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Summer School 2021

posted on October 12, 2021

In September, Sylva Foundation hosted a Summer School for young creative people to promote design and craft using home-grown timber. The inspiring report from the workshop is published today to coincide with Grown in Britain week.

Sylva Foundation cares passionately about trees and people, and at its Wood School in south Oxfordshire it has set out to nurture a wood culture, enhancing the potential of a home-grown timber supply while promoting the benefits of managing woodlands for people and nature. It is promoting excellence in creativity and craft using home-grown timber, and this year’s week-long Summer School was no exception. This inspiring event was the perfect vehicle to educate, collaborate, and innovate.

The concept of the 2021 Summer School was to bring together a group of passionate creative people and provide them with all of the necessary ingredients to explore, design, and create prototypes in the charity’s professional workshops.

Summer School 2021

Summer School 2021

A series of talks by industry leaders inspired and educated delegates about the potential of under-utilised home-grown timber, providing context for the fast-paced design-and-make experience which followed. The delegates were then encouraged and fostered a ‘thinking through making’ approach, supported by a brilliant team of tutors.

The added dimension of the group was that all identified as women or non-binary, creating a community of makers that went against the grain of most furniture craft courses, and indeed the wider industry. This led to some supportive conversations about gender and hopefully a group that will continue to support one another into the future.

Head of Wood School Joseph Bray commented:

Everyone involved was blown away by the experience and certainly, everyone involved went home exhausted yet inspired. The results were incredibly impressive and represent the hard work of this remarkable cohort.

Download the report


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Impact Report 2021

posted on October 6, 2021

We are delighted to publish our first ever Impact Report, highlighting our achievements and impacts during the last year.

The report came about thanks to the support of an amazing volunteer, Shems Hadj-Nassar, who brought her communications expertise to bear in supporting our team in writing and designing the report. This perfectly illustrates how Sylva is able to achieve what it does only thanks to the support of an amazing group of passionate, dedicated, and skilled people, including volunteers, associates, staff, and trustees.

Impact Report 2021

Impact Report 2021

In his introduction, CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery writes:

The past year has given us the opportunity to reflect on how far we have come in 12 years, but also to ensure our work remains accessible to all. We have come to realise that it is quite simple; even as we continue to grow, all the various strands of Sylva’s work are connected by our belief that through innovating, collaborating, training, and learning, we can nurture a wood culture, and grow a future.

We would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the report. If you think you could help us by donating some skills or expertise, please do get in touch. Read more

Read Sylva Foundation’s 2021 Impact Report

 

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Annual Report and Accounts for 2020-21

posted on September 6, 2021

We have published our Trustee’s Report and Independent Accounts for the year 2020-21.

The trustees of Sylva Foundation are pleased to release the formal report from the board for 2020-21 and the independent accounts produced by our financial auditors. Click to download in full, or read the summary below.

2020-21 at a glance:

download Sylva's annual report and accounts for 2020-21

download Sylva’s annual report and accounts for 2020-21

  • appointed two new trustees: Dr Mary Barkham and Jim Waterson
  • expanded our IT team
  • ran a new British Woodlands Survey exploring awareness, action, and aspirations among land managers to environmental change
  • continued to play a strong role in supporting the work of the Forestry & Climate Change Working Group
  • supported Defra by conducting research for the Resilient Treescapes project
  • started work on the Future Oak project with Bangor University
  • supported 2,149 environmental educators across Britain via our myForest for Education platform
  • supported 7,084 woodland owners and more than 1,000 forestry agents  in caring for 126,693ha across Britain via the myForest Woodland Manager
  • continued work developing a new IT platform to support woodland creation, working with both Defra and Scottish Forestry
  • delivered multiple environmental auctions across England for partners using our NatureBid platform, including the third Woodland Carbon Guarantee
  • supported more than 20 SME wood businesses at the Sylva Wood Centre
  • launched our new Professional Course and taught 5 students to work with home-grown timber to batch produce for commercial clients
  • completed renovation work on the Grain Store at the Sylva Wood Centre, including fit out of a state-of-art machinery and teaching unit
  • continued to engage with visitors to our small estate in Oxfordshire, providing interpretation and events to advocate our mission

Financial Summary

Income

Income (£496,959) increased by 5% compared to the previous financial year (£472,374).

12% of total income was received in donations. The majority of income for Charitable Activities (£309,809) came from performance-related grants (£212,039). Income from Trading Activities was £120,758, the majority of which was from business leases at the Sylva Wood Centre.

Expenditure and Additions
Total expenditure was £437,22, 65% of which was spent on salaries.

Our overheads, comprising income generation, admin, and governance, represented 13% of expenditure.

Funds

The charity’s Designated funds (87% of which are operational fixed assets comprising land and buildings at the Sylva Wood Centre) were £1,625,604 at the end of the 2020-21 financial year. Restricted funds were £88,425, and Unrestricted funds £140,325.


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Launch of the Sylva Wood School Fellowship Fund

posted on August 27, 2021

Could you help support a young craftsperson by making a donation to our new Sylva Wood School Fellowship Fund?

We are pleased to launch a new campaign aiming to establish a fund to support young craftspeople who graduate from our Professional Making Course. The Sylva Wood School Fellowship Fund will allow us to appoint Fellows, chosen from our course alumni.

Sylva Wood School

 

At the Sylva Wood School we are training a new generation of young people to work creatively with home-grown wood. We aim to help them establish a successful career, improve their chances of employment, and ultimately to become ambassadors for home-grown wood in future society. Each year we have students who complete our six-month course. We aim to help the very best of our alumni progress their skills and experience by establishing a fund to support them financially during the difficult months following their graduation. During this time, we will also help them practically by providing a work bench with access to ongoing advice and support at the Wood School. Read more about the Professional Making Course

Money raised through this campaign will be held by Sylva Foundation and used to create a fund from which grants can be awarded to deserving young people under the Sylva Wood School Fellowship programme. Donors can choose to give once or set up a regular donation.

Please see the interactive form below (or click here)



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What Future for our Iconic Oak?

posted on June 14, 2021

Forest managers and others with an interest in trees are invited to share their knowledge and expertise with a team of researchers who are aiming to discover how declining health is affecting trees across the UK, and to understand views on possible new treatments.

Future Oak project

Future Oak project

The survey is part of the Future Oak research project, led by Bangor University, and is investigating the health of oak trees in the UK. Our native oak species are increasingly under-pressure from a variety of pests, pathogens, and changes to the landscape and climate. The project focuses particularly on Acute Oak Decline (AOD) and will explore the role of micro-organisms in this disease.

The research team believes that without careful study, we will be ill-equipped to meet the challenges our forests face over the next century. Only by understanding both the science of tree response to pests, pathogens, and climate change; and the current management knowledge base and practices can we hope to counter these threats and build the resilience our woodlands require. Research of this nature is critical in developing our understanding of the issues facing oak in the UK, but without the support of Forest Managers its practical application will be limited.

Ultimately, understanding forest manager perspectives is critical to the design and deployment of any solution to tree health problems.

Please take part in the BWS2021

BWS2021

BWS2021


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Join us for Artweeks 2021

posted on May 7, 2021

We are pleased to be opening up the Sylva Wood Centre again to the public for Artweeks 2021.

We are open for two weekends: 15/16 and 22/23 May from 10am-5pm.

In a change from previous years, we are providing more open workshops that visitors can enjoy seeing the craftspeople at work and talk to them about their work. We are also excited to be able to open up the new Wood School to members of the public, and visitors will be able to meet with our tutor and students.

As always, take advantage of free parking and enjoy homemade cakes plus tea and coffee in the Hardwood Cafe.

Find us on the Oxfordshire Artweeks website: www.artweeks.org/festival/2021/sylva-wood-centre

COVID-19: we will be following government advice to ensure the safety of visitors. Many of our spaces are large and well-ventilated, and any access to any smaller spaces will be limited to 5 visitors at a time. Handwashing and sterilising stations will be provided.

 

Artweeks 2021 (1)

Artweeks 2021 (1)

Artweeks 2021 (2)

Artweeks 2021 (2)

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Mary Barkham Appointed Trustee

posted on March 23, 2021

We are delighted to welcome Dr Mary Barkham as a trustee of the Sylva Foundation. Mary was appointed as a trustee at a board meeting held on 19th March 2021.

Mary Barkham Sylva trustee

Dr Mary Barkham Sylva trustee

Mary has had a career spanning both the public and private sector. She has a degree in horticultural science and a PhD in plant pathology. Following a period of research in universities, she worked in fungicide research for Dow Chemical followed by 14 years with the Research Councils coordinating environmental research in the UK through the Environmental Research Funders’ Forum and the Living With Environmental Change Partnership.

In 2014 she became a Forestry Commissioner for England and Scotland, has sat on the expert Committee on Forest Science and the Forest Research Board. Now retired, Mary continues to Chair the Partnership Board for Observatree (an award-winning citizen science project on tree health), is a Trustee for the William Robinson Gravetye Charity and was until recently a Trustee for the Earth Trust.

Mary lives in Wales where she is doing an eco-renovation of a farmhouse and enjoying walking and gardening.

Read more about Sylva Foundation’s board of trustees

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Pioneering project to safeguard our iconic oaks launched

posted on March 12, 2021

The FUTURE OAK project, comprising scientists at Bangor University, Aberystwyth University, Forest Research and Sylva Foundation, will study how oak microbiomes are affected by environmental change and disease.

