Arboreal: A Collection of Words from the Woods

There was a public outcry in 2010 when the government announced plans to sell off much of the public forest, consisting of some 635,000 acres including royal forests and ancient woods. Such a widespread and emotional response led to a U-turn, it also tells us just how important woodlands still are, even if they are no longer part of our everyday life. No other landscape matches the variety of life in a woodland; both above and below ground. They are given names on our maps, shape our language, feed our imagination. Two centuries ago, when woodlands were still at the heart of the parish economy, trees, hedgerows, spinneys and copses paid their way providing fuel, thatch, bedding, timber, woodland pasture for pigs, medicine from bark and wild harvests of nuts and berries. This role declined in the 19th and 20th centuries and the arrival of cheap coal, imported timber, the felling and grubbing up of whole ancient woodlands, and the policy to plant conifer plantations meant that the small deciduous woodlands either disappeared or became irrelevant to local industry and communities. This landmark anthology reminds us why woodlands matter and combines essays from a variety of important contributors . These include Ali Smith, Simon Leatherdale, Alan Garner, Alec Finlay, Simon Armitage, David Nash, Fiona Stafford, Sara Maitland, George Peterkin, Helen Dunmore, Jen Hadfield, Philip Marsden, Nina Lyon, Paul Kingsnorth, Paul Evans, Richard Skelton, Tobias Hill, Germaine Greer, Fiona Reynolds, Jay Griffiths, Richard Mabey, Pater Marren, Philip Hoare, Deborah Wilenski, Jim Crumley, Rob Penn, Neil Sinden, Piers Taylor, Madeleine Bunting, Kathleen Jamie, William Boyd, Gabriel Hammery, Tim Dee, Evie Wyld, Will Ashon, Sean Lysaght, Robin Walter