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Rising from the ashes

posted on February 19, 2018

Guest blog by Sylva Scholar, Louise Hill

We congratulate Louise Hill on successfully defending her DPhil at the University of Oxford. Louise is the third (and sadly final) Oxford-Sylva scholar. Over the last four years she has been researching the impacts of ash dieback. Here Louise describes in her own words what she has achieved, and what our support has meant to her personally.  Well done Louise!

It’s been a long road to get here, but four and a half years after starting I have finally finished my DPhil. As the Sylva Scholar, I have been extremely privileged to complete my project at the University of Oxford, with opportunities to meet top scientists, speak at international conferences, and produce the best research that I am capable of.

Louise Hill in Wytham Woods. Photo John Cairns

Louise Hill, Sylva scholar, in Wytham Woods. Photo John Cairns

My research project looked at various different aspects of the ash dieback outbreak in Britain. This disease is one of the most important contemporary challenges to the health of our woods and trees. An invasive fungal pathogen (Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus) [Ed. formerly known as Chalara fraxinea], it threatens the future of common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) as a dominant tree in Britain. The impacts of this loss will be widespread: over the coming decades we are likely to see significant impacts on the health of woodland and non-woodland ecosystems, on associated biodiversity, and on human health and wellbeing as the benefits of ash trees to society are lost.

My project was broad and investigated impacts in many of these areas.

  • I carried out experimental work to clarify the impacts of ash loss on woodland ground flora and invertebrate communities.
  • I modelled the distributions of trees and their associated traits and functions (with a paper published in Ecology and Evolution: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ece3.2661/full). This allowed me to investigate the areas and ecosystem types most vulnerable ash loss, and to develop management guidance to help mitigate this loss (paper in review).
  • In my final year, I investigated the economic impacts, an ambitious project which I am now developing further with collaborators at the Woodland Trust and Fera, and which we hope will produce a high-impact publication with political significance.
Hill et al Ecology&Evolution

Hill et al. (2007) Ecology&Evolution

It’s been a lot of hard work, but I have come away with something I feel really proud of: a project that I could make fully my own, that I believe has contributed to both the scientific understanding of the disease and to practical measures to reduce its harm.

None of this would have been possible without support and input from the Sylva Foundation: the scholarship gave me a fantastic opportunity, and I have tried my best to make the most of it. This experience culminated a couple of weeks ago in an invitation to attend a Plant Health and Biosecurity conference at Highgrove, contributing directly to ideas for future policy.

I hope in the future I can carry on working on research in tree diseases in the future, as this project has given me a real drive to continue in this important area.

Louise Hill

[Note from Ed: Louise Hill’s thesis will soon be available online. We will publish a link as soon as possible.]


More about the Sylva Scholarship

Sadly Louise is our third and final Oxford-Sylva Graduate Scholar, as we have been unsuccessful in fundraising sufficiently to appoint a new student.

Read more stories from our Sylva Scholars


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Farewell to Paul Sellers

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Last week we said farewell to Paul Sellers and the team at Rokesmith, who have built up an incredibly successful business over the last two years.

Paul Sellers and his son Joseph moved into a small unit at the Sylva Wood Centre two years ago. During their time with us they took on several new staff members, and the company expanded their online tutorials, published a book, and offered several woodworking classes at the centre. We were delighted to include a talk from Paul in our inaugural WoodWords event in 2016, while the company sponsored a number of plots in the Future Forest.

In a generous gesture, the team have made a short film to reflect upon their time with us at the Sylva Wood Centre, featuring interviews with a number of the craftspeople. We wish Paul and his team every success in their new larger unit, just a few miles away, and look forward to future collaborations.

 


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Introduction to Woodcarving course

posted on February 16, 2018

Introduction to Woodcarving course

Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd June 2018

 

A two-day workshop for woodcarving newcomers and those with some experience who would like to develop their skills.

Vine carving in progress Simon Clements

Vine carving in progress, Simon Clements

The ‘Fruit of the Vine’ has long been a favourite motif for carvers both in stone and in wood. Using stencils students will learn how to mark out and carve a simplified design of vine leaves and grapes in lime wood.

