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How can more children get closer to nature?

posted on November 14, 2018

Three of England’s leading environmental education charities have joined forces to gather much-needed evidence about how schools and educators use wooded areas and forests in England. They want everyone with an interest in bringing children closer to nature to take part in a national survey which will inform practice and policy.

Bringing Children Closer to Nature national survey

Bringing Children Closer to Nature national survey

Enabling children to be closer to nature, especially by learning and exploring in wooded areas and forests, was recognised as a key action in the government’s 25-year Environment Plan, published earlier this year. Yet despite the well-proven benefits of children spending regular time outdoors—including health and wellbeing, attitudes to learning, and environmental awareness—there is poor understanding about the current level of outdoor activities for young people across England, particularly in wooded areas and forests.

The Bringing Children Closer to Nature survey aims to explore barriers and opportunities to activities in wooded areas and forests, including the practice of Forest School, and it will quantify any issues preventing development and growth. Its three main aims are to:

  1. acquire basic information, including the number and distribution of schools and other organisations who do forest education activities including Forest School, and the levels of training and skills among practitioners;
  2. understand more about barriers and opportunities to establishing and sustaining forest education, including Forest School, among host organisations (e.g. schools, early years nurseries) and practitioners, and explore how these could be overcome;
  3. explore potential interest among woodland owners in providing greater access to woodland sites to support forest education, including Forest School.

This national survey forms part of the Forest Schools for All project, a partnership between Sylva Foundation, The Ernest Cook Trust (funder) and The Forest School Association

Chief Executive of Sylva Foundation, Dr Gabriel Hemery, said:

“Efforts to enable, increase, and sustain activities for young people in our woodlands and other outdoor areas across England have been held back by a poor evidence base. This important survey will provide a powerful voice for those with an interest and expertise in bringing children closer to nature. The survey outcomes will help inform delivery, funding opportunities, and policy development and will be freely available.”

Chief Executive of The Ernest Cook Trust, Dr Victoria Edwards, said:

“It’s been invaluable to work alongside experienced professionals at Sylva Foundation and Forest School Association to produce such a targeted research survey. The outcomes will influence decisions on how we work at The Ernest Cook Trust in broadening our reach to inspire young people to learn from the land.

The survey was launched in November 2018 and will remain open until the end of the year. Research outcomes will summarised in a freely-accessible report in early 2019. Those people interested in taking the survey can read more and follow a link to it here: www.sylva.org.uk/survey

click here to take part in the British Woodlands 2012 survey

click here to take part in the survey

Download the press release

ENDS


Notes for Editors

Contacts:

For media enquiries and to arrange interviews please contact Jen Hurst, Head of Forest Education, Sylva Foundation.  jen@sylva.org.uk or 01865 408018

Images:

Images are available to download (reproduction free). Please contact us for further information. All images © Sylva Foundation.

About the partners:

Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity helping trees and people grow together. From its base at the Sylva Wood Centre in Oxfordshire, it works across the UK supporting sustainable forest management with thousands of woodland owners. It works widely in partnership with other organisations in delivering environmental and educational projects, under the themes of science, education, forestry, and wood. www.sylva.org.uk

The Ernest Cook Trust, based in Fairford, Gloucestershire, is one of the UK’s leading educational charities, inspiring young people to achieve better educational and life outcomes by learning from the land and is rooted in the conservation and management of the countryside. It owns and manages more than 8,900 hectares of landed estates across five English counties. ECT actively encourages children and young people to learn from the land through education programmes (including Forest School training) on its own estates, through partnerships with other organisations, and through its grant-giving programme. Each year its Trustees distribute around £2m in dedicated grants to a range of education initiatives. www.ernestcooktrust.org.uk

The Forest School Association is the National professional body for Forest School, running the recognised providers and trainers’ scheme to ensure high quality Forest School. It has more than 2,000 members. www.forestschoolassociation.org


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Give an unusual gift this Christmas and support Sylva

posted on November 15, 2018

If you’re looking for a unique gift for someone special this Christmas, take a look at some unusual offers from Sylva Foundation. Read on to find out about our unique range of courses, an award-winning tree book available signed by the author, and some very special single-edition prints from the book.


