Due to Covid-19 we have had to cancel this course, we hope you will find an event later in the year that you can attend.

The course will look at woodland management and how native woods are managed and perpetuated. It will include studies of: shade, the reproduction of trees, soils, coppicing and other management practices as well as tree diseases. This course will be of interest to woodland managers, foresters, contractors, historians, biologist and anyone concerned with the management and conservation of woodlands as well as those with a general interest. This course is run in memory of Professor Oliver Rackham who led the course for many years at FSC Flatford Mill and whose books will be referenced to during the programme.

A series of illustrated lectures are complemented by field excursions to some of the finest ancient woodlands in Suffolk and Essex along with a visit to Staverton, one of the finest medieval parks in England.

Within reach of Flatford there is a rich variety of ancient woodland. Much of the time will be spent in the field, discussing woods in terms of their history, the effects of past management,their current and future management. During the week we hope to visit Bradfield Woods, Chalkney Wood, Stour Wood, Arger Fen, Big and Common Wood, Dunwich Forest, Lineage Wood, Frithy Wood and Staverton Park. There will be a visit to Suffolk Records Office in Ipswich where estate maps and other documents will be set out. A programme for the week will be available on the first evening. There will be evening lectures to introduce and complement the field excursions.

Tutor: Gary Battell

Gary Battell, Simon Leatherdale and Dr Jonathan Spencer MBE have all made significant contributions to British forestry, woodland and ancient tree management, PAWS restoration, rewilding, resilience and recovery. Gary will be running the course with support provided by Simon and Jonathan as well as local experts at the various sites visited by the course.

Tutor: Simon Leatherdale

Simon Leatherdale worked for the Forestry Commission for 37 years where he made a significant contribution to the PAWS restoration of 15 ancient woodlands in East Anglia and was supported by his friend, Professor Oliver Rackham OBE. Simon has been the owner of Tyler’s Wood for 28 years. Simon has a passion for Maritime woodland which he expects to be researching for another 5 years before the book sees the light of day! Simon describes himself as a generalist. Simon was one of the people who delivered the rewilding at Dunwich that was instigated by Jonathan Spencer.

Tutor: Johnathan Spencer

Dr Jonathan Spencer MBE is Head of Planning & Environment Forest Enterprise, England. Over the past twenty years Jonathan's work has included establishing the extent and character of ancient woodland and forest across the UK, especially in England. A wide range of species conservation actions and species reintroductions. The conservation of rare plants, fungi, insects, birds, reptiles and mammals. Directing the management of designated conservation areas within forests and open habitats across England. The establishment of management regimes for large herbivores, both wild and domestic, in conservation programmes on wood pastures, wetlands and heathlands. Addressing and resolving conflicting policy challenges. Integrating economic opportunity and necessity into environmental and wildlife conservation management. All the tutors have made significant contributions to British forestry, woodland and ancient tree management, PAWS restoration, rewilding, resilience that have brought natural capital and ecosystem service benefits and in doing so they have given support to others and generated enthusiasm!

Bring a friend!

If you are attending a course at Flatford Mill at the sole occupancy price, we are offering a special rate for a friend or partner not enrolled on the course to also stay at £50 per night for dinner, bed and breakfast.

Please contact FSC Flatford Mill on 01206 297110 or [email protected] to book this offer.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Full Board Accommodation
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • In Course Transport
  • Personal and Travel Insurance

Before You Attend

What to Bring


  • Weatherproof clothing and hat
  • Stout shoes or walking boots
  • Wellingtons
  • Umbrella


  • A water bottle
  • Camera/s
  • Binoculars
  • Notebooks and pencils

Please note that a fair amount of brisk walking is involved on this course most days. Please be prepared for this and for some standing in the woods as you listen to discussion points. A shooting stick or equivalent outdoor stool may be useful if you have difficulty standing for long periods