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Woodland Creation In the Making

posted on April 27, 2020

We’re delighted to announce the development of a major new project. Working in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust, the Sylva Foundation is delivering a Woodland Creation Test and Trial to support the development of Defra’s Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme.

Woodland Creation project

Woodland Creation project

Sylva Foundation is well-known for its innovative land-management platforms including the Woodland Manager tool in myForest (used by more than 6,000 owners and land managers), Woodland Wildlife Toolkit, Deer Manager, and the online auction platform NatureBid.

The two-year project is supported by a core partnership with the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust, while the approach being taken is to work closely with practitioners to co-design the tools and services of the new platform.

In the first year (2020) we are engaging with stakeholders within the Northern Forest, to co-design and then assess a range of innovative methods to provide greater knowledge and improved management of woodland creation for a wide range of stakeholders at different holding scales and across different landscapes. At the end of March we held an interactive online workshop with 27 stakeholders to start the co-design process.

The main outputs of the project will be the building and testing of a new IT platform to support stakeholders with mapping tools, and links to other decision support tools. We will also be developing a woodland creation plan.

During 2021 we will be refining and retesting outputs with stakeholders beyond the Northern Forest in a second tree planting season.

We have a new webpage for the Woodland Creation project which we’ll be updating regularly.

Creation project partners

Creation project partners


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Forester Wanted

posted on April 24, 2020

We are looking for an exceptional and early-career Forester

Job advert

Job advert

We are looking for a Forester to join our dynamic small team. The important role will focus on improving the support we provide to users of our services, including working on new developments, improving communication with users, and providing training. The successful applicant is likely to have a flair for communication, familiarity with technologies including GIS, and a passion for sustainable forest management. While based in south Oxfordshire, the work will take the candidate across Britain so a willingness to travel is essential. The role is likely to suit an early-career forester.

Apply online. CVs and letters will not be accepted.

Deadline for applications: Sunday 17th May

Full details and the online application can be found at www.sylva.org.uk/jobs

 

 

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British Woodlands Survey 2020 launched

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The British Woodlands Survey 2020 (BWS2020) has been launched and remains open until the end of June. In this new survey, researchers want to understand awareness, action and aspiration among Britain’s forestry community to environmental change.

BWS2020-logoBWS2020 comes five years after the ground-breaking British Woodlands Survey of 2015 which explored the same themes, and this new survey will allow researchers to explore changes over time. The most recent British Woodland Survey (2017) reached those responsible for managing one-fifth of all UK woodland area, and the results have influenced policy and practice at the highest levels. Researchers aim to reach even more people than in previous surveys, especially landowners, land managers, agents, tree nurseries and businesses who have an interest in our trees and forests.

BWS2020 is run by the Sylva Foundation and this year is funded by the Forestry Commission. Chief Executive of the Sylva Foundation, Dr Gabriel Hemery, said:

“The British Woodland Survey is taken seriously by decision makers among our most influential environmental bodies and organisations. We are always excited by the opportunity the survey provides for working professionals and practitioners to have their say and influence policy and practice.”

FCCWG-logo

The survey is supported by the Forestry and Climate Change Working Group whose 15 members include representatives from Confor, Country Land & Business Association, Defra, Forestry Commission, Forest Research, Future Trees Trust, Institute of Chartered Foresters, Natural England, Pryor and Rickett, Royal Forestry Society, Sylva Foundation, Tilhill, Tree Council, Woodland Heritage and Woodland Trust. The results of the survey will help shape the future agenda for this group.

You can read more and find a link to the survey here: www.sylva.org.uk/bws2020

 


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Invitation to Tender to Supply Woodworking Machinery

posted on March 20, 2020

Sylva Foundation is seeking a suitably qualified supplier to supply, deliver and install/commission industrial woodworking machinery.

We are pleased to offer this as an open process for suitable suppliers to tender proposals. Deadline for submissions is 12 noon on 3rd April.