Gift a course at the Sylva Wood Centre

Choose from Canoe paddle making, Green wood stool making, Guitar maintenance & repair, Pole lathe working, Saxon building woodwork, Treewrighting and Timber-framing, and Hurdle-Making. Courses will be supported by our brand new Teaching Barn, and overseen by our newly-appointed Head of Wood School.

Via our shop you can also purchase gift vouchers for courses which offer a substantial discount to someone special to use when they book their own course of choice.

See the full range of courses and details


Gift a signed copy of The New Sylva

The New Sylva book

The New Sylva – purchase the book from us and help support the charity

The New Sylva: a discourse of forest and orchard trees for the twenty-first century is a detailed and sumptuous celebration of trees and forests, by authors Gabriel Hemery (our Chief Executive) and Sarah Simblet (former Sylva Artist in Residence). Published by Bloomsbury in 2014, its 400 pages feature more than 100 tree species, accompanied by 200 specially commissioned pen and ink drawings.

Its pages contain not merely descriptions of the appearance of individual species. . . . It is a magisterial work that combines art and history with science. . . . The book is a stimulating read, and beautiful to look at.”
Jack Watkins, The Countryman.

“Gabriel Hemery’s text is a precise, fascinating, fluent, wide-ranging and hard-headed synthesis: an excellent popular introduction to tree biology and forestry. But the book is more than that . . . Hemery is out to celebrate and inspire passion and love . . .”
Caspar Henderson, Resurgence & Ecologist Magazine

  • Books of the Year, 2014. Mail on Sunday.
  • Winner, Trade Illustrated, British Book Design and Production Awards, 2014.
  • Premier Award, International Society of Typographic Designers.

All proceeds of sales via our online shop directly support our charitable work. Copies are signed by Gabriel Hemery, and a personal dedication can be added on request.


Purchase a single-edition print from The New Sylva

Print and certificate from The New Sylva single-edition offer

Print and certificate from The New Sylva single-edition offer

The New Sylva by Gabriel Hemery and Sarah Simblet – published to wide acclaim by Bloomsbury in 2014 – contains 200 stunning pen and ink drawings, including whole-tree portraits, botanical parts and forest scenes. They were drawn by internationally-renowned artist Sarah Simblet while she was artist-in-residence for environmental charity the Sylva Foundation. Just 14 remain available for sale.

Sarah Simblet rarely sells her work as prints. This represents a unique investment and a special opportunity for fans of her stunning drawings. Each print is signed by Sarah Simblet, and accompanied by an attractive Certificate of Authenticity, signed by both authors of The New Sylva.

Visit our online shop to see the available prints.


 

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Courses at the Sylva Wood Centre Spring 2019

posted on November 7, 2018

We’re pleased to release our course programme for Spring 2019.

All courses will be supported by our new dedicated Teaching Barn, and overseen by our newly appointed Head of Wood School, Joe Bray.

Guitar maintenance & repair – with local luthier Steve Kendall

Learn how to perform guitar ‘set-ups’ so that your guitar sounds and plays at its best.

Saturday 26th January 2019, 9:30am – 4:00pm. Cost £100.

book-now

Steve Kendall guitar course

Steve Kendall guitar course

Make a canoe paddle – with award-winning boat builder Colin Henwood

During this two-day course you will learn how to shape a single canoe paddle from Ash using hand tools.

Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd February, 2019, 9.00am to 5.00pm. Cost £225.

book-now

Colin Henwood with students making a canoe paddle at the Sylva Wood Centre

Colin Henwood with students making a canoe paddle at the Sylva Wood Centre

Make a green wood stool – with green woodworker Peter Wood

Working with green wood using simple hand tools, by the end of this two-day course you will make a three-legged stool.

Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th February, 2019, 9:30am – 4:00pm. Cost £225.

book-now

Green stool making course at Sylva Wood Centre

Green stool making course at Sylva Wood Centre

Pole lathe course – with green woodworker Peter Wood

A two-day course to learn how to work with green wood using simple hand tools, and a pole lathe, to create a stool with turned legs.

Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th March, 2019, 9:30am – 4:00pm. Cost £225.

book-now

Greenwood workshop

Pole lathe course

Saxon Building Woodwork, or ‘Treewrighting’ – with Damian Goodburn

Learn about Anglo-Saxon building woodwork, based mainly on the study of surviving wooden remains, including a review of relatively new evidence, with live demonstrations of tools and techniques, and opportunities to watch treewrighting in action. Led by leading archaeological woodwork specialist Damian Goodburn BA PhD.

