Dr Simon Bell is a forester-turned-landscape architect. He is interested in aspects of the wider landscape, such as forests, rural and wild landscapes as well as the peri-urban zone. This includes planning and design aspects, forest landscape aesthetics, urban forestry, outdoor recreation and the health benefits of exposure to nature in such areas. Accessibility by people from a range of backgrounds to such landscapes has also been a feature of his research and practice. He is a part-time Associate director of the OPENspace Research Centre within ESALA.
Simon was educated at The University of Wales, Bangor (now Bangor University), the University of Edinburgh and took his doctorate at the Estonian University of Life Sciences where he is also Professor and Head of the Department of Landscape Architecture. He also carries out consultancy work, mainly designing forests for private and NGO clients and has recently prepared guidance material on forest landscape design for the Forestry Commission.
Before academia Simon worked for 20 years for the Forestry Commission, ending his time there as Chief Landscape Architect. He has worked all over the UK and also extensively in Canada and the US as well as Ireland, Finland, the Baltic States and Russia. His recent practice includes working on the regeneration of the Caledonian Forest in Glenfeshie for Glenfeshie Estate in the Cairngorms National Park and designing extensive new forests such as Victory wood in Kent, Heartwood Forest in Hertfordshire, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Wood in Leicestershire and the First World War commemorative woodland in Surrey all for the Woodland Trust. His latest work, also for the Woodland Trust, is a native tree arboretum located in Heartwood Forest and work on the landscape aspects of a forest plan for Invercauld Estate on Deeside in the Cairngorms National Park.
Simon’s recent research interests have focused on issues arising in the changing landscapes of post-Communist Eastern Europe, especially the Baltic States and Poland. Recent projects include a Cost Action on Urban Allotment Gardening and now work on the relationship of water environments on health and wellbeing.
He is a Professor in the Latvia University of Agriculture as well as having been Visiting Professor in 2013 at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences. Recently he became a visiting professor at Harbin Institute of Technology in Harbin, China and he will be presenting a course on landscape theory.
Simon has published many books and papers. Several of his textbooks are standard course material in landscape architecture research programmes around the world and some have been translated into Chinese and Farsi.
Simon teaches about landscape planning and design in ESALA and supervises a number of master and PhD students here and in Estonia. Hi is co-director of the new MSc in Landscape and Wellbeing. He is on the board of the academic journals Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, Ecological Indicators and Journal of Recreation and Tourism.
In 2012 Simon was elected President of the European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools (ECLAS). This body represents the interest of landscape architecture educators and researchers, holds a prestigious annual conference, presents awards for teaching and research and owns the Journal of Landscape Architecture.