Hey Guys, Andy here. It has been eight months since moving from London and one of the myriad of positives for being in Cheltenham is the proximity of the Glos countryside and, in particular, the Cotswolds. At 787 square miles it is the UK’s largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), a designation for conservation due to its significant landscape value. After both years of COVID lockdown and also city living it has been refreshing to be able to walk out of the front door and quickly find myself surrounded by nature so, while I do not consider myself a landscape photographer, it was only logical to undertake a landscape photography project.

The UK has one of the least amount of forest cover in Europe. With 13% of forest cover the UK sits 38 out of 44 far below the 46% average in a table topped by Finland at 73%. For comparison the global average is 31% with Africa at 21% cover and North and Central America at 35%. A recent report by Forestry, an international journal of forestry research, paints a dire picture with UK forests facing ecosystem collapse. The report points to the fact that forests “play a pivotal role in our response to society’s greatest challenges, such as the climate and biodiversity crises” yet goes on to highlight the risks and dangers such as 8/10 of UK ash trees have been killed by fungal disease and 12, 000 hectares of forest were destroyed by storms in 2021; the impacts of such events on society include poorer air quality, increased drought and flooding. After the felling of the 150 years old Sycamore Gap Tree earlier this year it is hard not to believe that nature is under attack in the UK and that we care too little for the living world.

Introduced to local woodland and forestry by Cotswold Forager Rob Gould, a forager with over 25 years of experience, my landscape project has multiple aims. In addition to the obvious health benefits, such a project forces me to go out and learn about my new surroundings, it encourages me not to be glued to a screen and I’d like to inspire others to follow my example and do the same. 

Seven layers of a beech tree, Cranham wood

Locations include Cleeve Hill, and the Wash Pool within the area, as well as Dowdeswell and Lineover Woods, the latter being the home to a 600 year old beech tree, considered to be the third largest beech in the UK. As of September I have started to visit the locations once a month and will continue to do so for a calendar year; needless to say I will also keep a look out for targets of opportunity, per visit, should they arise. The aim behind the duration of the project is to capture seasonal changes as well as variations in weather and both direction and intensity of light. I will then overlay the twelves frames (per location) into one final photograph. The layering effect, in this instance showing a year in one image, gives the works a dynamism rarely found in stills photography and speaks to a sense of longevity and a photograph being not merely a single moment but rather a record of time. I will make the images available as prints which, due to the composite nature of the editing, have a holographic effect that does not translate to online with a percentage of the profit to be donated to woodland charities.

It is hard to overemphasise the importance of the climate crisis, the role of the UK’s landscape, forests and woods and the requirement for forward thinking before issues become critical; I hope the project stimulates a greater appreciation of their importance and consideration.