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Future Forest springs to life

posted on April 21, 2017

From a bare field in January to a new growing woodland in April boasting 7,500 trees and a wildflower meadow, we reflect on four amazing months of activity with our new Forest Friends.

To the south of the Sylva Wood Centre lay a small arable field. It was too small to manage efficiently with modern farm machinery and was a relatively sterile landscape with no public access. With our passion for trees it shouted out to be planted! As we write, the first trees are coming into leaf and the wildflowers are peeping up between the grasses, and a network of paths have been created through the woodland. None of this would have been possible without help from our funders, volunteers, donors and of course all our new Forest Friends

With support from four main funders we were able to turn our vision for a demonstration ‘Future Forest’ into reality. We are very grateful to:

  • Woodland Trust
  • Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE2)
  • D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust
  • Finnis Scott Foundation

The forest was divided into more than 250 plots of 25 trees, each of which was made available to sponsor by our new Forest Friends. Most of these were individuals and families who wanted to make a difference to the environment and create a lasting legacy to be passed down through generations.

Some plots were sponsored by corporate partners and we were very grateful for support from Forest Holidays, Grown in Britain, Kubota UK, North Oxford Property Services, and Rokesmith.

Thanks to additional support from TESCO and the Ernest Cook Trust we were able to dedicate an area of the Future Forest especially for schools. We invited more 700 primary school children, plus young adults from local youth groups, to each plant a tree. The funding enabled us to build a shelter and fire pit, erect a fence to exclude dogs, and pay a subsidy to help the schools recover transport costs.

We look forward to working with all our new Forest Friends to care for the Future Forest over the years to come.


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Kubota UK supports the Sylva Future Forest

posted on April 18, 2017

Kubota UK, one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of agricultural, construction, groundcare equipment and industrial engines, has teamed up with Sylva Foundation, an environmental charity, to support the local community and its surrounding landscape.

Kubota launched its partnership with the charity by taking part in an ‘Earth, Wind and Fire’ event at the Sylva Foundation Wood Centre, situated in the South Oxfordshire countryside.

Kubota employees planted 25 trees throughout a 10×10 metre plot as part of the Sylva Foundation Future Forest scheme, which allows people to build a lasting affinity with a growing woodland by sponsoring their own plot. The new initiative spans over three hectares and contains 325 individual plots that can be sponsored by individuals, families, schools and businesses.

Speaking of the partnership, Candice Dillingham, HR Manager for Kubota UK, said: “Working with the Sylva Foundation is such a natural and organic fit for Kubota as the charity’s commitment to the safekeeping of the natural environment and creating a sustainable future is very similar to our own.”

“The Earth, Wind and Fire event was a fantastic experience for all of the Kubota employees involved. As we are one of the biggest employers in Thame, we are dedicated to giving back to the local community, so being able to support and develop the region’s natural landscape allows us to do just that.”

Throughout the day Kubota employees planted a range of trees, including Japanese red cedar and wild cherry to name but a few. Employees were also offered the opportunity to explore the 14 operational wood-based businesses located on site, allowing them to meet with different experts and craftsmen. Here they could see how versatile the various types of wood are and how their applications can vary exponentially.

Gabriel Hemery, Chief Executive of Sylva Foundation, said:

“At Sylva we help people and trees grow together. Being able to work alongside Kubota UK to help fulfil this mission has already been a great experience for all involved. The newly-planted trees demonstrate the beginning of a working countryside that will help to connect local people to the natural environment around them.

“As both organisations have so much in common, it’s fantastic that we can work together to support good countryside management throughout Oxfordshire.”

The event marks just the beginning of the partnership between Kubota UK and the Sylva Foundation, with Kubota employees being able to tend to their trees and watch them develop over the coming years.

To find out more about Kubota and its market-leading range of agricultural, construction and groundcare machinery solutions, visit www.kubota.co.uk and to find out more about the Sylva Foundation and its range of sponsorship opportunities, visit www.sylva.org.uk.


