It is with great sadness that after a short illness we have to tell you that the founder of this company Mr Joe Watson, 88 has passed away.
Joe Watson was born in West Yorkshire and after Batley Grammar School and National Service, (where, coincidentally, he was stationed for a time in the beautiful Bathurst Park in Cirencester), he studied Botany at Imperial College London.
In 1951 he went on to study Forestry at Merton College, Oxford, where he met his wife Sally, joining the Colonial Forest Service, Malaya (now Malaysia) the following year. As Forest Officer, part of his work was to establish forest writing plans for virgin territory in the state of Pahang, which involved the supervision of staff and movement of forest produce. He was popular with the workforce because he was prepared to travel through the jungle to visit them rather than expect them to make the trek back to the office. He spent two years surveying and recording 50,000 acres near Rompin, data which he hoped would be of use for generations to come.
In 1960 he returned to Britain with his wife and children, and joined Woodland Management Association and became a Forestry Consultant in charge of Gloucestershire and parts of the surrounding counties. After 5 years he decided to set up his own business and founded Cotswold Estate Services Ltd, which carried out landscaping and all aspects of Forestry and Farming. He was responsible for planting many woodlands and went on to devise the Temperate Taungya method based on his experiences in Malaya. This involved establishing woodlands by under-sowing arable crops with tree seeds. Tree seeding becoming a practice that became of interest to the Forestry Commission. The results of his trial plots planted in the 1980’s can be seen as far a field as Somerset and Sussex.
During the 80′s and 90′s he became increasingly concerned about the direction Forestry was taking. Many Universities and Colleges stopped running courses in Horticulture, Botany and Forestry. He saw this as a huge danger for the industry and the environment especially combined with the new emphasis on amenity and the introduction of Tuley Tubes along with 3 metre spacing and failure to take account of geology and flood impact. He started on a long campaign to re-educate people about the need for good quality sustainable timber which he believed could only be achieved by high stocking levels and working with nature. His letters and articles never stopped coming. Thankfully he lived long enough to see some of what he advocated return as best practice, and although a recent study suggests that some forms of Tuley Tubes do provide benefits to individual trees, they do not make up for the loss of nearly two cycles of thinnings and the multiple benefits of the genetic diversity of planting greater numbers of trees naturally and closer together.
Joe was Chairman of the Gloucestershire branch of the R.F.S. for two years, a fellow of the Institute of Foresters, member of the Association of Professional Foresters, the Timber Growers Organisation (now ConFor) and the Commonwealth Forestry Association. The Environment and sustainable Forestry have lost one of their greatest champions, but if even one more person reads Forest, Woods and Trees in relation to Hygiene by Augustine Henry or the Forestry Commission Pamphlet on Forest Practice dated 1951 as a result of this obituary, then his work continues.
Mr Joe Watson junior will continue to run the company Cotswold estates and gardens in his father’s memory.