I am very sad to announce the death, following illness, of de Gourét Litchfield at his home in Kärlingeberga in Sweden, with those of his children able to travel in these difficult times at his side. He was 64 years old.
de Gourét was one of the world’s most influential, respected and well-known climbing arborists. He was instrumental in setting up the European Arboricultural Council and in the development of the European Tree Worker Certification scheme. He was President of the International So ciety of Arboriculture from 2015 to 2016. He was also a leading member of the Swedish Arboricultural Association. He was a member of the Arboricultural Association for many years.
de Gourét was an early exponent of the principles of tree care promulgated by Dr Alex Shigo and disseminated these widely whilst working at Lund University in Sweden. As a result, his supervisor suggested that he set up a business so that clients had access to these new methods and thus Svensk Tradvärd (Swedish Tree Care) was born. It rapidly became the largest such undertaking in Scandinavia, not only carrying out contracting and consultancy work, but developing and distributing safety equipment.
de Gourét was an arboricultural innovator, inventing a number of climbing aids, including the two-part work-positioning belt and the cambium saver. Training was an important arm of the business and this contributed to the dissemination of good arboricultural practices through many European countries as trainees and interns visited Svensk Tradvärd.
Svensk Tradvärd regularly exhibited at arboricultural conferences and seminars, and the firm won the Henry Girling Prize for Trade Exhibits at Arboricultural Association conferences on a number of occasions.
de Gourét travelled widely – in this, his fluent Spanish was a considerable help – organising and judging both European and World Tree Climbing Championships for the International Society of Arboriculture. He had a profound recent influence on tree care in Latin America. He was always the consummate gentleman and had a natural, polite manner which endeared him to people; examples can be seen in that the Colombian Society of Arboriculture, on becoming aware of his terminal illness, inaugurated the de Gourét Litchfield Scholarship, and at a recent meeting in Mexico, delegates, again knowing of his illness, wore t-shirts with his name printed on the back – both manifestations of affection were great comforts to him.
de Gourét was fascinated by military vehicles and motorcycles and had a barn full of these – including at times, an armoured personnel carrier and a Pinzgauer all-terrain fire-engine, although time to ride (and service!) them was often a problem. Like all courteous and unassuming men, he had hidden depths and served for some time as a Reserve Special Air Service trooper.
de Gourét leaves two daughters, Linnéa and Nathalie, two sons, Gustav and Gerrard, a brother, Guy, and sister, Bridget.
On a personal note, I have lost a very dear and treasured friend. I am grateful for the time I spent with him – it wasn’t long enough. Arboriculture is poorer without him.
de Gourét Litchfield with one of his beloved BMW bikes, photographed in Sweden in 2004. (John Harraway)
This article was taken form Issue 189 Summer 2020 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.