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Putting the Forestry into Forest Education

posted on March 31, 2017

Last week eighty forest educators came together at Bishops Wood Centre to increase their skills and knowledge in forestry at a conference run by England’s Forest Education Network (FEN). Sylva Foundation played a key role in developing the forestry theme of the conference and helping deliver the conference in its role as one of six national organisations on the FEN steering group.

Jen Hurst delivers the woodland management workshop

Jen Hurst delivers the woodland management workshop

In partnership with Royal Forestry Society and Bishops Wood, Sylva’s Education Manager Jen Hurst ran a workshop “Wonderful ways with woodland management that accommodates education”. Participants in the workshop were introduced to woodland management through games, group activities and lively discussions on the complexities of sustainably managing a woodland for multiple objectives. A Forest School Leader trainer commented:

“We are looking forward to passing on the woodland management tips to our Forest School trainees.”

During the workshop Sylva’s myForest for Education was introduced as a free online tool to support educators in developing their own woodland management plans for their sites. Some participants commented:

“It’s a really useful tool” and “Sylva Foundation was very inspiring.”

Participants also took part in two other workshops on the day including: Seeing the wood for the trees – the importance of identification and tree health awareness for woodland management, run by Forestry Commission and Field Studies Council; and Resilient Woodlands for the future, making the right tree planting choices run by the Woodland Trust and Forestry Commission.

Learning in the woods

Learning in the woods

Conference feedback showed that FEN had successfully put the forestry back into forest education!

If you would like to be involved in future FEN events, have access to free education resources, keep up to date with national forest education organisations and join this growing network of forest educators join FEN!

 


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Ten key principles of the Tree Charter published

posted on March 27, 2017

Ten key principles of the Tree Charter have been published today, aiming to bring trees and woods to the centre of UK society.

The 10 guiding principles for the future of trees, woods and people, have been drawn from more than 50,000 stories submitted by members of the public, including woodland owners via a survey Sylva Foundation ran in 2016. The principles reveal the role of trees in our lives, and are agreed by a coalition of more than 70 cross-sector UK organisations, including Sylva Foundation. These organisations are now united in calling for people across the UK to stand up for trees by signing the Tree Charter and helping to shape history.

Charter for Trees, Woods and PeopleThe principles will form the bedrock of the new ‘Charter for Trees, Woods and People’ to be launched in November 2017, which aims to secure a brighter future for the nation’s woods and trees, and to protect the rights of all people in the UK to access the many benefits they offer.

Gabriel Hemery, Sylva Foundation CEO said:

“The Tree Charter is important for everyone in the UK. It is a vehicle for us all to reflect for a moment about what trees mean to us individually, and thanks to the engagement with tens of thousands of people across the UK it will provide a clarion call for society to do better in protecting and enhancing our trees and forests.”

Beccy Speight , Woodland Trust CEO said:

“Today, our nation’s woods and trees are facing unprecedented pressures from development, pests and diseases and climate change. They risk being neglected, undervalued and forgotten.  Now is the time to create a new Tree Charter, which recognises the importance of trees in our society, celebrates their enormous contribution to our lives, and acts now so that future generations can benefit from them too.”

Whereas the historic charter was signed by a King to grant rights to his subjects, the new Tree Charter will draw its strength from people power, with signatures from hundreds of thousands of people from across the UK.

Principle Themes and their Aims:

  1. Nature                                                Thriving habitats for diverse species
  2. Planting                                             Planting for the future
  3. Arts & Heritage                               Celebrating the cultural impacts of trees
  4. Utility & Livelihoods                      A thriving forestry sector that delivers for the UK
  5. Protection                                        Better protection for important trees and woods
  6. Planning                                            Enhancing new developments with trees
  7. Health & Wellbeing                       Understanding and using the natural health benefits of trees
  8. People & Access to trees               Access to trees for everyone
  9. Coping with Threats                      Addressing threats  to woods and trees through good management
  10. Environment                                   Strengthening landscapes with woods and trees

 

The Tree Charter Principles articulate the relationship between people and trees in the UK in the 21st Century. The final Charter will provide guidance and inspiration for policy, practice, innovation and enjoyment, redefining the everyday benefits that we all gain from woods and trees in our lives, for everyone, from Government to businesses, communities and individuals.

