At the end of last month, my lifetime professional colleague and friend Dr Peter Savill sadly passed away. I had the great privilege of collaborating widely with Peter from the very beginning of my career in forestry. He was a true gentleman, humble and generous in equal measure, and will be sadly missed.

Peter Savill. Photo by Gabriel Hemery

Dr Peter Savill

Together we planned the creation of Britain’s first research woodland dedicated to hardwood trees, and helped develop a programme dedicated to their genetic improvement. We worked together as trustees for a woodland charity, and he was my academic supervisor for my DPhil at Oxford. We conducted research together, including an epic tree hunting expedition to Kyrgyzstan, and co-authored many scientific papers. Peter later became a trustee of the Sylva Foundation, a charity I co-founded with Sir Martin Wood in 2009.

Foresters around the world will know Peter, either through his respected books on silviculture, or as one of his students he taught while a lecturer at Oxford University.

This morning I had the honour of presenting a short eulogy at his funeral service. While I won’t offer the full text here, I include a short poem that I wrote to remember Peter. For those that knew Peter, I hope this resonates. I’ve titled it ‘Peter Savill DBH’.

Peter Savill DBH

 An undefined acronym would never escape
I can imagine in the margin
A green biro question mark
And a circled ‘RIP’

Generations of foresters
Nurtured and inspired
By basal area and DBH
That’s diameter at breast height

Silviculturist, scientist, tutor, and friend
At 1.3 metres
His heart had the greatest
Diameter at breast height

Peter Savill, DBH

1 Comment

  1. Oh, how terribly saddening to read of the death of Peter Savill! I knew him as an undergraduate of the wonderful ‘Agrifor.’ BA when I was fortunate enough to be a student at St John’s under the extraordinary Colyear Dawkins.
    Peter was one of most approachable, kind, funny and enjoyable lecturers and tutors of any I knew. His small cigars (cigarillos?) and cheerful greetings will remain among my favourite memories of my time at Oxford.

    Thank you, Peter, for all your kindness, support and help. It was good to catch up with you in the summer of 2016. I will always regret your leaving of us. RIP, dear Peter.

    From his namesake, Peter Upton

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