Saturday 23rd March 2019, 10.00am-4.00pm Cost £75.

book-now

Saxon broad axe work

Saxon broad axe work

Treewighting and timber-framing – with the Carpenters Fellowship – £100

During this unique one day treewrighting course you will learn and develop skills and knowledge in the making of a timber-frame using traditional tools and techniques. Five one-day courses available which can also be booked as a block.

Available on 20th,21st,22nd 23rd & 24th March 2019, 9.00am-5.00pm. Cost £100 per day.

book-now

Carpenters' Fellowship at the Sylva Wood Centre

Carpenters’ Fellowship training at the Sylva Wood Centre

Hurdle making – with coppice worker and craftsman Simon Farndon

Students will be taught hazel splitting and how to make hurdles on the Saturday and then will practise making hurdles on the Sunday.

Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th March 2019, 10.00am-4.00pm. Cost £200.

book-now

Hurdle-making with Simon Farndon

Hurdle-making with Simon Farndon

Make a canoe paddle – with award-winning boat builder Colin Henwood

During this two-day course you will learn how to shape a single canoe paddle from ash using hand tools.

Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th April, 2019, 9.00am to 5.00pm. Cost £225.

book-now

Colin Henwood with students making a canoe paddle at the Sylva Wood Centre

Colin Henwood with students making a canoe paddle at the Sylva Wood Centre

Full terms and conditions available at www.sylva.org.uk/courses


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Course: hurdle-making 23-24 March 2019

posted on November 2, 2018

Learn and practise how to split hazel and make hurdles with coppice worker and craftsman Simon Farndon during this two-day course at the Sylva Wood Centre.

Students will be taught hazel splitting and how to make hurdles on the Saturday and then will practise making hurdles on the Sunday.

Hazel hurdles are a very popular and attractive alternative to garden panels or garden screens and wind breaks. Split (cleft) and round hazel rods are woven around hazel uprights (zales). There are slight variations on design between different regions, but students will learn to make the most robust hurdles using good quality graded split hazel, which is twisted around end posts to produce a very strong and robust hurdle.

The hurdles that students make will be used in the Anglo-Saxon reconstruction of the House of Wessex, to be built over the summer of 2019. If they wish, students on this course will be welcome to volunteer to help with this by making more hurdles later in the year, or by helping fix hurdels to the wall annd roof structure of the building.

By taking part, students will not only help in this exciting volunteer project, but leave with the requisite skills to make their own hurdles at home.

Cost £200. Lunch provided. Maximum of 8 places.

 


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Courses: Treewrighting and timber-framing March 2019

posted on

One-day courses, 20th-24th March 2019

We are pleased to offer five one-day courses in treewrighting and timber-framing, from 20th to 24th March.

House of Wessex timber frame

House of Wessex timber frame

During this one-day course you will learn and develop skills in the making of a timber-frame using traditional tools and techniques. Teaching will be provided by highly experienced craftspeople in the Carpenters’ Fellowship. Learning will include a selection of the following, catering for a wide range of skill and experience :

  • Axe jointing “treewrighting”
  • Cleaving and dressing logs
  • Converting timbers
  • Shaping timbers
  • Carving wooden tree nails
  • Hewing logs by axe

Full training will be provided (no prior experience necessary). Although you will be working undercover, the course will be ‘outdoors’, so you will need to wear appropriate clothing.

Drinks and hot food will be provided, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight camping (bring your own tent) may be available on the site, or locally. More details will follow your booking.

A programme of evening events will also be on offer, including a range of talks on relevant craft and history, and social events.

You may book for more than one day. Please note that the activities will be physically demanding, so please take this into account before you sign up to all five days!

Carpenters Fellowship

 

Date

 

Book here

 

Wednesday, 20th March 2019 book-now
Thursday, 21st March 2019 book-now
Friday, 22nd March 2019 book-now
Saturday, 23rd March 2019 book-now
Sunday, 24th March 2019 book-now

 

 


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Course: Make a Canoe Paddle April 2019

posted on October 31, 2018

Make a canoe paddle

Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th April 2019

9.00am to 5.00pm

During this two-day course with award-winning boat builder Colin Henwood, you will learn how to shape a single canoe paddle from Ash using hand tools.

