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Creating a marketplace for ecosystem services

posted on March 7, 2019

Over the last five years Sylva Foundation has been collaborating with departments at the University of Oxford to create a marketplace for ecosystem services. The Naturetrade project was funded by the EU’s Life programme. The project has now come to a close and the project consortium is keen to hear from current and potential users about the online marketplace. Please read on to find out more and how to take the survey.

Naturetrade homepage

Naturetrade homepage

We are now ready to test it on a wider audience of land managers and businesses with an interest in supporting sustainability. Your feedback on the mapping tool will be of help to us in developing ideas to take this forward from a demonstration project to a useable tool that will help supplement finance schemes aimed at preventing the loss of ecologically-diverse land in Europe.
We have prepared a very short survey that is split into two parts: (a) questions to establish what your relationship to land management in Europe is; and (b) feedback on the tool. We invite you to test the mapping capability of NaturEtrade and its potential to assess the ecosystem services of your land, or to test the possibility of finding land on the system that you can sponsor via a contract for maintaining ecosystem services. Two small caveats: we demonstrate how money can be exchanged via contracts to maintain ecosystem services, but no monetary transactions are being processed during this demonstration phase; and land parcels already published on the demonstration site are either taken directly from the UK Land Registry or have been hand-drawn in workshops. We do not own these properties.

Take part in the survey


Read more about Naturetrade

NaturEtrade is web-based mapping tool that demonstrates a novel approach to the problem of supporting environmentally-sensitive land stewardship practices in Europe. Land managers can easily and rapidly assess the ecosystem services provided by their land, and then “trade” these services in contracts with businesses who have an interest in supporting sustainable land management.

Land managers are very familiar with Government grants that help them conserve important biological and cultural features of their land, but very little is known about how non-Government incentive schemes might work in practice. This innovative project demonstrates how landowners and businesses in European countries can utilise the tools and technologies we have developed to trade in the commodity ‘ecosystem services’. In our project, the term ‘trade’ may be understood to mean ‘sponsor’ as no property changes hands, but a commitment to maintain the ecosystem services of land registered on NaturEtrade is set up by mutual agreement between two parties.

Working with stakeholders in four different European countries over the last five years, the project has developed a set of tools and technologies that bridges the gap between academic research and policy on ecosystem service provision. The project has been funded by the EU’s LIFE+ programme.

www.naturetrade.ox.ac.uk


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Managing Woodland for Wildlife course – 26th March

posted on February 28, 2019

Tuesday, 26th March 2019, 1030-1530

Teaching Barn, Sylva Wood Centre

Learn how to manage your woodland for wildlife.

Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

The day will include:

  •  General background on wildlife associated with your woodland
  • How to manage your woodland to encourage wildlife
  • How to deal with potential conflicting needs between species
  • Using the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit
  • Use the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit to create an action plan for your woodland.
  • Walk through a local woodland assessing its value for wildlife

There will also be an opportunity to have a tour of the Sylva Wood Centre and hear more about the Making Local Woods Work project.

book-now

book-now

Cost:                    FREE –  18 places.  Book here

Venue:                 Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor:                   Nigel Symes (RSPB) and Paul Orsi (Sylva Foundation)

Bring:                   Laptop (if possible) for practical session. Boots/waterproofs for woodland walk.

Making Local Woods Work

Funded by Making Local Woods Work

 

 


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Forestry Skills Plan published

posted on February 12, 2019

The Forestry Skills Forum has produced a five-year plan to promote education, skills, learning and development across the forestry sector in England and Wales, while maintaining close links with the equivalent group in Scotland.

The Forestry Skills Plan identified four key themes for action:

  1. talent attraction
  2. employer support
  3. education provision
  4. skills and technical knowledge.
Forestry Skills Plan 2019

Forestry Skills Plan 2019 – click to download

Each theme has several work strands. The plan takes each theme in turn and develops their work strands into action plans.

Sylva Foundation’s Head of Forest Education, Jen Hurst, who currently chairs the Forest Education Network for England, commented:

“The Forestry Skills Action Plan is the successful result of research, collaboration and partnership between many forestry skills and forest education organisations in England. England’s forestry sector urgently needs more people all ages and backgrounds to choose a rewarding and exciting career pathway in our woodlands and forests; this action plan identifies clearly how this will be done.”

The plan is owned by the Forestry Skills Forum, and delivered by the Forum members. It is hosted on the website of the Royal Forestry Society.

About the Forestry Skills Forum

The Forestry Skills Forum is dedicated to promoting education, skills, learning and development across the forestry sector in England and Wales, and maintains close links with the equivalent group in Scotland. Members comprise the sector’s leading authorities, charities, companies, educational institutions and training providers. They represent all areas of the sector, including employers, trade associations, education providers, funders, research centres, and include specialists in all age groups: early years, primary, secondary, further and higher education. The FSF is an independent group, supported by Forestry Commission England.

