One year on…

Warm September sunshine, weather for basking. Dappled shade beneath the protecting trees, conversation, time to think. Talk of nature, community, landscape, culture, story, and wood. And then firelight and stories and music, and light reflected upwards into the branches.

Only a year ago? If you’re like me, it feels like longer. But not so long that I don’t look back with warm and fresh memories of a truly special couple of days. And find myself quoting examples from the conference, and recollecting things I learned and came to understand better, because of it.

What about you? How does it look from this distance? Has the warmth of that weekend left a mark in your life? Effected a change, however subtle or simple?

If you have a recollection, reflection, or reconsideration to share, please do…

With warm wishes


5 thoughts on “One year on…

  1. Hi Gavin and Caroline,

    Your timely mail arrived whilst I was reflecting on a passage from a text about ‘Community collaboration in forest management’?!. Why was I reading this? Well, all will become clear as you read my post below, which I have unusually written in one go and decided not to edit being, as it is, a post from the heart and the head!?

    We met once, at last year’s at the Woodland Edge, a couple of days that, well forgive me, still brings a ‘tear to my eye’ and a feeling of total relaxation and enlightenment. Now I don’t wish to get all hippy and emotional, that is not my way. I am after all a man and have spent 25 years in industry dealing with all manner of everyday and less-everyday issues?! But let me just remind ourselves of how I arrived at Woodland Edge.

    I had been aware of forests and foresters from my early years when, growing up at the foot of the hills on the northern edge of the North York Moors, I was aware of the transforming landscape and the family friends who worked in the industry. However, over the years I never really thought much more about woods, forests or their people. Clearly they were always there, I visited many over the years and passed through and by many more going here and there in my busy, everyday life. It was a little over two years ago that I decided to turn my life (and that of my understanding wife!) upside down. Leaving the comfort of the electronics industries’ many guises and too many years sat behind a desk at ever increasing elevations, I decided to change it all and go back to college. So began, up to now, a two year journey of discovery of forests and the environment, with the simultaneous embarkation on a Forestry Masters Degree and a Countryside BSc Degree.

    Woodland Edge came after my first year of, seemingly, continuous study, which after all is what happens if you begin two degree courses at the same time?! Not really knowing much about the industry, its workings, its peoples or, indeed, its effect on others, I came to your conference full curiosity, fear and excitement. Imagine therefore my total surprise to not only be presented with the most perfect late summer weather and a tented idyll surrounded by the most beautiful woodlands, but people from all walks of life who had a desire to listen to and communicate experiences and thoughts about all things woodland and its effects on the role and everyday lives of others. Was it not that well respected forester, Jack Westoby, who remarked in his seminal and retrospective view of a life as professional forester, that ‘woodlands and forestry is not so much about trees as it is about people’. How right he was.

    Now, whether after my decision to change career and continuing studies I find some gainful employment amongst one of our many woodlands or their environs, what I can say is that after those two days in late summer 2011 I knew I had made the right decision. Listening to people talk passionately about their experiences and everyday interactions with others within the woodland edge brought home to me those words of the late Jack Westoby and a desire to learn more about how people interact and realise value, tangible or not, from within or being close to forests. Woodland Edge not so much reinforced my decision to study what I am, but rather totally reinforced my decision to have got up, looked to learn something new and embraced change and uncertainty.

    So thanks, again, to all those who organised, volunteered, presented, prepared the food and, importantly, laid on the weather for a most wonderful two days and here’s hoping that we (all) meet again sometime at the edge of a woodland nearby!


  2. The event taught me simplicity, I have not used powerpoint since and have not tried to educate, train or meet anyone indoors. Most of the time you can think clearer outdoors.

  3. I remember the conference very well. For me, it was a very important and inspirational event which came at an important time in my young career. I graduated with a some-what jaded perspective on the world into which I was entering, whilst equally passionate and determined to be the change we need to see. For me, the woodland edge conference gave me faith and confidence that everything will indeed be OK; renewing my faith in people. That is not all, the talks and personal communications furnished my thoughts enabling me to add detail to plans with a broader understanding of practical issues influencing the direction in which the environmental industry is moving.

    The place, the woods, simply deepened the inherent connection I feel to trees. This was certainly facilitated by speaking with the tree dowser 🙂

    As a whole, the experience further equipped me to take an active role in shaping our future. It was a truly valuable occasion which I feel needs to be an annual fixture in many diaries.

    So, thank you again to all who made it possible.

    Best Wishes,

    James Goodwin

  4. This was the best conference I’ve ever attended. Everyone was friendly, no one looked over my shoulder to see if there was someone more important they should be talking to, people talked about Kant and Aristotle and conversations with trees and what being a forest warden involved (a lot of tackling kids on scooters from what I heard!), everyone was passionate about what they’d achieved, about communicating what they’d learned and tackling the future head on – so I loved it and learned a lot. Maybe the sunshine and waking up in a tent looking across a field helped, and maybe being able to sit under a tree in the pitch dark and listen to owls and random rustling helped too!

    Whatever – I wish Neroche the best of luck for the future.

    Diane Beddoes

  5. A busy year with, as always, the positive and the negative. A disappointment was the Forestry Policy Panel report which failed to recognise the huge potential for community woodland business but the further consultation by Defra has allowed us to try again to promote the opportunity. Our own (Hill Holt) 10th anniversary conference hopefully was a further step on the journey travelled at the ‘Edge’.
    The story is certainly spreading as I have been contacted by a student from India requesting an intern-ship next year to support my ‘research’ following the Edge report in Bios.
    The Edge goes worldwide.

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