“I can’t think of anything that could have improved a perfect couple of days – I will signing up for another one soon.”
Student on Paddle making course, January 2018.

Colin was fantastic; his attention to detail and support ensured we all left with a paddle I think even he was happy with!
Student on Paddle making course, January 2018.

Make your own canoe paddle at the Wood Centre

Make your own canoe paddle at the Wood Centre

  • Working with ash – our superior native hardwood.
  • Using traditional skills and tools you will produce a complex shape with hand and eye.
  • Learn how to finish your smooth and elegant design.
  • Take home a unique and usable canoe paddle ready for a varnish or an oil finish.
  • Tools and materials included (if you wish to bring your own tools please discuss this with the tutor).

Cost: £225 per person (materials included)

Venue: Our new purpose-built Education Barn at the Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor: Colin Henwood

book-now

Book your place

 


About the tutor

Colin Henwood founded his boatyard, Henwood and Dean Boatbuilders, in 1982 specialising in restoring and building wooden Thames launches. The boatyard received many awards in the UK and abroad, and in 2014 Colin was awarded Maker of the Year by the Heritage Crafts Association. In October 2016 Colin handed the boatyard over to two of his team who are successfully continuing the tradition he began 35 years ago. Not one to retire, Colin has established a workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre where he is currently re-building a 1920 Thames motor canoe.

Colin Henwood with students making a canoe paddle at the Sylva Wood Centre

Colin Henwood with students making a canoe paddle at the Sylva Wood Centre

Paddle course_Jun2018

Paddle course at the Sylva Wood Centre, Jun2018


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Course: Make a Canoe Paddle February 2019

posted on

Make a canoe paddle

Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd February 2019

9.00am to 5.00pm

During this two-day course with award-winning boat builder Colin Henwood, you will learn how to shape a single canoe paddle from Ash using hand tools.

“I can’t think of anything that could have improved a perfect couple of days – I will signing up for another one soon.”
Student on Paddle making course, January 2018.

Colin was fantastic; his attention to detail and support ensured we all left with a paddle I think even he was happy with!
Student on Paddle making course, January 2018.

Make your own canoe paddle at the Wood Centre

Make your own canoe paddle at the Wood Centre

  • Working with ash – our superior native hardwood.
  • Using traditional skills and tools you will produce a complex shape with hand and eye.
  • Learn how to finish your smooth and elegant design.
  • Take home a unique and usable canoe paddle ready for a varnish or an oil finish.
  • Tools and materials included (if you wish to bring your own tools please discuss this with the tutor).

Cost: £225 per person (materials included)

Venue: Our new purpose-built Education Barn at the Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor: Colin Henwood

book-now

Book your place

 


About the tutor

Colin Henwood founded his boatyard, Henwood and Dean Boatbuilders, in 1982 specialising in restoring and building wooden Thames launches. The boatyard received many awards in the UK and abroad, and in 2014 Colin was awarded Maker of the Year by the Heritage Crafts Association. In October 2016 Colin handed the boatyard over to two of his team who are successfully continuing the tradition he began 35 years ago. Not one to retire, Colin has established a workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre where he is currently re-building a 1920 Thames motor canoe.

Colin Henwood with students making a canoe paddle at the Sylva Wood Centre

Colin Henwood with students making a canoe paddle at the Sylva Wood Centre

Paddle course_Jun2018

Paddle course at the Sylva Wood Centre, Jun2018


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Course: Saxon Building Woodwork, or ‘Treewrighting’

posted on October 10, 2018

Saxon Building Woodwork, or ‘Treewrighting’

10am-4pm, Saturday 23rd March 2019

Led by Damian Goodburn BA PhD, a leading archaeological woodwork specialist, this workshop will be held in our new purpose-built Education Barn at the Sylva Wood Centre.

Saxon broad axe work

Saxon broad axe work. Damian Goodburn demonstrating.

Learn about Anglo-Saxon building woodwork, based mainly on the study of surviving wooden remains, including a review of relatively new evidence, with live demonstrations of tools and techniques, and opportunities to watch treewrighting in action.

Morning activities will include illustrated talks covering the themes below, starting with evidence for how woodland resources were managed. Samples of books and publications will be discussed, including many rare items.

