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Evolving the Forest unveils speakers
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A midsummer three-day symposium, Evolving the Forest, is all set to mark 100 years of modern forestry in the UK and look forward to the next hundred.

It will do so through the voices of foresters, environmental managers, policy-makers, scientists and other experts, and the thoughts of artists, writers, philosophers and those who wander and wonder in our varied British forests.

Kathy Willis
Professor Kathy Willis, CBE, from the University of Oxford will be delivering this year’s prestigious Royal Forestry Society NDG James Memorial Lecture against the backdrop of this extraordinary three-day event, at Dartington Hall near Totnes, Devon

Professor Fiona Stafford, Professor of English Language and Literature, Fellow of Somerville College, will open the symposium with a keynote speech reflecting on Why Trees Matter. Author of The Long, Long Life of Trees (Yale 2016), writer and presenter of the BBC Radio 3 series The Meaning of Trees, she will speak on the cultural importance of trees within literature and society from the 18thC to the present day.

A gala dinner will feature the Forestry Commission’s Sir Harry Studholme, Woodland Trust’s Beccy Speight and architect and woodland owner Piers Taylor in conversation as they review the impact of 100 years of the Forestry Commission.

And Professor Kathy Willis, CBE, from the University of Oxford will be delivering this year’s prestigious Royal Forestry Society NDG James Memorial Lecture against the backdrop of this extraordinary three-day event, at Dartington Hall near Totnes, Devon from 19-21 June

The lecture, The Framing of the UK’s forests: past, present and future, will be open to the public as well as conference delegates. It will examine the huge potential of forestry data, from historical records to more recent satellite imagery, to fill gaps in understanding the natural capital benefits provided by UK forests. Professor Willis, who is Principal of St Edmund Hall and Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford and until recently Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew,  will also explore the important steps needed for the UK’s forests to become firmly embedded within natural capital framing.

Break-out sessions will be led by a who’s who of forestry experts – from Keith Kirby on Evolution or Revolution for Future Forestry and Roderick Leslie on transforming the Forestry Commission to Omer Aloni on Forest Policy in the interwar context of the new League of Nation and Simon Leadbeater on Restoring the Sacred to Britain’s Woodland Groves.

Hands-on workshop opportunities will include a visit to Dartington Estate’s pioneering agroforestry and exploring ways to use trees and woodland for health and well- being.

The artistic voice is scattered throughout the event as a constant reminder of how and why we love trees and how fundamental they are to our relationship with the natural world and the living planet. As the shift away from the rural progresses, trees become arguably the most potent symbol of the living planet within a hardscaped urbanised built environment.

The event is produced by art.earth in association with The Royal Forestry Society (rfs.org.uk) and Timber Strategies (timberstrategies.com) and the gala dinner is sponsored by Tilhill Forestry. For more information visit evolvingtheforest.uk.  Limited discount tickets are available to RFS members at www.rfs.org.uk/events/ and by following the conferences links. The RFS is also offering five £150 Spencer Bursaries to students towards ticket, travel and accommodation costs. Details of the bursaries are available at http://www.rfs.org.uk/learning/bursaries-and-studentships/