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Martin Wood – engineer, philanthropist, and conservationist

posted on November 24, 2021

A joint statement by sister charities: Earth Trust, The Oxford Trust, and Sylva Foundation

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Sir Martin Wood (1927-2021).

Sir Martin Wood FRS in 2012

Sir Martin Wood FRS in 2012

Sir Martin and Lady Wood together founded our three sister charities. Each of us has a distinctive vocation, voice and vision, yet at our heart we inherited our founders’ generosity of spirit and innovative approach to getting things done for science, people and nature.

As a visionary engineer, Martin started Oxford Instruments with Audrey, developing and marketing the world’s first superconducting magnets. These were soon in great demand for scientific equipment, notably in the development of MRI scanning technology. As the business flourished, ultimately floating on the stock market, Martin and Audrey became prolific philanthropists, supporting business start-ups, scientific innovation, young people and the natural environment.

Martin and Audrey co-founded Earth Trust in 1982 (previously known as Northmoor Trust for Countryside Conservation) after years of appreciating the challenges faced by nature and the environment. From its earliest pioneering beginnings it has grown to be an advocate and demonstration of people connecting with the natural world. Earth Trust’s wildlife-rich green spaces include the iconic Wittenham Clumps and 500ha of farmland, woodland and wetlands, welcoming 200,000 visits each year. Its passion for quality and accessible green spaces is shared with and through events and engagement activities, award-winning volunteers and a thriving young people’s environmental education project.

Chief Executive of Earth Trust, Jayne Manley, commented:

“Martin’s love of the environment, his appreciation of the benefits of being close to nature and his desire to make it better for everyone have shaped Earth Trust into what it is today. Just as he pioneered in science, he wanted to support innovation in thought and action. Alongside this he understood that Earth Trust was a ‘start-up’ charity, bringing with it similar challenges to those faced by small businesses. He was much loved by staff, volunteers and visitors and will be missed enormously by all.”

In 1985, Martin and Audrey co-founded The Oxford Trust, creating Oxfordshire’s first innovation centre for science and technology start-ups. Hand-in-hand with business incubation, the trust has always supported young people and encouraged students to consider pursuing careers in STEM. The Oxford Trust owns the Oxford Centre for Innovation and opened the new the Wood Centre for Innovation in 2019. Together these centres help dozens of young tech companies get a head start. Though its Science Oxford programmes it reaches over 20,000 students, 600 teachers and hundreds of families across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire annually.

Chief Executive of The Oxford Trust, Steve Burgess, said:

“Martin’s passion for innovation and physics cannot be understated. Not only through his direct work on superconducting magnets which, via MRI scanners alone, effects millions of lives every year, but also supporting early-stage technology companies at a time when no one else had the vision to do this. With Audrey always at his side the duo has made an incredible impact on today’s entrepreneurial landscape and in science education. His legacy will be carried forward by The Oxford Trust.”

Sylva Foundation was co-founded by Martin with Dr Gabriel Hemery in 2009 aiming to nurture Britain’s wood culture. Its origins stem from a collaboration between the two while working closely together for 13 years to create a forestry science programme at the Northmoor Trust. Sylva Foundation combines many of the qualities of its sister charities, with a passion for the environment, business, and education. It has brought technical innovation to the forestry sector, where its online platforms are supporting 9,000 landowners and managers in caring for 140,000ha across Britain. When Martin and Audrey donated land and buildings at Long Wittenham to the charity, this led to the creation of the Wood Centre. The foundation supports 25 woodworking business and delivers an education programme supporting employability and promoting the use of home-grown timber.

Chief Executive of Sylva Foundation, Gabriel Hemery, commented:

“Martin’s friendship and leadership transformed my life, professionally and personally, and consequently the lives of the entire Sylva team, the thousands of people we work with, and the tens of thousands of hectares of woodland we help care for across Britain. On my office wall hangs a framed note from Martin that I found waiting on my desk on the first day we started working on the idea of founding a new charity: ‘Greetings, a great day – we’re going to change the face of forestry in the British Isles!’ In a few words, this perfectly captures Martin’s unparalleled vision, philanthropy, and humanity.”

