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Now and next

The veil of January madness that saw us eyes down in projects and glued to our screens has lifted. We took a moment the other day to breathe and take stock. Turns out, we have a lot going on. And so much of it is stuff we’re really excited about, so we thought we’d share.

Where to start?

We’ve almost finished producing a Tree Strategy for Somerset. This has been an ambitious project to take a renewed look at what a tree strategy should look like. The final approved strategy should be out in March. Anyone expecting anything in the vein of the now traditional ‘County Tree Strategy’ is in for a shock…

February sees us kick off projects that have been building and sitting in the wings for a little while now. Our collaboration with the University of Plymouth is starting to produce results. In December we had history students out collecting oral histories on Dartmoor and in the wooded estuaries, capturing first-hand evidence of changing treescapes. These narratives have now been passed to Plymouth illustration students who we’ve taken on an exploration of the area. From here they will start to play with ways of communicating the urgent stories of our trees in new creative forms. The results will feed into our work on the renewal of trees on Dartmoor and the future Estuarine Oak woodland. Comics? Animations? Board games? We are excited to see where this leads and the new audiences we can connect with.

The Estuarine Oak project is now getting off the ground. Curious as to the state and future wellbeing of the woodlands that border the river Dart. We need to understand if these woodlands are threatened by factors such as pests & diseases, reduced natural regeneration or lack of management. Much of the woodland there is single-age, single-species, and mature. Working alongside landowners, we will explore how best to bring these woodlands into long-term resilient management in a project that will be three years in the making.

Making supply-chain connections

Our supply-chain development work continues a pace. Increasingly we are working with clients wanting to develop supply-chains of timber from forests whose objectives are around long-term soil health and ecological resilience. With the Woodland Trust on Dartmoor we are exploring the use of low-value timber in very ordinary construction; helping Grown in Britain and the National Trust link internal supply-chains; with Cardiff City Council and the London Boroughs exploring opportunities for timber from urban forestry. We have mostly been excited about the amount of really high value treescapes out there that have unrealised potential to produce very high value timber in ecologically resilient, climate adapted ways.

Evolving Forests first documentary

Our first foray into documentary making and we cannot wait to share it officially. It’s feeling so close now. We filmed our last segment the other week, here on our doorstep at Plymouth Poole Farm. Together with film from communities in Nepal, Germany and Scotland, this will consider the connection of people, places and trees. We’ll be test-screening in February and Alice will be making final edits in March.

The film will be part of the Film Festival now scheduled for Autumn 2023. With the sad loss of our partners Art.Earth we had to either pull the plug on Evolving the Forest or take it and run with it. It’s a hugely exciting departure for us to be looking at a public facing programme of events. Over three days the festival will show a juried selection of shorts, micros and feature-length films, conversations, panel discussions, workshops exploring the place of trees in visual media. There will be prizes for best film and best film by a young director. The festival will continue on-line with all the live features and an expanded list of shortlisted films. Lots of opportunity to get involved in person or online.

On the topic of filming

We seem to be kicking 2023 off with lots of filming for projects outside of our own too. From the Devon locations to the Peak District, Shropshire and Herefordshire to name just a few. We will be working on projects for the Woodland Trust, Cumbria Woodlands, Sylva Foundation, Grown in Britain and the National Trust. Collecting stories, talking to people involved in circular use of the timber they grow and trees they care for, and creating works that help woodland owners and managers complete Woodland Management Plans. We love collaborating with others to tell their stories and share their work and worlds. More to come on this lot over the coming months.

What else?

Probably too much to mention for one brief post, but we’re helping out with an impressive piece of sculpture happening up north with aims to educate and inspire awe. As well as getting involved in a strategy to increase woodland within London. Meanwhile, Cat is forging ahead with her research at Hooke Park. Creating baseline data from which to help guide the future of woodland management at the Architectural Association’s woodland campus. Caz will be finding her feet among the different project threads and bringing her wealth of experience, knowledge and boundless energy. And Jez will simply be doing his best to keep track of the ‘Ka’ and ‘Ca’ humans he now works with. It’s confusing for us, so he doesn’t stand a chance. Maybe we’ll change his name to Cameron.

Signing off for now,Cameron, Caz, Cat, and Kath


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