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Review of Arboreal in Nature

Arboreal: a collection of new woodland writing. Little Toller Books. 2016.

This week the long-awaited woodland anthology Arboreal was finally released. Edited by Adrian Cooper the book includes contributions from more than 40 authors, poets, photographers, sculptors and others.

Arboreal: a collection of new woodland writing. Little Toller Books. 2016.

Arboreal: a collection of new woodland writing. Little Toller Books. 2016.

The book is dedicated to the memory of perhaps our most famous and influential woodland ecologist, Oliver Rackham, who died in 2015. Two of his best known books, Ancient Woodland (Edward Arnold, 1980) and The History of the Countryside (J. M. Dent & Sons, 1986) helped shape my learning and love of the British landscape while I studied geography at university in Wales, so it was a privilege to be asked to contribute to this anthology.

My short story Don’t Look Back consists of an interview with me taking place in 2050 and I ‘talk’ about the reforestation of Dartmoor in the face of climate change and changing societal needs. The focus of the story is Piles Copse — currently only one of three tiny fragments of woodland remaining on Dartmoor — yet I describe it being at the heart of a new ‘Dartmoor Forest’ in 2050. I wonder what Rackham may have made of my musings!

The book has received a glowing review by Caspar Henderson in the journal Nature:

“Arboreal . . . resembles a thicket of ancient woodland — unruly and pulsing with life, full of surprises and beauty in both detail and the long view . . .”

“The more than 40 pieces by ecologists, educators, photographers, sculptors and writers, are highly diverse. Their common starting point is that the perceptions, memories and imagination of individuals matter, and that without wonder and reflection, research and action are blind and blundering.”

Natural history: Voices from the greenwood. Review by Caspar Henderson. Nature: 538, pp. 314–315, 20 October 2016. doi:10.1038. Published online: 19 October 2016. Read full review here

Arboreal can be purchased direct from Little Toller Books or all good book shops. List price £20.

Related posts/links:

Caspar Henderson

Top tree and wood books for 2016

An hommage to Jean Giono

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted LifeThe Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life

Today my sequel to French author Jean Giono’s 1954 masterpiece The Man Who Planted Trees and Grew Happiness is published. My book — The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life — is released to coincide with the 46th anniversary of his death in October 1970.

Of some 30 books The Man Who Planted Trees was Giono’s most popular and enduring work. His simple yet beautiful writing emphasised the power of the written word, and opened my mind to environmentalism, revealing how everyone can help make the world better for nature.

In the Foreword to my new book I write:

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life - read more on Amazon

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life

“Giono’s aim was to popularise tree planting, and his allegorical story contrasted the benefits of environmental restoration with the futility and destructiveness of war. More than 60 years later we are following a path towards unprecedented environmental change, and perhaps even greater societal upheaval. At the same time, humanity is drifting ever-more distant from the natural world. Planting trees is now a popular social norm, but harvesting trees is more often associated with exploitation and destruction, even though good silviculture (forest management) is equally important in the care of our forests.”

Jean Giono was born on 30th March 1895 the son of a shoemaker and laundress. He died aged 75 on 9th October 1970, having rarely left his beloved town of Manosque in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department of south-east France. The only significant time he spent away from home was during the First World War when mobilised for four years, two of which he spent at the front, serving as an infantryman at Verdun, Chemin des Dames, and Kemmel. His experiences made him a fervent pacifist, and his strong anti-war stance became a central theme alongside environmentalism in many of his books.

Henry Miller wrote that reading Giono was a “cosmic delight”. His writing transformed Provenance into a place that included adventure, intrigue and passion.

There is a Jean Giono centre at Manosque which acts as a focus for research and dissemination of his work, set in a beautiful historic building with landscaped gardens. Read more

For a list of 30 distinct works, many of which have been translated into English, see: Jean Giono’s works on GoodReads

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The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life
The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life. A short story by Gabriel Hemery

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life

I’m looking forward to the forthcoming release, on October 8th, of my first short story book.

A remarkable true story sows a seed in a young girl’s mind which grows into a lifelong relationship with a forest and its trees, yet she develops an affinity richer than she could ever have imagined.

The Man Who Harvested Trees And Gifted Life is a sequel to Jean Giono’s much-loved 1954 classic, The Man Who Planted Trees And Grew Happiness, and a compelling short story in its own right.

Written by environmentalist Gabriel Hemery, author of The New Sylva, this modern eco-parable encourages us all to seek a stronger affinity between humanity and the natural world.

Available as a kindle book on Amazon from October 8th. Pre-order now.

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life

A short story for Arboreal


Arboreal: a collection of words from the woods. Little Toller Books.

I’ve written a short fictional story which has been selected for inclusion in Arboreal: a collection of words from the woods to be published by Little Toller Books in October.

Bringing together the finest, and best-known, names in contemporary writing, the new anthology explores the many strands of what woodlands mean to us. A landmark publication, it will appeal widely to many readers.

I wanted to create a different slant on the brief, provided by editor Adrian Cooper, to write about a woodland that means something special to me. My story is set in the future, and looks back to the past. My contribution is titled: Don’t look back – Piles Copse, Dartmoor Forest.

More information (and a preorder form) is available on the Little Toller website

London to Paris: a send-off by the new Mayor of London

May 27, 2016

Gabriel Hemery


Some of the intrepid Fund4Trees London to Paris cycling team received a fantastic early send-off by recently appointed Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, last night. The ride proper starts on the morning of Saturday 28th May. The final destination is the 99th French Mayor’s conference in Paris on Tuesday.

The riders posed with Sadiq Khan on the Wandering Tree mural, part of the Charter for trees, woods and people campaign led by Woodland Trust. We are grateful to Craig Harrison, Forestry Commission, for helping organise the send-off, and to Matt Larsen-Daw for the photographs.

Trustees of Fund4Trees will be cycling 285 miles, from London to Paris, to promote our charitable work. The trustees will be joined by representatives of national tree professional bodies. The goal is to deliver a French translation of Trees and Design Action Group’s (TDAG) latest document Trees in Hard Landscapes, which Fund4Trees supported. The ride…

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Tree photos framed in ash

May 7, 2016

Gabriel Hemery

I was delighted to see two of my tree photographs chosen by Chris Boreham Bespoke Woodwork to showcase two of his beautiful picture frames for a forthcoming exhibition.

Boreham_framesMade from locally-sourced sustainable timber, the ash frames feature two square pegs at each corner made from black walnut.

Chris chose two images – ‘Winter Solstice Treescape’ and ‘Lime Avenue Sunset’ – from my exhibition, which is entitled Wittenham Treescapes. See more at:

Chris Boreham Bespoke Woodwork and The Tree Photographer will be exhibiting at the Sylva Foundation Wood Centre during Oxfordshire Artweeks 2016. Open every day from 14-22 (except 18th when the venue is closed for schools). Why not come along if you’re local: entry is free and there will be lots to see from an amazing variety of talented craftspeople.

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