Specification summary:

  1. Surface Planer, with Spiral/Tersa Block minimum 500mm wide.Minimum 7 KW motor
  2. Thickness Planer, with Spiral/Tersa Block minimum 600mm wide,Sectional infeed roller,Rubber outfeed roller
  3. Panel Saw,with electronic control (rise/fall & tilt), Minimum 3m sliding table,Scoring unit
  4. Spindle moulder, with electronic control (rise/fall), with integrated Aigner fence,
  5. 3 roller power feed unit for spindle moulder
  6. Large Bandsaw, Minimum 500mm wheel diameter,Minimum 4HP motor
  7. Cross cut saw,400mm blade – 550mm travel,
  8. Rip Saw,500mm blade capacity

Delivery of all machinery to Sylva Foundation Wood Centre, Long Wittenham, Oxfordshire OX14 4QT.

Installation/commission of all machinery in the Sylva Foundation Wood School workshop, and induction/training into the installed machines.

Full details are available in the Tender Document

This opportunity has also been posted on the Government’s Contracts Finder Service

download tender specification (pdf)

download tender specification (pdf)

 

 

 

 

 

 


Background

Oxfordshire-based charity the Sylva Foundation launched its Wood School in 2019. Alongside a facility to support lifelong learning in wood craft for the public, its ambition is to provide skills training for aspiring woodworking professionals. While for some people this may be crafts-based, there is also a requirement to train workers in professional practice, to be capable of working within industrial manufacturing, requiring skills in using large-scale machinery and working under batch-production conditions. The next step in our project is to purchase a range of industrial wood manufacturing machinery and equipment for the Sylva Wood School that would complete existing investments in a building and personnel. The outputs of the programme will be a highly skilled workforce on a rolling basis to support local businesses, supporting the local economy. As an environmental charity, a key component of the business will be to support the use of sustainably-sourced timber, which in turn will stimulate the land-based economy and its environmental goods.


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Renovation of the old Grain Store

posted on March 9, 2020

Despite the wet winter we’ve been busy at the Sylva Wood Centre completing the renovation of our old Grain Store. We’ve just completed this timelapse film, taken over several months, which finishes with the fitting of innovative thermally-modified hardwood products, including cladding, windows, and a door. The Brimstone products were provided by Vastern Timber, in turn supported by a grant from the Forestry Commission.

Oxfordshire Leader

Oxfordshire Leader

EU agricultural fund for rural development

EU agricultural fund for rural development

The building is almost unrecognisable from its former state, clad in asbestos and fit only for storage. Most visitors are convinced it is a completely new build.

Our thanks to all those who’ve worked on the building, and to our funders Oxfordshire Leader.

 


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New Woodland Management Resources for Educators

posted on December 11, 2019

Today the Sylva Foundation launches a set of new woodland management resources for teachers, Forest School leaders and other outdoor educators, through the myForest for Education website.

myForest for Education is a free online application that enables educators to produce simple maps and management plans for their outdoor education sites, and has been designed in partnership with the Forest School Association to support Forest School leaders. myForest currently has over 1500 registered education users. In response to recent user feedback, Sylva Foundation have produced a new step-by-step PDF help guide, a guide to ecological impact assessment, and a set of tutorial videos for using myForest for Education.

Watch the video

Explore the new help resources for use with myForest for Education
In a nationwide survey of 1,171 people led by the Sylva Foundation in 2019 [1] , tree health was identified as a key training need area by educators. Together with the Forestry Commission Plant Health Forestry Team, the Sylva Foundation have produced a set of pest and disease factsheets for four common broadleaved trees, directly addressing this need. The resources are designed for use in the field by Forest School leaders and other educators, alone or with older children (9+), helping to spot common tree pests and diseases and providing reporting and management advice. They are the first tree pest and disease resources in England designed specifically for educators.

