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.
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.