  1. The variation in woodland materials from ‘wildwood’ to intensive coppiced woodland.
  2. An overview of the range of waterlogged building woodwork remains found in Saxon and Saxo-Norman period England c.500-1180 AD when ‘carpentry’ and formal ‘timber-framing’ arrived from France.
  3. Evidence for basic techniques carried out without saws, including felling, bucking, radial, tangential cleaving, hewing various shaped timbers, styles of wattlework.
  4. Evidence for the range of joints and fastenings used, taps and locks, tusk tenons, laft joints, tongue and groove, scarfs, treenails and rove nails.
  5. Tool marks and tool kits, narrow axes, broad axes, ‘groping irons’.
  6. Evidence for ‘built-in’ furniture and fittings such as beds, benches, hearths, storage bins, and coops, doors and windows.
  7. Relevant ethnographic evidence from later timber buildings in the ‘Homelands’ areas on the east side of the North Sea, less influenced by French-style timber-framed carpentry, and how that can be used to extend archaeological evidence from England.

Afternoon activity will involve handling real samples of Saxon woodwork, and high-quality replica tools and fastenings.

Throughout the day demonstrations will be used to illustrate some basic techniques essential to treewrighting, including cleaving a small straight green log (oak or ash c. 150-200mm diam by 1.8-2m long) using wooden wedges, hewing with a narrow-bladed and broad-bladed ‘T’ axe, simple Saxon joint cutting, and willow treenail (wythenails) making.

While the course is underway, delegates will be able to to witness a range of related treewrighting activities nearby, thanks to members of the Carpenters’ Fellowship working on the frame of the House of Wessex.

Cost £75.00. Lunch provided. 20 places maximum. Safety boots essential.

book-now

Book your place


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Become a Patron of the House of Wessex

posted on October 9, 2018

The House of Wessex is a unique reconstruction of an Anglo-Saxon house of significant importance in English history. The faithful reconstruction of the building, working with dozens of volunteers, and an associated programme of learning, is part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Sylva Foundation needs help to raise funds to realise the project’s full potential, and establish a legacy fund.

House of Wessex banner

House of Wessex banner

BRONZE  *  £250

Your donation will help us create and manage a unique historical reconstructed building — thank you.

  • We will write to you personally to thank you, recognising your significant contribution.
  • A personalised certificate recognising your contribution.
  • Your name will be appear in an online Patrons Board.

SILVER  * £500

Your support will mean we can build a better future for the House of Wessex, and our education programme.

Everything in BRONZE, plus . . .

  • Your name will be displayed in the building on a Patrons Board.
  • An invitation to a unique evening of Anglo-Saxon activities.

GOLD  *  £1,000

In recognition of your significant support, we offer some very special perks.

Everything in BRONZE and SILVER, plus . . .

  • Your name hand-carved in a beam or post. You can even learn to carve some of your own letters with a master craftsperson.
  • Invitation to a VIP opening of the building in autumn 2019.
  • Limited edition print of the building and reconstructed scene by a leading archaeological reconstruction artist.

 

Every pound we raise will go directly to the House of Wessex project. Thank you.

 

Find out more and pledge your support via Charity Checkout

Find out more and pledge your support via Charity Checkout

If you would prefer to talk with someone in the Sylva team, please call 01865 408018.

 


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Timber secured from Blenheim Estates

posted on October 8, 2018

We had a fantastic day recently on Bladon Heath, in the woodlands on Blenheim Estate, carefully selecting the timber for the training courses this weekend, plus marking out timber for the next year’s reconstruction of the House of Wessex. 

We have chosen a variety of species, 40 trees in total, a mix of ash , sweet chestnut, oak and silver birch. The oak and sweet chestnut are of similar age, around 100yrs and 70 ft in height. The ash are younger at 40 -50 yrs, and again 70ft. The birch are younger at 25yrs and are 50ft.

The trees required for the event on 13-14 October (read more) have been felled and delivered to the Wood Centre. The timber will be used for the formal training course and for the general public to see Anglo-Saxon techniques in action such as hewing, cleaving and making treenails. The work will help prototype some of the techniques to be used in next year’s reconstruction of the House of Wessex.

Many thanks to John, Henry, and Joe from Carpenters’ Fellowship for their time selecting the trees, and Nick Baimbridge and his forestry team of Blenheim Estates for felling and preparing the timber.

Read more about the House of Wessex


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