Devotion to woodland research earns a medal

Dr Keith Kirby has 40 years of experience in the field

Dr Keith Kirby has 40 years of experience in the field

First published in News

THE TREES he roams in Wytham Woods near Oxford are known the world over among ecologists.

But the ‘oracle of woodlands’, Keith Kirby, pictured, is a much more humble figure.

The scientist, woodland ecologist and researcher at Oxford University has been given an award for his lifetime’s achievements, from the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environment Management (CIEEM).

The CIEEM Medal is in recognition of Mr Kirby’s “outstanding, lifelong contribution to the advancement of ecology, forestry and woodland management”, the organisation said.

But Mr Kirby, who lives in North Oxford, said his 40 years of experience in the field would seem like no time at all to some of the trees he studies.

The 62-year-old said: “It’s a great honour to accept the award but I’m also using it as an opportunity to reflect on those who helped me to get here.”

Dr Kirby has worked “on and off” at Wytham Woods, maintained by Oxford University, since 1974 and said the site had been important in his research.

He has also worked for the government conservation service, the Nature Conservancy Council and its successors, English Nature and Natural England, since 1979.

He said: “One thing you have to remember is that although I’ve been working in woods for 40 years, that is nothing to an oak tree. While I’ve probably aged quite a lot in that time, they barely look any different at all. You can’t take a short-term view with woodland, you have to be thinking 200 years ahead.”

He also said the ecologists of today may face even tougher challenges than his generation.

Dr Kirby added: “When I first started, commercial forestry was the biggest threat to habitat destruction, but that was something that changes in national policy could affect. Issues such as climate change and the ash dieback disease are much harder to control and cannot be resolved easily.”

Our top stories:

‘Missing’ school leavers show big rise, county figures reveal

Oxford Mail:

6:30am Saturday 28th February 2015

THE Government has lost track of where 30 per cent of state school and college students in Oxfordshire are going when they leave, new data has revealed.

Looking for some fresh ideas to redevelop West Way shops

Oxford Mail:

6:00am Saturday 28th February 2015

DISCUSSIONS are now under way to come up with fresh ideas for the future of Botley’s West Way shopping centre.

One lane closed southbound on M40 near Bicester after crash

Oxford Mail: Lorry jackknifes on M40 causing traffic tailbacks

1:38pm Friday 27th February 2015

ONE lane of the M40 southbound has closed after an accident.

I have no hard feelings against Oxford United, says former U's boss Gary Waddock

Oxford Mail:

11:00am Friday 27th February 2015

GARY Waddock says he feels no bitterness towards Oxford United as he prepares to face the club for the first time since being sacked last summer.

Banbury-born Gary Glitter jailed for 16 years for abusing schoolgirls

Oxford Mail:

11:57am Friday 27th February 2015

Gary Glitter has been jailed for 16 years for a string of historic sex attacks on three schoolgirls.

U-turn as leader says decision to axe council chief ‘hasty’

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Friday 27th February 2015

THE decision to axe the top job at Oxfordshire County Council will be reviewed after its leader admitted he rushed it through.

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree