Due to Covid-19, we have reduced personnel at the offices of the Sylva Foundation and our premises at the Sylva Wood Centre. Emails and phone messages are being checked but please allow a little longer than usual to receive a response.
Please do not arrange a formal visit without first checking with us. Members of the public are free to enjoy our network of permitted paths through the Future Forest as usual.

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Annual Report and Accounts 2019-20

posted on October 5, 2020

We have published our Trustee’s Report and Independent Accounts for the year 2019-20.

2019-20 at a glance:

  • deeply saddened by the death of one our founding trustees, Dr Peter Savill
  • appointed two new trustees, including our new Chair of Trustees, Sarah Taylor
  • supported a high-profile research paper on ash dieback, based on the work of our last Oxford-Sylva Graduate Scholar Dr Louise Hill
  • partnered with government to explore ways to make treescapes more resilient
  • completed a project aiming to make Forest Schools accessible to all children across Britain
  • launched a suite of resources to support ‘Fieldwork in the Forest‘ at secondary schools
  • with our online auction platform NatureBid, we helped support environmental outcomes with multiple partners, including natural flood management, reducing nitrate fertiliser usage, and supporting the Woodland Carbon Guarantee
  • myForest supported 6,000 woodland owners and managers caring for 100,000ha of woodland across Britain
  • won a contract Defra to develop a new online platform to support woodland creation in the Northern Forest, working in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust
  • supported 15+ small-medium enterprises working with wood at the Sylva Wood Centre
  • delivered training in woodworking to members of the public and schools at the Sylva Wood School
  • started work converting another large derelict building at the Sylva Wood Centre, including demonstration of novel thermally-modified hardwoods in its construction
  • worked with more than 100 volunteers to design and build an Anglo-Saxon house on our estate and welcomed HRH The Countess of Wessex to open it
Sylva Foundation Annual Report and Accounts 2020

Sylva Foundation Annual Report and Accounts 2020 – click to download

Financial Summary

Sylva Foundation funds 2019-20

Sylva Foundation funds 2019-20

Income

Income (£472,374) was 38% less compared to the last financial year (£766,420). 33% of total income was received in donations, the majority (67%) of which were restricted to specific activities. The majority of income for Charitable Activities (£220,362) came from performance-related grants (£69,380). Income from Trading Activities was £91,535, the majority of which was from business leases at the Sylva Wood Centre.

Expenditure and Additions
Total expenditure was £502,777 which included £253,775 investment (Additions) in ongoing capital building projects at the Sylva Wood Centre. Our overheads (excluding Additions), comprising income generation, admin, and governance, represented 25% of expenditure.

Funds

The charity’s funds were £1,794,617 at the end of the 2019-20 financial year. The majority (84%) of these were designated funds.

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British Woodlands Survey 2020 report published

posted on October 1, 2020

An independent report released today highlights that those who care for woodlands and forests across Britain are increasingly aware of the threats from environmental change, especially drought, wildfires, and pathogens, such as ash dieback and acute oak decline, yet there’s little evidence of action being taken overall to improve woodland resilience.

BWS2020 report

BWS2020 report

The 2020 edition of the British Woodlands Survey, funded by the Forestry Commission and co-ordinated by the Sylva Foundation, attracted the views of 1,055 woodland owners, agents, and forestry professionals, representing 3% of privately-owned woodland in Britain. With environmental change as its main theme, the research team from Sylva Foundation and Forest Research explored awareness, action, and aspiration among the private sector which owns 74% of forested land in Britain.

Hand-in-hand with increasing awareness and observation of environmental threats, the report highlighted concerns that many of those who own or manage woodlands are not actively planning or managing in ways which would make woodlands more resilient in future. For example, a minority of respondents had considered local climate change projections or studied the soils that support their woodlands. A key indicator that an owner or manager has considered threats from environmental change while planning to make a woodland more resilient is having a management plan compliant with UK Forestry Standard. The report’s authors highlighted that a minority (31%) of respondents had a UKFS management plan in place.