Explore the new tree health resources

Education resources on myForest for Education

Education resources on myForest for Education

 

Download the leaf insect herbivore ID guide

Leaf insect herbivore identification guide

Leaf insect herbivore identification guide

Sylva Foundation have also produced a leaf insect herbivore identification guide, for use by educators in the field and to plan bug-related activities with children.

We hope you enjoy using the new resources on myForest for Education. These resources have been made possible with funding from the Ernest Cook Trust, and were developed in collaboration with Sylva Foundation intern Elsa Field, a DPhil student from Oxford University whose internship was funded through NERC.


[1] Hemery, G., Hurst, J., Petrokofsky, G., (2019).
Bringing children closer to nature: report of a survey on Forest School and outdoor learning in England. 23pp. www.sylva.org.uk/forestschools


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The Future of Furniture Craft Education

posted on December 4, 2019

Our Head of Wood School, Joseph Bray, writes about his recent experience completing a Churchill Fellowship exploring furniture education in the US and Scandinavia.

Joseph Bray's report for the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust: The Future of Furniture Craft Education

Download Joseph Bray’s report for the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust: The Future of Furniture Craft Education

This time last year I was returning from the first leg of my Churchill travelling fellowship where I visited a wide range of institutions offering high quality furniture education in the USA and Europe. I set out to explore how furniture craft skills were delivered and how these programmes supported graduates to bridge the gap between education and professional life. It was a truly inspirational experience that has taught me so much about the shared issues we face as well as some amazing examples of best practice.

My key recommendations are to:

  1. Establish inspirational opportunities for young people to experience making
  2. Integrate rigorous professional practice into craft education
  3. Stimulate collaboration locally, nationally and internationally

I started the fellowship while I was the programme leader of the Furniture Design and Make BA degree course at Rycotewood in Oxford and now I am heading up our growing Sylva Wood School. We have plans to offer a unique programme that aims to develop craft skills through commercial batch production, create a business development programme, and build on the success of our first summer school in collaboration with Grown in Britain. These activities are all aimed at helping to bridge the gap between education and the world beyond – I am very pleased to be able to put some of my findings into practice.

An important principle of a Churchill Fellowship is to share the findings with your community on your return. I have completed a report, ‘The future of furniture craft education’ and this is freely available and can be downloaded here.

Future of Furniture Craft Education: key recommendations

Future of Furniture Craft Education: key recommendations

 

Category: Announcements

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House of Wessex receives second Royal visit . . . 1300 years later

posted on November 28, 2019

Her Royal Highness, the Countess of Wessex, formally opened our uniquely reconstructed Anglo-Saxon building during a visit yesterday. Named the ‘House of Wessex’, the replica seventh century building has been painstakingly built over a period of two years with the help of experts and hundreds of volunteer days.

In 2016, during preparations underway before planting a new community woodland, environmental charity the Sylva Foundation worked with archaeologists to reveal the remains of an important Anglo-Saxon building on its land in south Oxfordshire. The building’s age, dimensions, and location all pointed to its importance for the Wessex Kingdom, perhaps even a royal residence. Archaeologists believe it will have formed part of a settlement associated with a leading family of the West Saxons in the seventh century. Thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the charity was able to gather together experts and volunteers to design and then faithfully reconstruct the building using tools and techniques from the period.

After months of planning, and the donation of more than 80 trees from the Blenheim Estate, the raising of the timber frame took place this summer. The house was built on the same site, but just one metre removed to preserve any remaining archaeology. The timber frame was constructed by Carpenter’s Fellowship volunteers using simple hand tools, and took more than 500 labour days to complete. By the autumn, the thatching of the roof had been completed and the walls constructed with wattle. With the help of families, the walls were plastered with daub comprising clay, straw and cow dung.

During the reconstruction, the charity held a number of public open days with a living history society, the Wulfheodenas, who impressed visitors with their cooking, weapon making, and weaving skills. With local history groups the charity has also created a heritage trail linking the site of the reconstruction to nearby historic features.

The legacy for the project is the House of Wessex itself which will function as an educational facility. The Wulfheodenas will play an active role in continuing to develop the house and will support the charity in delivering educational activities with the public.

