Our Vision

mature oak growing in the Kingston Hill woodland

At Sylva Foundation we envisage a wood culture where people understand and promote the good stewardship of woodlands and are mindful of their utility, while being conscious of their fragility.

Future society will recognise the creative and productive value of forest products which can be derived from growing well-managed forests, and at the same time enhance their wider benefits for people and for nature. This will help result in a halt in the loss of biodiversity, a reduction in climate change, and a human society that can sustain itself.

Our actions today will be tangible in the love and respect that future generations afford our trees and forests.

Learn more about our work or how you can get involved

Our mission at Sylva Foundation

To use our forestry knowledge and information technology skills, supported by state-of-art evidence, to provide innovative solutions to some of the greatest environmental challenges facing modern society.

To work extensively and selflessly with others, recognising that collaboration is necessary to overcome the challenges of halting biodiversity loss and reducing climate change, while supporting the transition to a sustainable human society.

To deliver the training and education necessary to support the transformation of society, focussing on the stewardship of our forests and the utility of home-grown timber.

To undertake advocacy to inspire one another, raise awareness, and endow people with knowledge, passion, and the shared ambition for a better and more sustainable society.

Sylva Foundation Reports

Sylva Foundation Annual Reports

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Our History

Sylva is an old English word from the Latin silva, meaning a wood, forest, or woodland.

During the reign of Charles II in 1662, John Evelyn was asked by the Royal Society to draw attention to the damage done to England’s wooded estates during the English Interregnum and to encourage reforestation. The resulting paper was entitled: Sylva or a discourse on forest trees and the propagation of timber in His Majesty’s dominions. This led to the publication of his famous book with the same title in 1664, which ran to four editions during his lifetime, and many more afterwards.

The New Sylva authors and Sir Martin Wood

In 2006, Sir Martin Wood and Dr Gabriel Hemery founded a project seeking to review the status of Forestry in the UK: Forestry Horizons. The project was founded on the simple beliefs that trees are important, that we should look after them better, and have more of them.

From that work, the idea for a new charity dedicated to reviving Britain’s wood culture was born, which we defined as “the stewardship of woodland and the use of forest produce for a sustainable future.” Sylva Foundation was founded in March 2009.

Martin’s friendship and leadership transformed my life, professionally and personally, and consequently the lives of the entire Sylva team, the thousands of people we work with, and the tens of thousands of hectares of woodland we help care for across Britain. On my office wall hangs a framed note from Martin that I found waiting on my desk on the first day we started working on the idea of founding a new charity: ‘Greetings, a great day – we’re going to change the face of forestry in the British Isles!’ In a few words, this perfectly captures Martin’s unparalleled vision, philanthropy, and humanity.

Gabriel Hemery, CEO Sylva Foundation
Martin & Audrey Wood

Staff and Associates

Sylva Team

Sylva Associates

Our Impact

We are still a small charity. Yet, through our strong reputation for our knowledge base, and our innovative work that brings people and organisations together – we make things happen…

Sarah Taylor, Chair of Sylva Foundation Trustees

Sylva Foundation Impact Reports

Sylva Foundation continues to influence both policy and practice to support sustainable development across the length and breadth of Britain. 

Sylva Foundation Impact Report 2022 - the year in numbers

Find out how our main initiatives are making an impact today

Never before have we faced a global challenge to conserve life itself. We must work together to reduce the impacts of the climate crisis, develop and support a transformation into a sustainable society, and halt the loss of biodiversity. We believe Sylva Foundation is already playing a significant part. We hope that you will support us to make our positive impact even greater.

Gabriel Hemery, CEO Sylva Foundation

Sylva Foundation as a Charitable Trust

Sylva Foundation is a charity registered in England and Wales 1128516 and in Scotland SC041892.

Sylva Foundation charitable objects are to promote the conservation of the environment for the public benefit consistent with sustainable development principles by:

  1. promoting and conducting research for the public benefit about effective sustainable forest management and the dissemination of the useful results of such research;
  2. advancing education for the public benefit in the theory and practice of sustainable forest management;
  3. supporting the development and application of sustainable forest management for the public benefit;
  4. advancing education and business enterprise in the design and production of home-grown wood products for the public benefit.
Joan Webber discusses Chalara fraxinea in a Norfolk woodland

Sylva’s Trustees

Sylva Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees. They are responsible for the overall strategic direction and oversight of the charity, ensuring regulatory compliance, monitoring and evaluating risks, and approval of the annual budget and audited accounts.

Dr Robin Buxton

Dr Robin Buxton

Robin Buxton’s career has focussed on building effective organisations and networks to strengthen nature conservation in the UK. He has…

Lucius Cary

Lucius Cary

Lucius is the founder and managing director of Oxford Technology Management Ltd, which has specialised in making and managing investments…

Dr James Morison

Dr James Morison

James Morison is a forest environmental scientist, leading research on understanding the impacts of, and the response to climate change…

Jim Waterson

Jim Waterson

After a degree at Wye College, University of London, Jim worked in New Zealand before returning to the UK to…

Sylva Foundation is at the heart of a community that encourages the use of home-grown wood by supporting and demonstrating skills, enterprise, collaboration and innovation.



myForest is a flagship project for the Sylva Foundation. Our mission is to use our forestry knowledge and information technology skills, supported by state-of-art evidence, to provide innovative solutions to some of the greatest environmental challenges facing modern society.