Looking to the future, many respondents indicated that they might consider creating new woodlands and planting new hedgerows or agroforestry systems in the longer-term. In the short-term, however, complexities of regulations and bureaucratic grants were seen as significant hurdles preventing more landowners from considering woodland creation. This is a concern given ambitious woodland creation plans to plant 30,000ha of trees across the UK by 2025 (see Defra blog).

The report has been published in time to inform government’s England Tree Strategy and the third Climate Change Risk Assessment, and it will underpin the work of the Forestry and Climate Change working group which oversees the delivery of an action plan promoting adaptation and resilience in England.

The report’s lead author Dr Gabriel Hemery, who is also CEO of the Sylva Foundation, commented:

‘There are a huge number of interesting findings in the report, but if I was to pick one to highlight it would be how we have unearthed a very strong relationship between current activity and future intended actions among land managers. This is significant because it points to the importance of investing more in advocacy and support for those who own or manage our woodlands. The benefits will be realised not only in their woodlands, but by nature and by society as a whole.’

Forestry Commission Chair Sir William Worsley said:

‘This independent report, which we commissioned, highlights how important it is that we continue to nurture our woodlands. They are the cornerstone of a healthy environment and crucial in the fight against climate change. We recognise the challenges that landowners face when making management decisions, and we are committed to working closely with them to support long-term management, ensuring healthy and resilient woodlands for the future.’

Simon Lloyd, Chair of the Forestry and Climate Change Working Group (FCCWG) and CEO of the Royal Forestry Society added:

‘This is an immensely useful report in our work promoting adaptation and resilience in the country’s forests. While there are some positive indications of changes in awareness and behaviour, overall it’s clear that the forestry sector is not doing enough nor reacting quickly enough to combat the climate emergency.’

A series of four online workshops during October organised by the FCCWG and hosted by the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) are being held to help support woodland managers in combating climate change. Attendance online is free to all, including ICF non-members – find out more.

The British Woodlands Survey 2020 report is freely available at: www.sylva.org.uk/bws2020

BWS2020 infographic

BWS2020 infographic


British Woodlands Survey   The British Woodlands Survey (BWS) gathers evidence about Britain’s woodlands and those who care for them. The BWS aims to provide an evidence base on which future policies and practice can be developed. The first British Woodlands Survey was held in 2012 which itself built upon an important series of surveys undertaken by the Department of Land Economy at the University of Cambridge since 1963. The intention was always that a major survey was repeated every five years, while any number of additional surveys on specific themes may be run as required. The British Woodlands Survey is coordinated by Sylva Foundation and run in partnership with a large number of organisations. Summary results are always published in a report and made freely available. Where possible data collected is also used to support peer-reviewed scientific research. For more information visit: www.sylva.org.uk/bws


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A discussion about Wood Culture

posted on July 23, 2020

Recently, Sylva Foundation CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery was interviewed by Tom Barnes, Director of Vastern Timber, about Wood Culture. They discussed public perspectives of forestry and the need to recreate an affinity between society and the natural world.

 

With thanks to Vastern Timber.


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Welcome to our new Forester

posted on July 6, 2020

We’re delighted to welcome George Dennison to Sylva as a new member of staff taking up the new role of Forester.

Thanks to grant funding provided by the John Ellerman Foundation the new position of Forester at Sylva will mean we have more capacity to work with landowners, forestry professionals, and partners to support sustainable forestry across Britain.

George Dennison, Forester at Sylva Foundation

George Dennison, Forester at Sylva Foundation

Appointee George Dennison graduated this summer from Bangor University with a Masters in Forestry with International Experience, including a year abroad at the University of British Columbia.

While studying George became a board member of the International Forestry Students’ Association where he was fortunate enough to travel to several countries exploring the world through forestry. Having worked as a part-time arboriculturalist and land manager between semesters, he is keen to begin putting theory and policy into practice across the UK in the years to come.


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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

posted on

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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