Our thoughts and love are with Martin’s widow, Audrey, and the Wood family.


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The new Sylva Friends scheme

posted on November 17, 2021

We are very excited to launch the new Sylva Friends scheme.

Sylva Friends

Join the Sylva Friends

The Sylva Friends scheme is for anyone who shares our vision for a society that cares for nature while living in harmony with it. We hope you may be interested in becoming a Sylva Friend because you love what we do and how we do it.

By joining the Sylva Friends, you will genuinely become a friend of our dynamic small charity. Your collaborative support will help us make a meaningful difference in this world. Together, we will nurture a stronger wood culture, and grow an even better future.

We will spend your money on delivering our charitable mission, not on cheap giveaways or expensive membership magazines. That doesn’t mean you’ll never receive nothing in return! Sylva Friends will receive a regular enews offering unique insights into our work, a discount on items in our shop, early-bird opportunities to events, and more.

We offer Friends membership options for individuals, families, and corporates. You can choose whether to pay monthly, annually, or even to become a lifetime Sylva Friend. You can even gift a Friends membership to someone special as an unusual, but meaningful gift.

Visit our new Friends page to find out more. We hope we can welcome you soon!

Sylva Friends

Read more about the Sylva Friends scheme


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Free Advice for Woodland Owners

posted on November 23, 2021

If you own an area of woodland in the south-east region of England, you could benefit from free one-to-one professional forestry advice.

woodland advice

woodland advice

Landowners are increasingly aware of the threats from climate change, pests and diseases, but are also aware of opportunities to provide services from woodlands they manage, such as carbon sequestration and water management. In future, grant payments or other types of support are likely to be available only to those with an approved woodland management plan.

Thanks to innovation funding provided by the Forestry Commission, the environmental and forestry charity Sylva Foundation is collaborating with a group of forestry agents in the Forestry Canopy Foundation to offer free support to 50 landowners across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, East Sussex, and West Sussex. To be eligible, the woodland site (0.5ha or larger) must be without a management plan that is compliant with the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS).

  • You will receive support in completing a self-assessment of the current state of management in the woodland.
  • You will receive a free consultation with a professional forestry agent to help you meet your objectives.
  • The consultation will set you on a path to completing a UKFS-compliant woodland management plan.

Landowners interested in this generous advice package are encouraged to express their interest without delay, using this online form. To discuss this offer please contact George Dennison at george.d@sylva.org.uk or 07972 216529.

The application window is open until end of February 2022, but will close when all 50 places have been allotted.


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The New Sylva returns

posted on November 16, 2021

After selling out early in 2021, we are delighted to announce that The New Sylva is back in print in a new format, with signed copies available in our online shop. The book was co-authored by our CEO Gabriel Hemery as a way of promoting the Sylva Foundation and raising funds towards our activities.

The New Sylva is a detailed and sumptuous celebration of trees and forests, by authors Gabriel Hemery and Sarah Simblet. First published by Bloomsbury in 2014, the 400 pages of The New Sylva features more than 100 tree species, accompanied by 200 specially commissioned pen and ink drawings. This new 2021 Edition is a slightly smaller format of the award-winning book, and the layout is identical to the 2014 original, it is now available to enjoy at half the price. This would make a perfect Christmas gift for the nature lover in your life, and help support Sylva Foundation’s activities!

The original (now ‘deluxe’) edition with the red spine is still out of print but coming spring 2022.

The New Sylva (2021 edition)

The New Sylva (2021 edition)

Visit our shop to order your signed copy (books will be signed by lead author Gabriel Hemery).

The New Sylva 2021 end papers

The New Sylva 2021 end papers – now include a beautiful printed Ex Libris box


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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.


Read more


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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)

Category: Announcements

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