rewilding in Slovenia, Croatia, Eastern Poland and the Americas that occurred as result of political tyranny, civil war, genocide and tyranny serve as cautionary tales. The author strongly believes that rewilding must not be an opposition to the people who live on and benefit from the land but must be done with their consent and active engagement.


The book won awards from:

Thomson Reuters/Zoological Record Award (2013). Presented for the public communication of zoology.[12]

Book Award for general biology (2014).[13] Dr William Marshall, Fellow of the Society of Biology and chair of the judging panel, said Feral was an “important and captivating book concerning humanity’s stewardship of the earth”.[14]

The Orion Book Award (2015)


One of the outcomes of the book was the charity Rewilding Britain founded in 2015.[2]

The debate between Monbiot and the farming community about the management of Britain's uplands has continued, for example in the aftermath of the Storm Desmond floods in Cumbria.


  1. ^ "Feral". www.penguin.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-12-02.
  2. ^ a b Piesing, M. "George Monbiot on "rewilding" the countryside". i. Retrieved 2017-12-03.
  3. ^ "FUW Rejects 'Ecological Disaster' Accusation; 'WE WON'T GIVE IN TO LATEST ATTACK ON OUR WAY OF LIFE'". Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales). MGN Ltd. 2013. Accessed via HighBeam Research. 2 Dec. 2017 (subscription required).
  4. ^ "Sam Leith enjoys a vision of Britain where sheep may no longer safely graze". The Spectator. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Philip Hoare is enchanted by a call for the return of bear, beaver and bison to Britain". The Daily Telegraph. London. 28 May 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  6. ^ a b Shilling, Jane (July 2013). "Jay Griffiths, George Monbiot, Sylvain Tesson and Philip Hoare: how pastoral writing is being redefined". New Statesman. Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  7. ^ Monbiot, George. "Britain's National Parks are a farce: they're being run for a tiny minority".
  8. ^ Chambers Dictionary, 12th Edition
  9. ^ Feral, p 9-10
  10. ^ Feral, p 11
  11. ^ Bracke, Astrid. Climate Crisis and the 21st-Century British Novel.
  12. ^ ZSL Scientific Awards winners announced
  13. ^ "Book Awards". www.rsb.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  14. ^ Society Awards Celebrate Biology Books and Art