Students will learn:

  • How to transfer a drawn design to a block of wood
  • How to mount their work for carving
  • How to clamp and hold the work piece securely
  • How to use the appropriate chisel or gouge for each stage of the carving
  • How to use a carver’s mallet
  • Students will learn to overcut the surface and background, and how to undercut the finished design.

Cost: £225 per person (all materials and tools provided). Please bring your own packed lunch.

Venue: Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor: Simon Clements, Wood carver

book-now

Book your place

 


About the tutor

Sculptor Simon Clements standing next to the Charter Pole at the Sylva Wood Centre

Simon Clements

Simon Clements is came to woodcarving after a career which included teaching art, sculpture and pottery, working as a mast spar and oar maker for an Oxfordshire company and restoring heritage carving.

He now works from his workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre, carving sculptural pieces for architects, interior designers, private clients, and for exhibitions. Sculptural work ranges from table-top sculpture to kinetic garden pieces. He is currently half-way through 11 very large commemorative carved poles for the Woodland Trust as part of the Tree Charter.

www.simonclements.info


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Spoon whittling course

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11th and 12th May 2018

Come along to learn and improve your whittling skills with this two-day course introducing students to using curved (hook) knives and straight carving knives, and go home with your own hand-crafted wooden spoon.

spoon whittling with Simon Clements

spoon whittling with Simon Clements

Wooden spoon blanks will be provided; there will also be an opportunity for students to make a straight or curved knife to add to their toolkit, and to discuss the relative merits of penknife shapes for whittling.

Carving will be done in the lap and in the hand, and will concentrate on developing woodland carving skills without the need for green woodworking tools such as axes and froes.

Bring along your favourite penknife or whittling tool for advice on sharpening and usefulness.

This will be a two-day course on a Friday and Saturday. Please bring a pack lunch for both days, coffee, tea and snacks will be provided

Students will learn:

  • To attach handles to carving knives
  • Sharpen their tools
  • Design a wooden spoon from a plain wooden blank
  • Carve and shape a wooden spoon and spoon bowl using carving knives of various shapes
  • Hold work in the lap in a safe manner for carving
  • How to use a variety of cutting actions in a safe manner
  • Will be given advice about simple protective measures to prevent minor cuts and injuries.

If the weather is good perhaps we may carve outside in the Forest School shelter, or inside if the weather is less clement. Places available for a maximum of 10 students.

Cost: £225 per person (all materials and tools provided). Please bring your own packed lunch.

Venue: Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Dates: 11th and 12th May 2018

Tutor: Simon Clements, Wood carver

book-now

Book your place

 


About the tutor

Sculptor Simon Clements standing next to the Charter Pole at the Sylva Wood Centre

Simon Clements

Simon Clements is came to woodcarving after a career which included teaching art, sculpture and pottery, working as a mast spar and oar maker for an Oxfordshire company and restoring heritage carving.

He now works from his workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre, carving sculptural pieces for architects, interior designers, private clients, and for exhibitions. Sculptural work ranges from table-top sculpture to kinetic garden pieces. He is currently half-way through 11 very large commemorative carved poles for the Woodland Trust as part of the Tree Charter.

www.simonclements.info


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GIS course – management planning using myForest

posted on February 15, 2018

The Royal Forestry Society has announced further courses in its excellent line up for woodland owners, managers and others, including a GIS course using Sylva Foundation’s myForest.

Friday, 19 October 2018

myForest service

myForest service

myForest is a free to use online web tool (www.myforest.org.uk) designed to help woodland owners and managers produce management plans. The system allows users to map their woodlands, add information (including inventory and work programme) and produce management plans using Forestry Commission England’s template.

Course leader Paul Orsi (Director for Forestry at Sylva Foundation) will take participants through the whole management planning process, from a woodland survey through to producing management plans which can be approved by a Forestry Commission Woodland Officer. Participants will learn how to create a myForest account, map a woodland area, add attribute data, and generate a management plan and associated maps. We will look at what is required from a good management plan and how myForest can help you with this.

This course is aimed at owners of small woodlands who are keen to learn how to create their own management plan.

