Hearts of Oak: Caring for British Woodlands

Lead Academic – Amy Cutler (Leeds)
Sarah Rees Jones (York)
Felicity Stout (Sheffield)
The primary aim of this collaborative project is to create the first cross-institutional hub of its kind for interdisciplinary research into British woodlands. Bringing together established and emerging scholars across a wide range of disciplines––archaeology, environmental science, geography, history, literary/cultural studies––the project will consider woodlands as a vitally important part of the natural and cultural heritage of the UK. While recent debates over the future of Britain’s woodlands have created powerful communities of support, they have also generated their fair share of conflict, e.g. in heated discussions of DEFRA’s ‘Great British Forestry Question’, which revolves around the status and management of Britain’s public forested estate. The project will address contemporary policy in light of the social and environmental histories of British woodlands. In keeping with the RCUK’s ‘Care for the Future’ remit, the project will consider the cultural dimensions of woodlands as a legacy: as both a significant point of access for historical interpretation and an equally important point of reference for the environmental and cultural futures of the UK. Working in concert with the new EU-funded Innovative Training Network in Environmental Humanities, based at the University of Leeds, the project will highlight the role of humanities research in addressing environmental issues and problems at both the national and international (especially European) levels. Broader cultural, as well as specific technical, aspects of British woodland management will be addressed in collaborative work with regional and national policymakers and community groups, as well as academics from a wide variety of British universities, culminating in a 2015 large-scale conference in Leeds. Two further important aims of the project are to build a collaborative platform for future funding applications in this area, and to secure a sustainable infrastructure for work in Environmental Humanities, both across the three White Rose Universities and beyond.

Other academics involved with the project
Dr. David Higgins (Leeds); Dr. George Holmes (Leeds); Prof. Graham Huggan (Leeds); Dr. Catherine Scott (Leeds); LEAF: Leeds Ecosystem Atmosphere and Forest Centre (Leeds).
Dr. Jonathan Finch (York); Dr. Mark Jenner (York); Dr. Robert Marchant (York); Prof. David Moon (York); IPUP: The Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past (York).

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