Evolving the Forest
Dartington Hall, Devon, England (TQ9 6EL)
incorporating the 2019 Annual Conference of the Royal Forestry Society
an art.earth™ Creative Summit
#forests100 | #evolvingtheforest
A three-day international gathering bringing together creative thinkers and doers to explore the forest and how we live with trees. Evolving the Forest is convened by art.earth, the Royal Forestry Society and Timber Strategies.
“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.” — Herman Hesse
They are the stuff of myth and fairy tale, fear and desire. We revere them for their age and beauty. We climb them, nurture them, carve them as memorials of lost loves, preserve them. We plant them. We cut them down to build houses and make toothpicks. We bring them into our houses in celebration of festivals whose historic roots we have long forgotten, or simply lost touch with. We build houses in them, bringing wings to our flights of fancy. Poets, artists and the weavers of stories continue to find inspiration in them, as they have for millennia.
Trees are perhaps the most ubiquitous objects in our lives. Despite the fact that some countries – like our own – are largely denuded of ancient forest, we still feel a powerful tug of something primitive, ghostly even, as we look on a vast oak or a towering ash.
Evolving the Forest is a three-day symposium drawing together a wide variety of voices to explore our wondrous heritage of woodland and forest. It marks 100 years of modern forestry in the UK and looks forward to the next hundred, incorporating the annual conference of the Royal Forestry Society. We hear the voices of foresters, environmental managers, policy-makers, scientists and other experts; we listen to artists and architects, writers, philosophers and others who wander and wonder in our varied British forests; and we learn from others around the world about their own cultural connections to trees, and the wood that produces some of the world’s most useful and most beautiful objects.
The event kicks off at 16.00 on Wednesday June 19 with an opening keynote address from Prof. Fiona Stafford who explores our cultural relationship to trees and woodland and Why Trees Matter. Later that evening is a public conversation with three individuals key to our future relationship with trees: Sir Harry Studholme, Chair of the Forestry Commission, Beccy Speight, CEO of the Woodland Trust, and broadcaster, author and architect Piers Taylor (CEO Invisible Studio, Presenter of The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes BBC2). These two events set out the key themes for the main conference which begins on Thursday June 20.
Unusual in its breadth of voices and knowledges – an approach that typifies the annual international gatherings organised by art.earth – those key themes will include investigations of our treed landscapes, working with and growing timber as a material, agro-forestry and forest gardens, policy development, forest and species management, trees and climate change mitigation, urban forests, art and narrative, and how we live with woods and trees.
Thursday sees the second keynote and NDG James Memorial Lecture (presented by the Royal Forestry Society) by Prof Kathy Willis CBE who will explore ‘the framing of the UK’s Forests: past, present and future.’ Prof Willis is Principal of St Edmund Hall and Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford, until recently Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. She will present some key ideas around terms such as ‘natural capital’ and ‘nature’s contribution’ that many find very difficult to swallow but which have become a key metric in determining how government resources are allocated to trees and woodland, from protection to decisions about forestry and trees as a resource.
Other controversial topics include tree sentience, evolution or revolution in future forestry policy, the many ways by which we measure and value trees and woodland, future forestry policy and how we best manage species for climate change and infrastructure development, wood as a material (particularly for housing), and the relationship between art and science in representing our relationship with trees, woodland and landscape.
The artistic voice is an essential one, scattered throughout the event and reminding us constantly of how and why we love trees and how fundamental they are to our relationship with the natural world and the living planet, even as populations continue to shift away from the rural. Indeed, as that shift progresses, trees become arguably the most potent symbol of the living planet within a hardscaped urbanised built environment.
Registration for Evolving the Forest is open and available either as a residential or non-residential package. A number of the events outlined here are also open to the general public and can be booked separately.
Evolving the Forest takes place between June 19 and 21, 2019, at Dartington Hall in the beautiful South Hams in south Devon. For more information visit evolvingtheforest.uk and dartington.org. The event is produced by art.earth in association with The Royal Forestry Society (rfs.org.uk) and Timber Strategies (timberstrategies.com).
The NDG James Memorial Lecture (Thursday): Prof. Kathy Willis CBE, Principal St Edmund Hall, Univ. of Oxford and until recently Director of Science at Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew) more info…
[a limited number of seats are available for non-delegates BOOK NOW]
Featured Guests at opening night Gala
[a limited number of tickets are available to non-delegates BOOK HERE]
The official Centenary Celebration
The Forestry Commission has now launched their official centenary site. This will eventually contain their full programme of activity for the year #forests100. There is no direct connection between their programme and Evolving the Forest.
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