Shaping the Wild

Wisdom from a Welsh Hill Farm

Author(s) David Elias

Language: English

Genre(s): General, Welsh Interest

  • April 2023 · 232 pages ·216x135mm

  • · Hardback - 9781915279347
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781915279361
  • · eBook - epub - 9781915279378

About The Book

What can one Welsh hill farm tell us about how we can help nature to thrive?

In recent times, farming has often been viewed as harmful to nature and the environment, causing friction between those wanting to protect wildlife and the farmers whose livelihoods depend on upon the land.

Conservationists and governments frequently propose well-meaning ideas and policies to enable farming and conservation to work together, but all-too-often these do not have the intended results. At the heart of this is a lack of understanding about the realities of farming life and managing the land for nature.

In this captivating debut, conservationist David Elias explores a farm in the Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park and unpacks what it shows us about the gritty reality of trying to reconcile hill farming and caring for nature. Visiting through the seasons, he forms a deep relationship with the land and the people who work it, coming to understand their particular way of life, history and concerns about the future.

It is also a farm rich in nature and he brings his experienced eye to how its habitats and wildlife have been shaped by changing farming practices over the generations.

Through lyrical prose and first-hand conversations with farmers, Elias also shows what current government policies have achieved – or not achieved – and why it is so important for us to understand what it really takes ensure farming families remain on the land while simultaneously allowing nature to flourish.


‘I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys nature and the outdoors, has an interest in farming and conservation, or any reader who revels in beautifully written prose. I would also recommend that any relevant politician or decision maker should read this book from cover to cover.’
Iolo Williams, broadcaster and conservationist

‘Shaping the Wild is a captivating masterpiece from which those on both sides of the gulf that sometimes divides farming and conservation can learn much.’
Nick Fenwick, Farmers’ Union of Wales

‘On the one hand, an extraordinary personal account of nature and its loss, where all the factors contributory to species’ decline are anthropogenic, on the other, a celebration of generations of commitment to landscape; both populated with contemporary facts and figures. It is a story written with love and respect but where our knowledge as to how to act effectively is still in its infancy. Yet, in the end, the author says, “Craig-y-tân has fed my soul.” Thank you, David, it fed mine too.’
Jane Davidson, author of #futuregen: Lessons from a Small Country

About the Author(s)

Author(s): David Elias

David Elias is a retired warden and lifelong conservation enthusiast, whose roles took him from Malawi to the Berwyn Mountains. This is his first book.

Read more