For more information on the course and how to book, click here

 


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Green wood stool course 27Oct2018

posted on February 14, 2018

Following the sell-out success of this course last time, we are pleased to offer a new one-day course: learn how to make a green wood stool. Working with green wood using simple hand tools, by the end of the day you will make a ‘basic’ three-legged stool under the expert tuition of green woodworker Peter Wood.

Green stool making course at Sylva Wood Centre

Green stool making course at Sylva Wood Centre

Course date: 27th October 2018, 9.30am – 4.00pm

  • Learn about different tree species and understand why different woods are suitable for different tasks, how growth effects its use, and look at wood suitable for cleaving.
  • Learn how to cleave wood.
  • Learn basic axe work to rough shape the stool legs.
  • Use a shaving horse, drawknives and spokeshaves to shape three stool legs.
  • Shape a simple stool seat using planes, inshaves, travishers and spokeshaves.
  • There will also be a pole lathe for participants to ‘have a go’ at turning as time allows.

Cost: £125 per person

Venue: Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor: Peter Wood, Founder of Greenwood Days www.greenwooddays.co.uk

book-now

book-now

Book your place

 


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Make a canoe paddle course 8th June 2018

posted on

Make a canoe paddle

8th and 9th June 2018

9.00am to 5.00pm

During this two-day course with award-winning boat builder Colin Henwood, you will learn how to shape a single canoe paddle from Ash using hand tools.

“I can’t think of anything that could have improved a perfect couple of days – I will signing up for another one soon.”
Student on Paddle making course, January 2018.

Colin was fantastic; his attention to detail and support ensured we all left with a paddle I think even he was happy with!
Student on Paddle making course, January 2018.

Make your own canoe paddle at the Wood Centre

Make your own canoe paddle at the Wood Centre

  • Working with ash – our superior native hardwood.
  • Using traditional skills and tools you will produce a complex shape with hand and eye.
  • Learn how to finish your smooth and elegant design.
  • Take home a unique and usable canoe paddle ready for a varnish or an oil finish.
  • Tools and materials included (if you wish to bring your own tools please discuss this with the tutor).

Cost: £225 per person (materials included)

Venue: Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor: Colin Henwood

book-now

Book your place

 


About the tutor

Colin Henwood founded his boatyard, Henwood and Dean Boatbuilders, in 1982 specialising in restoring and building wooden Thames launches. The boatyard received many awards in the UK and abroad, and in 2014 Colin was awarded Maker of the Year by the Heritage Crafts Association. In October 2016 Colin handed the boatyard over to two of his team who are successfully continuing the tradition he began 35 years ago. Not one to retire, Colin has established a workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre where he is currently re-building a 1920 Thames motor canoe.

Colin Henwood with students making a canoe paddle at the Sylva Wood Centre

Colin Henwood with students making a canoe paddle at the Sylva Wood Centre


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Forestry Yard opens at Sylva Wood Centre

posted on January 29, 2018

Sylva Foundation is delighted to announce the opening of the Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre. The Forestry Yard will be occupied and run by Face North Forestry, a local and expanding forestry contracting company.

The Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre

The Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre, with Nick Keighley of Face North Forestry

The Sylva Wood Centre is a growing hub of wood-using businesses: currently 13 wood-based businesses operate from the site; from boat builders, to woodcarvers and fine furniture makers. The focus of the Sylva Wood Centre is to support the growth of wood-based businesses and in particular the use of home-grown timber. The addition of the Forestry Yard will help the Sylva Wood Centre to achieve this last goal, shortening the supply chain between woodland and end use.

Nick Keighley - Face North Forestry

Nick Keighley – Face North Forestry

Thanks to a Countryside Productivity Grant, Face North Forestry purchased a new mobile sawmill. This will allow the business to select timber to be milled, which may have previously been used for firewood, adding value and locking up carbon for the long term. This timber will be available for use by the businesses at the Sylva Wood Centre; in fact Face North Forestry are already collaborating with two of the businesses.

Meanwhile, the new forestry building was part-supported by a capital grant to Sylva Foundation from LEADER, whose funds are distributed by the Oxfordshire Leader Action Group (LAG) made up of representatives from local trusts, organisations and district councils. The LAG is chaired by South Oxfordshire district councillor Elizabeth Gillespie, who said:

“Our group visited the forestry yard and we were all impressed to see how the funds are supporting the local environment and small wood businesses based at the Sylva Wood Centre.”

