Lady Isabella Burrell (Isabella Tree) has kindly agreed to give a talk to our club on “The Return to Nature on the 3500 acre Knepp Estate”.
The talk will take place on Monday February 11th at 7pm and will be followed by a buffet supper. We are anticipating a sell out of 80 tickets, which will cost £10 per head and any profit will go to our Charity Funds.Book now by email us: email@example.com.
The Wilding project is pioneering stuff, which is being followed closely by ecologists and nature lovers from far and wide, and it’s happening on our doorstep!
Background to the Project
In 1988 Charlie Burrell inherited Knepp Castle and its 3500 acre estate, and the title, from his Grandfather, Sir Walter Burrell. By 2000, having tried various farming approaches, including ice cream production from their three herds of dairy cattle, it became clear that conventional farmingmethods, in small fields on the heavy Wealden clay, couldn’t compete with larger farms on better soil elsewhere, so he decided to hand the farm over to Nature and see if ‘she’ could do a better job.So started the Knepp Wilding project, and the results have been spectacular, and unexpected.
For a start all the insects came back, by the million, followed by the birds, which took advantage of the wider hedgerows and scrubland for cover, and today Knepp has the largest population of Turtle Doves in the country and is home to many nesting pairs of nightingales during the migration season. The natural grazers that would have roamed the wooded countryside in prehistoric times such as aurochs, tarpan and boar have been replaced by Old English longhorn cattle, Exmoor ponies, and Tamworth pigs. The natural roe deer population has been reinforced with red deer, and fallow deer from the Petworth Estate, and the introduction of all these grazers has resulted in a dynamic mosaic of habitats. This experiment has been running for eighteen years now and the results continue to surprise and amaze.
The cattle, pigs and deer are regularly culled so Knepp Estate provides a source of pasture-fed beef, pork and venison locally, and a burgeoning eco-tourism business – comprising camping, glamping and guided safaris – have a special appeal to nature lovers. As a result of all these changes the farmland is now operating at a profit.
Charlie’s wife Isabella has recently written a book on this fascinating and ongoing project called simply, Wilding, under her maiden name of Isabella Tree.