Free to all users, myForest is bringing the latest technology to the forestry sector. Whether a small woodland owner, or land agent companies, myForest provides comprehensive online mapping, digital tools and the latest resources not only to sustainably manage forests, but to provide unique support for the creation of new forests around Britain.

woodland advice
Woodland habitat around the stream

In Britain there is an estimated 700,000ha of under-managed woodlands. This has a big impact on our ability to create resilient woodlands, thriving habitats and healthy spaces for people, whilst overcoming threats from climate change, and a growing number of pests and pathogens. 

As one of Europe’s least forested countries, the UK needs to fulfil its potential in providing a meaningful contribution towards the country’s timber needs.

myForest has made both management planning and the coordination of our clients and work so much simpler. All the information and resources are in one place, the process is intuitive and straightforward. When we submitted the first management plan using myForest our local woodland officer said it was one of the best plans he had received.

Tim Selman, Managing Director, Wyre Community Land Trust

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NatureBid is an online funding platform offering the latest mapping and auction tools to reduce administration costs for investors in the environment.

NatureBid works collaboratively with funders and engagement partners to ensure a funding platform that best supports everyone’s needs. 

NatureBid is flexible and can support different approaches including reverse auctions, single shot auctions, collaborative working across landscapes, or used simply as a powerful engagement tool to allow landowners to propose projects on their land.

Funding is needed to support interventions to help with the biodiversity and climate emergencies. NatureBid has already provided a solution to allow funders to deliver environmental improvements across the country in an innovative and cost effective way.  

Sylva Foundation added the Woodland Carbon Guarantee to the NatureBid platform in 2019, and have worked successfully with the Forestry Commission since then to deliver four auctions, with more planned. The NatureBid platform is really user-friendly, supported by clear guidance including a video guide, making it easy for applicants to register and take part in the auction.
Sylva Foundation has been great to work with, they are solution focused and always deliver high quality outputs on time and within budget.

Samantha Neck, Forestry Commission

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The Sylva Wood School

Sylva Wood School

Sylva Wood School is bridging the gap between education and practice, and promoting the value of home-grown timber

Sylva Wood School provides an innovative new approach to design and skilled craft in home-grown timber through collaborations with educational institutions, non-profit organisations and commercial partners. 

See the impact of the Wood School

By providing inspiring experiences for students, and innovative opportunities for collaborating partners, the Wood School is highlighting the importance of using home-grown timber and the value of reviving Britain’s wood culture.

Based in the Sylva Wood Centre in South Oxfordshire, the Wood School provides access to a multi-purpose teaching barn and a large workshop with industrial-quality machinery. This allows students, not only to experience working with wood in a stimulating learning environment, but to achieve a professional standard of practice.

Wood School Short Courses:

By providing a programme of accessible short courses covering a wide range of topics and skills, the Wood School is creating inspiring and accessible opportunities to experience working with home-grown timber.

Wood School Courses

Summer School

Summer School

The Summer School is for those who have an interest in wood as a material, and see forests and woodlands as a place for learning and growing.

Professional Course

Professional Course

The vision for our Professional course is to sensitively combine education and business to create a sheltered workshop experience. Participants will learn in a professionally-equipped workshop by producing commercial projects. Learning will focus on repetition through low volume production rather than working on bespoke projects.

Introductory Courses

Introductory Courses

The vision for this programme is to introduce participants to a range of furniture making skills and experiences in a professional workshop. Essential health and safety training is delivered in hand tools, power tools and woodworking machinery. Training will be delivered in small groups by demonstration with the opportunity to practice skills through project work.

Short Courses

Short Courses

We provide a growing range of short courses suitable for all ages and skill levels: Maker sessions enable course participants to learn new skills and take away a beautiful object; Woodwork sessions are designed to hone your skills and techniques; Courses for young people have been developed to inspire and create a great experience.

The space and the equipment here – you can’t compare it to anywhere else, it’s just excellent. The fact the course is centred around machining skills, which sets it apart from others. Although you do hand tools work, the machining skills is what people in industry want, and is a bit more realistic. Also Joe is an excellent teacher, just the way he teaches really shows his experience…

Fergus Hooper – Sylva Wood School Fellow 2022

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The Sylva Wood Centre

The Sylva Wood Centre is a 12 hectare site in South Oxfordshire, and is firmly rooted in the local community. We have a community of Wood Centre businesses, the Sylva Wood School, the Future Forest, including a Forest School site, and the House of Wessex.

The Sylva Wood Centre provides the base for advocacy and collaboration

Business Incubation

We provide facilities to support business incubation, including start-up units, shared workspaces, and hot-benching facilities.

Business Hub

Our hub is for small businesses and craftspeople who design, innovate or make in wood. Businesses range from furniture making and outdoor structures, to boat-building and upholstery. There is also a small-scale timber yard on the site.

Teaching Barn

Our well-equipped teaching venue is providing the opportunities to deliver excellence in education and business enterprise.

Find a business at Sylva Wood Centre

The Sylva Wood Centre is an innovative place helping to make big change happen

Circular Economy on Site

Practical Expertise Leading to Innovative Solutions

Turning our Theories into Practice

Other Initiatives at the Sylva Wood Centre

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