Category: EDUCATION
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Timber-framing and Raising courses July 2019

posted on February 4, 2019

We are running a series of one-day timber-framing and raising courses at the Sylva Wood Centre, run by the Carpenters’ Fellowship. Come and learn jointing, framing-up, hand-rearing roof trusses, and fitting purlins and ridge pieces using traditional tools and techniques.

House of Wessex timber frame

House of Wessex timber frame

During this unique timber-framing and raising course you will develop skills and knowledge in the making and raising of a timber-frame using traditional tools and techniques.

You will be working alongside highly-skilled craftspeople, helping to make and raise the timber frame of the House of Wessex during the course. Each one-day course is one of five courses being run between 3rd and 7th July. You may book on more than one day by simply registering separately for each day. Please note that the work will be physically demanding, so please take this into account before booking multiple days!

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 :

  • Completing treewrighting on parts of the timber frame
  • Fitting of wall plates onto posts which will be set into the ground
  • Jointing and framing-up the roof trusses
  • Hand-rearing the roof trusses
  • Fitting pulins and ridge pieces
Treewrighting and timber framing

Treewrighting and timber framing

At the conclusion of the five days, the frame will be complete and ready for fixing of wattle hurdles on the roof, and other stages of construction including thatching (also offered as a course).

Full training will be provided (no prior experience necessary). The course will be outdoors in all weathers, so you will need to wear appropriate clothing (sun and rain).

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.

In addition, a programme of evening events (i.e. beyond the end of the formal course) will take place across the five days (3-7 July). The exact nature of these on any particular day will vary, but may include a range of talks on relevant craft and history, and social events.

 

Date

 

Book here

 

Wednesday, 3rd July 2019 book-now
Thursday, 4th July 2019 book-now
Friday, 5th July 2019 book-now
Saturday, 6th July 2019 book-now
Sunday, 7th July 2019 book-now

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Woodland Wildlife Toolkit launched

posted on January 29, 2019

Today sees the launch of a new online toolkit that provides advice on managing woodlands for wildlife, in particular rare and declining species that are dependent on woodland habitats. The Woodland Wildlife Toolkit is aimed at anyone who owns or manages a woodland, or advises others about woodland management.

The Woodland Wildlife Toolkit contains three main tools:

  1. Search your wood’s wildlife to help you:
    • Find out which important wildlife is likely to be in or near your woodland based on available survey or distribution data
    • Understand the habitats and features that these species need
    • Provide these habitats through practical woodland management
  2. Assess your wood’s condition to get an overview of the condition of your wood’s habitats and identify any issues you may need to address.
  3. Woodland guidance for practical advice on management techniques, information on woodland management issues and legal considerations. A series of species factsheets provides summary information for all the species in the toolkit.
Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

Data behind the toolkit has been sourced from a wide number of sources which are detailed on the website. Examples include data from the Bat Conservation Trust, British Trust for Ornithology, Butterfly Conservation, Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, British Lichen Society, British Mycological Society, Fungus Conservation Trust, People’s Trust for Endangered Species, and the National Biodiversity Network.

Paul Orsi, Director of Operations for Sylva Foundations, said:

We were delighted to be asked to develop the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit by the partnership behind the project. At the heart of good woodland stewardship is a woodland management plan, backed by information about the wildlife it contains. This is why we have also enabled a shared login between the toolkit and our myForest platform which supports management planning.

Helen Booker, Acting SW England Conservation Manager (who leads the project for RSPB), said:

Much of our wildlife that relies on woodland is in decline. This new, innovative toolkit offers locally focussed guidance to woodland owners and managers to help them cater for the needs of this wildlife. We hope it will become the go-to tool for woodland wildlife advice.

The toolkit is being launched today at a special event hosted by the National Forest, during which presentations were delivered by senior staff from many of its supporters.

The Woodland Wildlife Toolkit has been supported and developed by: Bat Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Forestry Commission, Natural England, Plantlife, RSPB, Sylva Foundation and Woodland Trust.

Visit the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit: www.woodlandwildlifetoolkit.org.uk


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Traditional thatching courses

posted on January 28, 2019

Learn about traditional and sustainable early thatching methods, including those to be used on the live reconstruction of the Anglo-Saxon, House of Wessex. 

10th-14th August 2019 (five one-day courses)

Led by Alan Jones, Conservation Carpenter and Master Thatcher, a leading thatcher in experimental archaeology and historical reconstructions since the early eighties. Each of the five one-day courses is centred on the thatching on the newly reconstructed timber House of Wessex at Sylva Foundation, south of Oxford.

