A Life in Ecology: Time to remember and celebrate the life and work of a pioneering ecologist….Oliver Gilbert.
Dr Oliver Gilbert passed away around ten years ago, in May 2005. In an obituary in The Independent, Peter Marren described how ‘Oliver Gilbert was, in his own words, a lichen hunter. His pioneering work on these humble plants as indicators of air pollution and on the lichen flora of remote and unexpected places helped create a healthy climate of field study and exploration for a whole generation of apprentice lichenologists. He was also one of the leading urban ecologists who studied and promoted the hidden wildlife jungle in and around towns and cities.’
Ten years from Ollie’s premature death Dr Paul Ardron and myself, long-term friends and associates, are organising a 2-day event (Sheffield 13th & 14th November 2015) honouring and commemorating a truly global figure in ecology and lichenology. Supported generously by the British Ecological Society and by the British Lichen Society too, we have a remarkable line-up of speakers encompassing Oliver’s many interests and celebrating his contributions to urban ecology, lichenology, exotic plants, and urban and post-industrial landscapes. His work spanned over fifty years, and invited speakers will deliver illustrated lectures on fascinating topics reflecting his many interests from ‘alien’ species, lichens, urban woodlands, and post-industrial flora. He was one of the first academic ecologists to study urban environments, establishing terms like ‘the urban commons’, and his book The Ecology of Urban Habitats is still the primary text in this field. Often controversial and outspoken, he challenged conventional thinking on invasive aliens like sycamore and Japanese knotweed, pioneering academic interest in urban habitats and urban ecology. Ollie ‘discovered’ ancient wildflower meadows and heaths, relict in parks and other urban open spaces, and then helped gain their recognition and conservation. He was also a leading light in establishing what became hugely successful as the Sheffield Wildlife Trust, and undertook the first Inner City Habitat Survey.
This is a cracking line-up of speakers and over the two days, we have speakers to inform and excite amateurs and professionals alike, from students and researchers or teachers, to interested local people. The line-up includes Professor Mark Seaward, Dr Penny Anderson, Professor Nigel Dunnett, Dr Jan Woudstra, Ann Le Sage, Dr Rob Francis, Dr Peter Shaw, Professor Melvyn Jones, Dr Anna Jorgensen, Penny Anderson, Dr Peter Shepherd, Dr John Barnatt, Dr Paul Ardron and Professor Ian Rotherham (me!). There will be a celebratory conference book following the event, and you can even buy, at a special discount, the New Naturalist book Lichens, which Oliver wrote. There will also be copies of his final book, The Lichen Hunters.
For more information and booking forms: check our website: http://www.ukeconet.org/events/ ;
or telephone: 0114 2724227.
We have a limited number of special offer places for students and local people at just £5 per day; so do join us for a very special celebration.