Inviting the Countess of Wessex to unveil an interpretation panel next to the building to mark its opening, Dr Gabriel Hemery, Chief Executive of the Sylva Foundation, said:

“On behalf of the Sylva Foundation, and all our incredible supporters, I am delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness, the Countess of Wessex, to formally open the House of Wessex. This reconstruction celebrates the birth of the kingdom of Wessex thirteen hundred years ago on this very spot. Not only is the Countess of Wessex able to lend her title to the occasion, but knowing of her interest in the countryside, it’s been a privilege to introduce her to the charity’s work today.”

For recent press coverage, and for some fabulous images, see:

Visit our webpage for the House of Wessex

 


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Announcing the death of our trustee Peter Savill

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It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our long-standing trustee and great friend to Sylva Foundation, Dr Peter Savill.

Dr Peter Savill, formerly Chair of Trustees - Sylva Foundation

Dr Peter Savill, formerly Chair of Trustees – Sylva Foundation

Peter served as a trustee for the charity since its inception ten years ago, and was a great friend and professional colleague to all of us at Sylva. He had only recently stepped down as Chair of our Trustee board, after serving in that position for five years.

We will publish a full obituary in due course.

Chief Executive Dr Gabriel Hemery would welcome any messages from those who knew Peter. Please use the following form to do so:

https://forms.gle/UxkJwLAduSzMue3f7

 

Category: Announcements
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Forestry Fieldwork Resources Launched for Secondary Schools

posted on November 13, 2019

Fieldwork in the Forest, our new forestry fieldwork resources for secondary school geography teachers and pupils launches today.

Fieldwork in the Forest

Fieldwork in the Forest

The resources are the culmination of four years of consultation with geography teachers and effective partnerships, working across England’s education and forestry sectors. The Sylva Foundation, with support from Patsy Wood Trust and Forestry Commission, has produced a new set of free teaching resources and an accompanying film designed for secondary school geography teachers and their pupils. The resources and film encourage and enable educators to use nearby wooded areas and forests with their classes.

Visit the Fieldwork in the Forest webpage

The aims of Fieldwork in the Forest are two-fold:

  1. to support secondary schools to do more fieldwork in England’s woodlands and forests, and;
  2. to increase teaching, learning and understanding of British forestry amongst secondary school-aged people in England.
Fieldwork in the Forest free downloads

Fieldwork in the Forest free downloads. Click on image to view resources

Steve Fowkes, Advisor for Business and Markets, Forestry Commission said:

“The Forestry Skills Forum has been aware for a while that there is a significant gap in understanding and awareness of British forestry and woodland management at secondary school level. This is one of the factors leading to poor uptake of forestry careers in England, and it’s great to see the Sylva Foundation, one of the key partners of the Forum, taking action through the Forestry Skills Action Plan to address this. The Fieldwork in the Forest project goes a long way in bridging this gap and inspiring the next generation of foresters.”

Jen Hurst, Sylva Foundation’s Head of Education commented.

“Fieldwork in the Forest is an excellent example of partnership working and collaboration; a strength in all Sylva’s work. Thanks go to the enthusiasm of more than 80 trainee geography PGCE students from the Department of Education, University of Oxford and their tutors who have been willing to try out fieldwork ideas and evaluate them with us over the past four years. Blenheim Estate team and Combe Mill Society have supported the project from the start providing access to a nearby woodland and excellent facilities. Thanks also go to the experts in the Evenlode Catchment Partnership who have provided high-quality input during annual fieldwork training days. We hope geographers will enjoy using these resources as much as we have developing them!”

The fieldwork methodologies and advice sheets can be used in any wooded area or forest to fulfil parts of the geography curriculum fieldwork requirements at GCSE and A-Level in England. These teaching resources may also inspire A-Level pupils to consider forestry related fieldwork for their independent investigations.

Explore the Fieldwork in the Forest resources

 


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