Oliver Rackham and the woodland owner

Oliver Rackham and the woodland owner

Oliver Rackham has been described as 'one of the really outstanding botanical writers of our times', his work being deemed 'seminal' and his books 'meticulously researched'. Rackham has raised huge amounts of awareness for the issues faced by woodlands and the importance of their conservation. In 1998, he was awarded the OBE for services to Nature Conservation, and so Rackham's principles are in line with our own of 'conservation and enjoyment'. He has reinforced respect for woodlands and so is a key figure to know about when owning your own.

Rackham's book Ancient Woodland profoundly changed the way larger companies appreciate woodlands. After it's publication, The Forestry Commission began providing greater protection to ancient woodlands and The Woodland Trust became large woodland owners themselves to ensure conservation. Not only this, but the book has become obligatory reading for all scientists working on any aspect of woodlands, proving Rackham's work to be a globally recognised resource. Not only was the 1980 edition of this book hugely influential but the launch of the 2003 edition meant it went on being current, and addressed new issues regarding the conservation of woods - such as rapid climate change.

As a woodland owner, it is important to recognise the need for conservation of woodlands. As Rackham frequently points out, our woods are a living, breathing part of our heritage and therefore it is our responsibility to protect them. In owning a wood, you are playing a part in ensuring its conservation. As an advocate of such preservation,  Oliver Rackham is highly relevant to the woodland owner as he knows better than any the difficulties with, and the obstacles set against conservation. primroseOne thing Rackham considers in his work is the issue of managing woodland. Many ancient woodlands have become dark and overgrown as the older techniques of management have been abandoned. Whilst it's important to conserve the natural beauty of your wood,  it is also important to enhance it through techniques, such as coppicing. Letting light in often result in an increase in the diversity of the herb layer.  Rackham works as a tutor in the Kingcombe Centre in Dorset teaching others about the history of woodlands and how best to respect that.

Not only does Rackham inspire the woodland owner to conserve, but he also writes on the importance of trees and wood throughout history. As a historical ecologist, Rackham has written books such as Woodlands which traces British woodlands through the ages and studies how they have achieved national interest. Oliver Rackham, then, it's not just important when considering to preserve and enhance your woodland, but can also help you delve into the past of your land, learning how and why it came to be.


Well done for highlighting the work of Oliver Rackham, which I thoroughly recommend. I have copies of most of his books,(Woodlands; The Last Forest; The History of the Countryside; Trees and Woodlands in the British Landscape; etc) which contain a wealth of knowledge; and have certainly helped me to understand many of the features that I have observed. His books helped me look for, and notice, things in the first place.

Linda Dolata

6 January, 2014

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