George Monbiot, the author, despises the sterile confinement of civilization and dreams of transforming Britain’s sheep farms—which he hates with a passion-- into natural ecosystems for re-wilding flora and fauna…
To know why Monbiot hates sheep farming is to know what underlies his vision of “re-wilding’ open spaces. He says, Sheep farming… is a slow-burning ecological disaster, which has done more damage to the living systems of this country than either climate change or industrial pollution. Yet scarcely anyone seems to have noticed.” Monbiot is not exaggerating. In Wales alone, there are 3 sheep to 1 human, and the uplands are akin to deserts because sheep gobble up most greenery. The barren soil cannot hold water, so flooding is a big problem.
Instead of the barren, ugly, monoculture sheep farming landscape he sees around him in the UK, Monbiot envisions—for not just the UK, but for all of Europe--a re-wilding that reintroduces not just more pedestrian wildlife such as wolves, bison, beavers, lynx, etc., but also hippopotamuses, rhinos, and elephants.
Monbiot states that such re-wilding will result in vibrant, balanced ecosystems, restored wetlands, and lead to much more sustainable livelihoods for people who are currently involved in sheep farming and forestry. Monbiot does not indulge in what some may consider fantastical visioning all the time. He pauses to consider practical consequences such as the emergence of a booming eco-tourist industry if rewilding occurs.
But his strongest argument for his re-wilding vision is definitely not rooted in practical considerations. It’s philosophical: Monbiot resoundingly proclaims that re-wilding open spaces is good for our souls. (more)