 

Thatching with Alan Jones

Thatching with Alan Jones

You will learn how to use the materials and techniques to be used on the roof including laying turf over wattle hurdles, processing straw into yelms and bundles spar coating the thatch, dressing with a Leggett and gaining the required depth of fixings and overall depth of coat work.

The course will also include slide show and talk about evolution of our relationship with cereals as a food and shelter crop.  There will be the opportunity to mill grain into flour and taste bread made from the wheat straw from the roof.

Course content

  • Lecture of history and development of thatching in the UK.
  • Handling and processing the straw.
  • Applying turf to the hurdles.
  • Learning techniques for applying thatch to the roof at required thickness.
  • Spar coating the straw securely into position.
  • Dressing of the thatch to gain the desired shape.

Details

  • Small groups to allow for an intimate learning experience
  • Delegates can complete one or more days at £75 per day (discount for all five days, see below)
  • Delegates that complete 5 days may be invited to volunteer and complete the thatch on the House of Wessex reconstruction

Essential Requirements

Delegates are required to:

  • Have a good level of fitness
  • Be able to work at heights
  • Provide their own clothing suitable for work outdoors in all weathers
  • Provide their own safety boots
  • Provide your own food and drink

We are offering five one-day courses, run back-to-back.

Cost £75 per day. Click to book:

Saturday, 10th August

Sunday, 11th August

Monday, 12th August

Tuesday, 13th August

Wednesday, 14th August

We are pleased to offer a special discount if you want to attend all five days.

Five days for the price of four, at only £300. Offer only available by phoning us.

Please contact us on 01865 408018 to book for all 5 days, and have your payment card ready.

Location
Sylva Wood Centre
Little Wittenham Rd
Long Wittenham, OXF OX14 4QT
United Kingdom
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund


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Opening of the Sylva Teaching Barn

posted on January 22, 2019

Last Wednesday evening we opened the doors of our brand new Teaching Barn to promote the vision for the Sylva Wood School.

We enjoyed showing our trustees, funders, collaborators and friends from industry around our well-equipped teaching venue and explaining future planned developments for the Wood Centre.  Some of the creative businesses we host also opened up their workshops, highlighting the incredible community that has rapidly developed over the past three years – it was clear to see the potential for any students coming onto the site to learn from such a diverse range of experts.

Teaching Barn at the Sylva Wood Centre

Teaching Barn at the Sylva Wood Centre

The feedback from the evening was overwhelmingly positive.  It was wonderful to see the furniture industry well-represented by Dids Macdonald and Tony Smart of the Furniture Makers Company, designer-makers Richard Williams and Philip Koomen, as well as representatives of heavyweights such as William Hands and Ercol.  We look forward to further strengthening our relationship with the sector to teach and guide people into the industry.

Joseph Bray, Head of Wood School, shared his thoughts on the future of education in the wood sector focussing on the opportunities to deliver excellence in education and business enterprise.

“Schools have changed from woodwork to much broader D&T and over the past 10 years the decline in entries to GCSE has reduced by well over 50%  The emphasis of these courses has significantly moved away from making! Colleges offering vocational furniture training can almost be counted on one hand and University level craft programmes have declined significantly some closing workshops and some closing all together.  Often graduates are pushed out into the world with varying levels of support and guidance.

“An exception to the rule is our close neighbour Rycotewood in Oxford.  We hope to enhance our close relationship continuing to work closely with staff, students and graduates.

“The future can feel bleak, however we exist outside the formal education system and as a creative and flexible organisation we are able to offer a range of programmes that will plug some of the gaps.  We plan to build a schools programme for those unable to access making on the school curriculum. We will provide workshops and skills training to students who cannot access this at college or University and we will continue the excellent work already started in providing support for graduates within the community of creative enterprises that make up our site.”

Joseph is midway through an inspiring Churchill Fellowship, travelling to world-renowned institutions delivering furniture craft education in USA and Europe.  He is investigating how they continue to support students to learn craft skills in light of the challenges within the education sector and how students are supported on graduation.  This experience is especially helpful at this stage of the development of our Wood School. He is off to Europe in March and we look forward to hearing what he has learnt on his return.

We are currently delivering a programme of weekend courses using some excellent external tutors as we build up to the launch of a range courses in the summer and beyond – watch this space for some exciting opportunities.  Read more

Sylva Foundation is very grateful to the following funders for their support in constructing and furnishing the Teaching Barn: Aspen Trust, D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, Oxfordshire LEADER, People’s Postcode Lottery, Shanly Foundation.


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Sylva launches premium account for myForest

posted on January 14, 2019

A new premium account has been launched for Sylva’s flagship woodland management online software myForest. Users will have access to new tools, while income from regular subscriptions will help the charity invest further in the technology.