Nick Keighley of Face North Forestry said:

“Moving into the Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre will allow me to grow my business. I have always been frustrated by good quality timber not being used to its full potential, but local supply chains have been decimated over the last few decades with the closure of many small sawmills. The yard will allow me to add value to the timber I fell, while being based at the Sylva Wood Centre means there is a readymade customer base for my products”

Paul Orsi, Director for Forestry at Sylva Foundation said:

“The addition of the Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre is crucial to seeing more local timber being used by the businesses we support. The development of the Forestry Yard was supported by a LEADER grant which was vital to allow us to take this project forward”

More information: www.sylva.org.uk/wood


£1.55 million available to boost rural areas in the county

Grants of up to £100,000 are available to community groups, small businesses farmers and foresters for projects that support the rural economy.

The Oxfordshire LEADER fund aims to support a wide range of activities in the countryside such as assisting local small businesses, supporting local heritage and cultural events, attracting tourism and visitors increasing foresters and farmer’s productivity and helping to diversify services.

Contributions are available for capital costs such as building work, equipment and for projects located in the Oxfordshire LEADER area until September this year.

Oxfordshire LEADER is welcoming expressions of interest for support until September this year and all funds will be allocated by March 2019.  For further information on the programme and criteria for funding, visit the website http://www.oxfordshireleader.org.uk

If your project is eligible, you can contact Sophie, programme manager, on 01235 422245 or email Oxfordshire.leader@southandvale.gov.uk for further guidance.


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Courses available at the Sylva Wood Centre

posted on

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve held two very successful courses at the Sylva Wood Centre. Some places are still available on other courses this spring.

Tutor Colin Henwood with students during the canoe paddle making course

Tutor Colin Henwood with students during the canoe paddle making course

Greenwoodworker Peter Wood took eight students through their paces during a one-day course, with all students returning home with a handy greenwood stool. Master boatbuilder Colin Henwood helped students dip their proverbial toes in the water by crafting a canoe paddle from ash over two days.

We have four further courses listed with various spaces still available.

Book soon to avoid disappointment:

Pole lathe workshop 17th February

Guitar maintenance and repair 3rd March

Introduction to wood carving 17th March

Greenwood DIY for Women 5th May

 

Courses at the Sylva Wood Centre

 

Steve Kendall luthier

Steve Kendall luthier

Category: Courses, Sylva Wood Centre
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Introduction to woodcarving course

posted on December 7, 2017

Introduction to Woodcarving course

Saturday 17th March 2018: 9am to 5pm

 

A one-day workshop for woodcarving newcomers and those with some experience who would like to develop their skills.

 

Vine carving in progress Simon Clements

Vine carving in progress, Simon Clements

The ‘Fruit of the Vine’ has long been a favourite motif for carvers both in stone and in wood. Using stencils students will learn how to mark out and carve a simplified design of vine leaves and grapes in lime wood.

Students will learn:

  • How to transfer a drawn design to a block of wood
  • How to mount their work for carving
  • How to clamp and hold the work piece securely
  • How to use the appropriate chisel or gouge for each stage of the carving
  • How to use a carver’s mallet
  • Students will learn to overcut the surface and background, and how to undercut the finished design.

Cost: £100 per person (all materials and tools provided). Please bring your own packed lunch.

Venue: Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor: Simon Clements, Wood carver

book-now

Book your place

 


About the tutor

Sculptor Simon Clements standing next to the Charter Pole at the Sylva Wood Centre

Simon Clements

Simon Clements is came to woodcarving after a career which included teaching art, sculpture and pottery, working as a mast spar and oar maker for an Oxfordshire company and restoring heritage carving.

He now works from his workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre, carving sculptural pieces for architects, interior designers, private clients, and for exhibitions. Sculptural work ranges from table-top sculpture to kinetic garden pieces. He is currently half-way through 11 very large commemorative carved poles for the Woodland Trust as part of the Tree Charter.

www.simonclements.info


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