Charlie studied Advanced Farm Management at Cirencester Agricultural College.
Upon inheriting Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex from his grandparents in 1987 he threw his energy into the farm business yet despite intensifying and diversifying, farming on the heavy Sussex clay remained unprofitable. His damascene conversion to rewilding began after meeting the visionary Dutch ecologist Frans Vera.
All 3,500 acres of the Knepp Estate are now devoted to a process-led rewilding project involving free-roaming herds of cattle, horses, pigs and deer as the drivers of habitat creation. The results have been spectacular. Since its inception in 2001, numerous Red Data species like lesser spotted woodpeckers, long-eared owls and ravens have returned to Knepp and populations of common species are rocketing.
Knepp Wildland is now a breeding hotspot for turtle doves and purple emperor butterflies, and can boast 2% of the UK’s breeding population of nightingales. Knepp Wildland’s Advisory Board comprises 22 eminent ecologists and conservationists, including Frans Vera.