Since its launch in 2009, Sylva Foundation’s myForest web tool has been growing steadily, just like the woodlands it exists to support. The environmental charity has relied on word-of-mouth and a strong reputation for the increasing popularity of its online tools and resources supporting woodland management.

myForest is used by thousands of woodland owners, managers and educators, to map and manage more than 75,000ha of woodland across Britain. Its development has been supported in part by charitable trusts, government bodies, corporations, and individual donors. However, myForest requires regular funding to support maintenance and development, and the Sylva Foundation receives frequent requests for new features.

Behind the scenes, thanks to core support from The Dulverton Trust, the Sylva Foundation has been hard at work developing a range of additional premium-level tools which it now hopes some woodland owners and managers will opt to use. Paul Orsi from Sylva Foundation, who manages myForest, explained:

“We have introduced these additional tools in response to demands by users. We have kept the costs as low as possible, at only £24/year for a Woodland Owner account and £120/year for an Agent account. We hope that some owners, managers, and agents, will subscribe to a premium account. The income generated will support ongoing maintenance and allow us to invest further in the future of myForest.”

myForest feature table

myForest feature table

The most significant addition to the service, accessed via the new premium account, is access to digital mapping from the Ordnance Survey (note that additional costs apply dependent on usage). This is likely to be popular with those requiring maps for formal applications, or where existing aerial mapping imagery is poor.

myForest Woodland Manager showing OS background

myForest Woodland Manager showing OS background

With a myForest premium account you can now view data layers such as ancient woodland

With a myForest premium account you can now view data layers such as ancient woodland

A new measuring tool is just one of the new features we have added to myForest through a premium account

A new measuring tool is just one of the new features we have added to myForest through a premium account

Alongside OS mapping, various other options are on offer, including: advanced printing, overlaying of data layers such as ancient woodland boundaries, plus a range of reports such as summary reports for species and age-class distributions.

A myForest premium account allows you to download automatically generated reports for your woodland

A myForest premium account allows you to download automatically generated reports for your woodland

It is also possible to export a work programme to a spreadsheet so that it can be taken into the field or shared with others.

More features will be added to premium accounts over time and the charity will be developing a myForest mobile app by the end of the year.

www.myforest.org.uk


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Support for collaborative woodland management

posted on December 7, 2018

From today, users of our myForest service can query resource information across multiple properties which can help support collaborative woodland management.

Suited equally to woodland co-operatives or managers with multiple clients, the new functionality aims to improve efficiency by enhancing collaboration, with the main outcomes that more woodlands are managed well, and more home-grown timber reaches the market.

Most of Britain’s large plantation forests are managed as part of a crop rotation, but there are many smaller woodlands across the country, often part of mixed farms and estates under separate ownership, which are not being managed as costs can be prohibitive at small scales.

There can be distinct opportunities from scaling-up, such as: combining timber volumes to meet a new market demand; mixing timber from multiple small parcels to reduce haulage costs; or by undertaking similar operations at the same time of year to reduce costs. However, it can be complicated for agents managing data between clients, or for a co-operative project knowing enough about the resources managed by different members.

The new collaborative woodland management functionality in myForest aims to overcome these barriers by allowing users to query information across multiple clients/members. This includes:

  • search for species plus associated data (e.g. height, stem diameter, quality) across all properties/clients/members.
  • export sub-compartment information from these searchers into Excel to help with data management and manipulation.
  • browse sub-compartment locations on a map to view distances and conditions between different properties.
  • import data from new clients already on myForest, including mapping and inventory data.
  • search for areas with designations, such as SSSIs.
  • restrict searches to sites with felling licence applications.

The project arose thanks to collaboration with the Argyll Small Wood Coop. The Coop were working hard to provide their members with management plans, but were looking for a way of being able to query the information they had collected across their membership base to assess opportunities for collaborative management and marketing.

Here’s a real-life example of how the functionality can work for a Coop:

  1. Coop member Jamie Smith had a small parcel of oak on his farm that the Coop was trying to market for him.  There was a possible market available but because of the small volume of the parcel, haulage costs would make the operation uneconomic.
  2. The Coop searched its member database using the collaborative woodland management functionality on myForest to find out if there are any other Coop members with trees of the right specification that could make the overall offering more profitable.
  3. The Coop coordinator finds that Eleanor Davis has oak of a similar size on her farm.  They agree to market jointly both Jamie and Eleanor’s oak.
  4. Jamie and Eleanor’s woodlands entered active management and the woodland operations became profitable.

Equally the tool could work in the same way for woodland managers with multiple clients.

Sylva Foundation worked closely with Argyll Small Woods Coop and Wyre Community Land Trust to test and improve the functionality. Project funding was provided by Forestry Commission Scotland and Making Local Woods Work, together with core funding support from The Dulverton Trust.

As with all new developments in myForest we reply on feedback from the myForest community to make improvements. Please feel free to contact us with your feedback on this and any other aspect of myForest.


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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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