Thesis Title: Radical Roots: the means and methods of Richard St. Barbe Baker, Man of the Trees
2002-2005, BA Illustration, the University of the West of England
2012-2014, MA Landscape Architecture, the University of Sheffield
Whilst doing the MA in Landscape Architecture I began to imagine pursuing a career in research as I was hugely inspired and challenged by the breadth and scope of the work being undertaken in the Landscape Department and the lively research culture which exists here. Having completed my masters’ thesis on Richard St. Barbe Baker I was privileged to be encouraged by Dr Woudstra to continue my research at postgraduate level. I was awarded a university scholarship which is a fantastic validation of the importance and interest of my research into this extraordinary man.
The life and work of Richard St. Barbe Baker, founder of the Men of the Trees, one of the world’s greatest foresters, environmentalists and conservationists, spans most of the twentieth century. So wide-ranging were his achievements, taking in such a breadth of countries, cultures and figures, that to address all their aspects could be daunting. He was a prodigious and innovative writer and broadcaster, bringing his message about the importance of trees in creating and regulating the world’s atmosphere to audiences around the world.
Regrettably, Baker’s name is fading, as is the awareness of his awakening of people around the world to the wholescale damage being done to wild and agricultural landscapes through deforestation and unsustainable land management. He made many valuable contributions to the science of forestry, and is considered a pioneer of social-forestry and agro-forestry, as well as tirelessly getting his message across to children, young people and adults through his work with the Men of the Trees.
Key to my analysis will be the examination of previously unstudied documents and artefacts that relate to Baker and the Men of the Trees. Over the course of my studies I have had the opportunity to visit the University of Southampton, Kew Gardens Library, Economic Botany Collection and Herbarium, as well as making a three week trip to Canada to visit the University of Saskatchewan Special Collection and Archive which holds the bulk of his personal and professional material: the Baker Papers. It will be through close study of this material that Baker’s unique method of developing ways of distilling and disseminating concepts regarding the role of trees in all aspects of life will be explored.
I have been awarded travel and research grants from the Landscape Architecture Canada Foundation, the Canada UK Foundation to undertake the 2016 trip to Saskatoon and a Landscape Research grant to travel to Kenya and Ethiopia in January 2017. In 2016 I was invited to participate in the first Dumbarton Oaks Garden and Landscape Studies Graduate Summer Workshop in Washington DC.
Writing and publications
Women at the Heart of the Men of the Trees a short history of the women involved in the Men of the Trees for the ITF on International Women’s Day 2017
Getting creative when your PhD changes direction Blog for the Department of Landscape’s SOLA on the necessity for creative thinking when addressing landscape regeneration
‘Groves as metaphor for the fragmented redwood forests of California’ chapter for forthcoming book on the history of Groves, edited by Dr Jan Woudstra and Dr Colin Roth and available later in 2017 from Routledge
History of Environment, Ecological Thought, Forestry, Literature and Communication, Interwar politics and society, children’s publishing and archival and curatorial studies.