Nestling among the barren wilderness of Dartmoor is one of three rare wild woods. Piles Copse is a woodland mainly comprising pedunculate oak Quercus robur. The trees, festooned with mosses and lichens, are rich in biodiversity. It is an English rainforest, and a relic of woodland which once covered much of the hilly region.
For my short story in Arboreal (Little Toller Books, 2016) I decided to write from the perspective of an old man looking back on the transformation of Dartmoor due to the withdrawal of farming subsidies and application of visionary environmental policies. I drew a couple of sketches that didn’t make it into the book.
Our life on Earth is entwined with trees, even if we’re not always aware of their importance. It often takes a special moment for us remember the significance of something we can so easily take for granted. The Year 2017 is one such moment for trees and forests in the UK, this being the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest.
The same year that I started planting Paradise Wood, a new forest and centre for forestry research in Oxfordshire, I started recording a view of the former arable farm from the nearby vantage point of the Wittenham Clumps. 2015 is the 19th year of photographing the same view of the