Sign the Tree Charter

Sign the Tree Charter

You can find out more and sign the new Charter at: treecharter.uk/sign


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Opening of Community Orchard

posted on March 24, 2017
Opening of the Wittenhams Community Orchard at the Sylva Wood Centre, 23 March 2017. Photo Jon Lewis, Oxford Mail.

Opening of the Wittenhams Community Orchard at the Sylva Wood Centre, 23 March 2017. Photo Jon Lewis, Oxford Mail.

This week the Wittenhams Community Orchard was formally opened by Oxfordshire’s High Sheriff Sarah Taylor.

High Sheriff Sarah Taylor and Sylva Foundation Gabriel Hemery at the opening of the Wittenhams Community Orchard at the Sylva Wood Centre, 23 March 2017

High Sheriff Sarah Taylor and Sylva Foundation CEO Gabriel Hemery at the opening of the Wittenhams Community Orchard at the Sylva Wood Centre, 23 March 2017. Photo Jon Lewis, Oxford Mail.

The spring showers cleared and the sun came out to shine on the assembled community of CropSharers, funders, neighbours, volunteers and all the children from Long Wittenham Primary School.

It’s been an exciting week in the orchard. On Tuesday the first three beehives arrived for our new Apiary enterprise which is kindly supported by the Rowse Family Trust. On Wednesday CEO Gabriel Hemery talked on Radio Oxford about the orchard and its power in bringing people and trees closer together (listen again from 1:08:30).

Our thanks to Sarah Taylor, High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, and all our supporters. The orchard has been funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery and the Naturesave Trust.

Installing first hives March 2017

Installing the first beehives in the Wittenhams Community Orchard, March 2017

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Chalara ash dieback workshop

posted on March 10, 2017

Grassington Town Hall, Grassington, Yorkshire
Thursday June 8th, 10am – 4pm

Ash dieback workshop

Ash dieback workshop

This free workshop will bring together managers of ash research sites, concerned land-owners and managers of woodlands experiencing or threatened by Chalara ash dieback. The aim is to share information and experience and to renew partnerships in ash genetics and tree improvement research.

Speakers at the workshop will be:

  • Dr Jo Clark (Earth Trust) – The Future Trees Trust ash improvement programme and the Living Ash Project.
  • Ted Wilson (Royal Forestry Society) – The biology of Hymenoscyphus fraxineus.
  • Dr Gabriel Hemery (Sylva Foundation) – Getting people involved! The AshTag citizen science project.
  • Ted Wilson (Royal Forestry Society) – Silviculture and management of ash – best practice advice for woodland managers.

After lunch, we will visit Grass Woods, a mature woodland owned by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust which has been badly affected by Chalara ash dieback.
Numbers are limited, so to reserve your place at this important event, contact Tim Rowland at Future Trees Trust on 07896 834518 or e-mail him at Tim.Rowland@futuretrees.org


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Forest Friends tree planting bonanza

posted on March 3, 2017

Last weekend we welcomed more than 50 families and hundreds of people to the Future Forest to plant trees in their sponsored plots.

The Forest Friends scheme has attracted support from far and wide, and it has been a privilege to meet all our new supporters and to hear their stories for why they chose to sponsor a plot in the Future Forest.

Following the busy weekend we welcomed a team of conservation volunteers from South & Vale District Councils who helped plant a large number of trees around the outside of the forest and along ride edges.

