25th March 2015
Oliver Rackham remembered
Many of those working to protect ancient trees will have been saddened by the recent death of Oliver Rackham, woodland ecologist and landscape historian.
Rackham was a great supporter of ancient trees, and trustees and supporters of the Ancient Tree Forum have enjoyed hearing him speak about them on many occasions at our own events and elsewhere. Chris Knapman, chair of the ATF’s Devon group, says of Rackham ‘The first time I met him and listened to him speak, I had to drive through the snow to Okehampton, because I was determined not to miss the opportunity. He remains an inspiration and a true hero of historical ecology and conservation.’ The ATF’s Caroline Davis is another admirer of Rackham, as a ‘colourful, authoritative communicator whose writings were hugely formative for me and many thousands of others’.
In 2010, Oliver Rackham went to the ATF’s summer forum at Staverton Park (pictured above), in his native county, Suffolk, and in 2014 he joined forces with the ATF at the Stock Gaylard Oak Fair. He drew the crowds in to our marquee (pictured below), where he received a copy of Ancient and other veteran trees: further guidance on management’, pored over historic maps of the site with visitors, then joined Sean Cooch of the ATF to lead guided walks looking at fungi and ancient trees.
Brian Muelaner, Chair of the Ancient Tree Forum, recalls one of the most memorable times he met Oliver Rackham at his Flatford Mill ancient woodlands course in the late 1980s: ‘He was astonishing – every day of the course went from 9am till around 10pm, finishing in time for a very quick run to the pub for last calls. He had no notes, just this remarkable ability to entertain and enthral all of us with his encyclopaedic knowledge of British woodlands, their biology and history. All that were lucky enough to meet him will sorely miss him’.