FUTURE OAK logo

Visit the Future Oak website

The UK is home to around 170 million oak trees, and more ancient oak trees than the rest of Europe combined. Native oak support over 2000 species of insects, birds, mammals, and fungi, but climate change, human activity, and outbreaks of tree disease are affecting the health of our forests. Acute Oak Decline (or AOD) poses a significant threat to our native oak trees. Trees with AOD are weakened by environmental stresses, like drought, and several different bacteria cause the inner bark tissue to rot. Bark-boring beetles also feed on the inner bark of weakened trees, further increasing bacterial activity. Eventually, the outer bark cracks, releasing fluid from the rotting inner tissue and causing the distinctive stem ‘bleeds’ that are observed on trees affected by AOD.

Like humans, trees have trillions of microbes living on and inside them. This collection of microbes and the part of the plant where they are active is called the ‘microbiome’. Microbiomes are important for plant and animal health – they provide nutrients for growth, regulate immune systems, and protect against pathogens. Beneficial microbes in a tree’s microbiome are essential for fighting diseases.

Prof. James McDonald, the project leader explained:

“The FUTURE OAK project will analyse hundreds of native oaks across Britain to understand which microbes promote health and fight diseases. We’ll then test the ability of these microbes to suppress bacteria which cause disease. This will help us to develop biocontrol treatments for the oak microbiome, to promote healthier trees and suppress the symptoms of AOD. Working with forest managers, we’ll seek to understand how microbiomes fit with established understandings of tree health, and how our research can help.”

Safeguarding our iconic oaks

Prof McDonald added:

“We are delighted to receive funding for this project, and look forward to working with land-owners and forest managers to safeguard our iconic oaks and the ecosystems they provide for future generations.”

Chief Plant Health Officer, Nicola Spence, said:

“It is vital we do all we can to protect our oak trees for future generations. The FUTURE OAK research project will play an important role in finding solutions to make this iconic tree species more resilient. This project is supported by Action Oak – a pioneering, collaborative partnership which is raising funds for ambitious research projects such as FUTURE OAK.”

The research is supported by £1.3M of funding from the Bacterial Plant Diseases programme funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Defra and Scottish Government and is also supported by Action Oak.

Visit the Future Oak website to find out more


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Help Shape Tree Health Policy

posted on February 12, 2021

If you manage trees in England, whether in an urban or rural setting and at any scale, from large woodlands through to individual trees, we want to hear your views on a range of potential tree health policies and interventions. This is a chance for you to help shape future support from government.

The results of this survey, with other research outputs, will feed into the development of a Tree Health scheme, as part of the government’s Agricultural Transition Plan published on 30 November 2020.

Stakeholder engagement workshop in Somerset led by Sylva Foundation

Stakeholder engagement workshop in Somerset led by Sylva Foundation

This survey builds on recent work exploring tree health issues with expert stakeholders across England. A team from Defra, Forest Research, Sylva Foundation, and the Countryside & Community Research Institute, held a series of workshops with landowners, managers and agents. This survey will test the ideas and principles developed in those workshops.

The survey focusses on four ‘host’ tree species at grave risk of attack by pests or pathogens: ash, larch, spruce, and sweet chestnut. For each of the species, we want you to tell us what blend of regulation, financial support, and advice would deliver the best outcomes. In your response we encourage you to choose any combination of tree species that is relevant to you.

The Tree Health Policy Survey launches formally on 15 February and will remain open for 2 weeks until 1 March.

Please take part: http://resilient-treescapes-survey.sylva.org.uk


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Sylva CEO receives Peter Savill Award

posted on January 27, 2021

In 2020, CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery was jointly awarded, with Professor Julian Evans, the Peter Savill Award for contributions to the British forestry industry.

Peter’s widow Michelle Savill recently visited the Sylva Wood Centre to hand over the beautiful prize, turned from a piece of walnut burr. The great silviculturist Dr Peter Savill served as a trustee of Sylva Foundation since the charity’s inception and later as its Chair of trustees. Gabriel first worked with Peter when they collaborated in establishing the British & Irish Hardwoods Improvement Programme (which later became a charity in its own right, the Future Trees Trust), and he supervised Gabriel’s DPhil at the University of Oxford. The pair continued to work closely together, running field trials, co-authoring research papers, and supporting the work of various charities.

Dr Gabriel Hemery, CEO Sylva Foundation, receiving the Savill Award from Michelle Savill

Dr Gabriel Hemery, CEO Sylva Foundation, receiving the Savill Award from Michelle Savill at the Sylva Wood Centre

The prize is awarded each year by Woodland Heritage, and was first awarded in 2007. Read more: www.woodlandheritage.org/awards

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