There are just 37 plots (each holding 25 trees) left to sponsor in the dynamic new Sylva Future Forest. Final planting session for Future Forest Friends will be on Saturday 11th March (or we can plant your plot for you). Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this wonderful project – become a Future Forest Friend today at www.sylva.org/forestfriend

Read more new about the Future Forest

 

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Phase 2 completed of British Woodlands Survey 2017

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Following a successful stakeholder workshop yesterday in Edinburgh, we have completed Phase 2 of the British Woodlands Survey.

The 40+ delegates from workshops held in Oxford, Grantham, Machynlleth and Edinburgh have worked together to prioritise the themes for the main survey, which will launch in June. They also identified priorities for each country, which we will use in the survey to question stakeholders about key issues of regional or country significance.

Summary results of the four workshops are shown in the graph below — it is interactive so hovering your mouse of the bars will reveal more information. Note that the two English workshops have been combined.

The top GB-wide theme was Societal Attitudes, followed by Climate Change Adaptation and Pests & Diseases. It is interesting to note how much contrast there was between some countries for certain themes; for example the low important attributed to Tree Planting in Wales, and Managing for Carbon in England. These results will help us in concentrating questions in the survey to fit with themes or priorities considered most important across GB and its countries.

 

We are very grateful to all the participants, hosts and funders for helping make these workshops so productive.


Read more at www.sylva.org.uk/bws or read previous news below:


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Helping shape the future of forestry

posted on February 17, 2017

This week we held our second of four workshops across Britain with stakeholders, helping set the main themes for the next British Woodlands Survey to launch in the summer.

BWS2017 Grantham workshop

BWS2017 Grantham workshop

BWS2017

Through a series of four stakeholder workshops we aim to shape the main ‘Themes’ of a survey which will be launched in June 2017. Each workshop builds on the outcomes of the last in an iterative process (see diagram below). The concept of identifying Themes is to ensure that the eventual survey questions focus on the most important issues of our time, as it is impractical to ask questions about every aspect of interest to all stakeholders. The Themes have arisen from previous research and workshops. Along with the GB-wide main Themes, we will allow Themes to emerge at each workshop which relate to country or regional issues.

This second workshop (the first being held in Oxford) was kindly hosted by the Woodland Trust. We welcomed several private woodland owners, plus representatives from Woodland Trust, National Forest and Tilhill. Colleagues from the Social & Economic Research Group at Forest Research are attending each workshop to assess the effectiveness of the approach adopted and to ensure academic rigour.

Next week we will holding our third workshop, this time at the Forestry Hub in Machynlleth, kindly hosted by Llais y Goedwig.

BWS2017 workshops - an iterative process

BWS2017 workshops – an iterative process


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Grown in Britain sponsors a grove in the Future Forest

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Grown in Britain (GIB) have generously supported the Sylva Future Forest by sponsoring a cluster of plots now known as the Grown in Britain grove.

GIB planting team

GIB planting team. Left to right John Weir (Forestry Commission England), Laura Sceal (GIB), Judith Millidge (Small Woodland Owners’ Group), Helen Bentley-Fox (GIB), Dougal Driver (GIB). Tom Barnes (Vastern Timber), Gabriel Hemery (Sylva Foundation), William Jackson (Certainly Wood), and Jen Hurst (Sylva Foundation). Behind the camera, Matt Larsen Daw (Woodland Trust).

Last Friday a team assembled by GIB got to work planting a wide selection of trees from our pallet of 40 species. In between the tree planting they enjoyed hot drinks, soup, tea cakes and marshmallows on the open fire, naturally burning GIB firewood (kindly provided by Certainly Wood). In fact they enjoyed planting so much that Tom Barnes (MD of Vastern Timber) generously sponsored an additional two plots (50 trees), which were planted after lunch.

Matt Larsen Daw, project lead for the Charter for Trees Woods and People helped ‘Show the Love’ for trees (see photo above). The Future Forest has been part-sponsored by the Woodland Trust and it is fitting that its creation is taking place during the year of the Tree Charter.


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