Repairing the damage humans have done to the planet is a colossal challenge. One way we can restore some of its natural ecosystems is through rewilding: making more room for natural processes and allowing other species the freedom to shape their environments, with human management kept to a minimum.

Fundamentally, rewilders emphasize hands-off practices to restore ecosystem functions. “Taking our hands off the steering wheel and allowing nature the time and space to express itself is one of the fundamentals of rewilding,” write Tree and Burrell. But in reality, this often means intervening intensively in the short term—say, by culling deer that eat young trees or reintroducing wolves—so that natural processes like forest regrowth can play out.

Not since the eco-­utopian communes of the 1960s and ’70s has there been such an appetite for practical guides to engineering our surroundings to meet the needs of nature. A growing number of books propose practical projects to repair the natural environment, with the aim of leading us out of ecological anxiety toward hope for a wilder world. Matthew Ponsford takes a look at three new titles, and what those of us without hectares of land to our names can do to help.

What “rewilding” means-and what’s missing from this new movement