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A veritable rainforest of cheering revelations - March 27 - 11.25am - 2022

Environmentalist Fred Pearce says trees DO have a future

Out all the wonderful events and talks scheduled for this 10-day festival, Fred Pearce’s ‘A Trillion Trees: How Can We Reforest Our World’ was the the one I was most looking forward to. Which came as a surprise to me since I’m not a natural, ‘instinctive’ environmentalist. For some reason though I immediately circled this event in red. And it didn’t disappoint.
Fred Pearce is so unassuming as an environmental commentator (he’s been the environmental consultant of New Scientist since 1992 and written 14 books on the subject) that it was impossible not to warm to him.
A sort of David Attenborough of Forests, he started as he meant to go on: quietly, understated, peppering his gentle presentation with a blitz of fascinating revelations which, most astonishing of small, weren’t all doom and gloom
True, initially he marked out the ground of just where we, and trees, stand today. “Trees,” he started “are in our collective consciousness from ‘Lord of The Rings’ and ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ to fairy tales, creating a folklore memory of both wonder and scary places. Consequently we both love and fear them. And as someone once noted: ‘They are capable of outliving not just single individuals but whole civilisations’”.
From this launching pad, he did initially focus on the bleaker aspects of how trees and human beings have interacted, and clearly it’s nothing to be proud of. Eloquently, he illustrated this part of his talk with some appropriately desolate observations: “In many forests chainsaws have replaced the sound of birdsong”
But quickly, and reassuringly, he turned the conversation to the more positive future that trees could, with help, inhabit. And surprisingly, he suggested that in many instances, if we just “give them the room” rather than focus on replanting, “Nature will mostly fill it for us. She knows which trees to plant and remember, she’s been doing this for millions of years.”
Utterly captivating and calmly consoling without ever stooping to ‘preachy’, this was a superbly invigorating 60 minutes that offered hope amid the current sea of gloomy prediction.

FT Weekend Title partner BBC World Service International radio partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner University of Oxford New College Jewish Book Week Partner of Jewish programme Italian Embassy Supporter of Italian programme The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel The festival hotel Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner Marlene Hauser Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Jill Dunsmore David Isaac Carole and John Allen Lucian Hudson Pank Koria CEO of Project People Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Miles Young Emily Rose and James Marrow Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture George Warren Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture John Roberts Owen Mumford Supporter of programme of science and medicine Exeter College Exeter College Trinity College Trinity College Worcester College Worcester College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Cross College St Cross College: Festival college partner. Eastgate Hotel Eastgate Hotel, a festival hotel The Feathers Hotel Woodstock festival hotel Critchleys Accountants to the festival Project People Foodbuy European Union Delegation of the European Union to the United Kingdom T S Eliot Foundation Alan Squire Publishing Sponsor of American novelists and poets Felicity Bryan Associates Conference Oxford Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Said Business School Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner The Oxford Times Regional media partner Oxford Brookes University Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Floris of London City Audio Visual Racalia Olive Oil Olive oil from Sicily Schoolreaders The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography OX magazine Chamberlain Evans Estate agents Siren Communications Siren Communications - corporate consultants Chêne Bleu Wines of Provence Frescobaldi Toscana Wines of Tuscany Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Seacourt Printers Festival printers Compassion in World Farming The Wild Geese Nicholas Hunter Ltd James Currey Society Hattus Books Hattus Books La Cave Musik Pusey House Cervantes Institute, London Confucius Institute Literature Ireland

FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival sponsors, donors & partners

FT Weekend Title partner BBC World Service International radio partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner University of Oxford New College Jewish Book Week Partner of Jewish programme Italian Embassy Supporter of Italian programme The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel The festival hotel Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner Marlene Hauser Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Jill Dunsmore David Isaac Carole and John Allen Lucian Hudson Pank Koria CEO of Project People Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Miles Young Emily Rose and James Marrow Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture George Warren Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture John Roberts Owen Mumford Supporter of programme of science and medicine Exeter College Exeter College Trinity College Trinity College Worcester College Worcester College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Cross College St Cross College: Festival college partner. Eastgate Hotel Eastgate Hotel, a festival hotel The Feathers Hotel Woodstock festival hotel Critchleys Accountants to the festival Project People Foodbuy European Union Delegation of the European Union to the United Kingdom T S Eliot Foundation Alan Squire Publishing Sponsor of American novelists and poets Felicity Bryan Associates Conference Oxford Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Said Business School Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner The Oxford Times Regional media partner Oxford Brookes University Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Floris of London City Audio Visual Racalia Olive Oil Olive oil from Sicily Schoolreaders The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography OX magazine Chamberlain Evans Estate agents Siren Communications Siren Communications - corporate consultants Chêne Bleu Wines of Provence Frescobaldi Toscana Wines of Tuscany Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Seacourt Printers Festival printers Compassion in World Farming The Wild Geese Nicholas Hunter Ltd James Currey Society Hattus Books Hattus Books La Cave Musik Pusey House Cervantes Institute, London Confucius Institute Literature Ireland