news

Sylva research influences policy and practice

posted on November 5, 2019

Our paper about financial cost of ash dieback, co-authored with former Oxford-Sylva scholar Louise Hill, continues to receive widespread political and popular interest.

£15 billion ash dieback costs paper

£15 billion ash dieback costs paper

In October it was cited by parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, whose MPs have called for a ‘citizens’ army’ to tackle biosecurity risks from invasive non-native species –  read the report. Subsequently it gained interest in the mainstream media (e.g. The Guardian).

Read our post from May:  Ash Dieback is Predicted to Cost £15 Billion in Britain

Read the full paper here:  www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(19)30331-8

Paper DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.03.033


About the Oxford-Sylva Scholarship

In 2010, Sylva Foundation managed to secure funding from a private donor to support forestry-related research. Following an approach to the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford, a partnership was agreed where the university was able to match this funding with a number of smaller funds it already held in hand. The result was a number of very capable graduate scholars. Sadly, Sylva has been unable to secure funding to continue this very fruitful relationship, but we always welcome enquiries from potential donors to continue this work. Please contact our CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery.

Read more about the Oxford-Sylva Graduate Scholarship

 


Comments (0)

Changes at the Top

posted on October 1, 2019

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Sarah Taylor as Chair of Trustees. At the same board meeting last month, Dr James Morison was appointed to the board.

Dr Peter Savill stepped down as Chair of Trustees after serving for five years. He will continue as a trustee, a position he has held since the formation of the charity.

James Morison, Sylva Foundation trustee

James Morison, Sylva Foundation trustee

Dr James Morison is a forest environmental scientist, leading research on understanding the impacts of, and the response to climate change of trees, forests and forestry at Forest Research, the research agency of the Forestry Commission. He has an academic background in ecology and plant physiology, with many years lecturing on environmental topics, particular on how plants grow, use water and respond to the environment. He has published more than 90 research papers and book chapters, as well as information, briefings and advice for forest managers and practitioners about adapting to climate change and the role of forests and forestry in mitigating climate change.

Talking of his appointment, James Morison commented:

“I am delighted to have joined Sylva Foundation’s board of trustees. The charity is making many valuable and innovative contributions to forestry, to developing a wood culture and to securing the place of woodlands in our landscape, supported by a firm grounding in science. Sylva is helping to tackle some of our greatest challenges, including the climate crisis and ensuring sustainable land management practice. I look forward to working with fellow trustees and the team during this dramatic period for our countryside and forestry’s place in it.”

Read more about Sylva Foundation’s trustees


Comments (0)

Ash dieback is predicted to cost £15 billion in Britain

posted on May 6, 2019

A research paper of considerable importance has been published today, which estimates the cost of ash dieback in Britain to be £15 billion. Sylva Foundation took a central role in the work, the research being led by Oxford-Sylva scholar Dr Louise Hill while she completed her DPhil at the University of Oxford under the Oxford-Sylva Graduate Scholarship programme (now sadly lapsed due to lack of funding). Sylva Foundation CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery acted as an external supervisor for Dr Hill, and is a co-author of the paper.


A team of researchers from the University of Oxford, Fera Science, Sylva Foundation and the Woodland Trust has calculated the true economic cost of Ash dieback – and the predictions, published today in Current Biology, are staggering:

  • The total cost of Ash dieback to the UK is estimated to be £15 billion
  • Half of this (£7 billion) will be over the next 10 years
  • The total cost is 50 times larger than the annual value of trade in live plants to and from Britain, which is the most important route by which invasive plant diseases enter the country
  • There are 47 other known tree pests and diseases that could arrive in Britain and which may cost an additional £1 billion or more

The predicted costs arise from clearing up dead and dying trees and in lost benefits provided by trees, e.g. water and air purification and carbon sequestration. The loss of these services is expected to be the biggest cost to society, while millions of ash trees also line Britain’s roads and urban areas, and clearing up dangerous trees will cost billions of pounds.

Dr Louise Hill, researcher at Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford and lead author of the study, said:

‘The numbers of invasive tree pests and diseases are increasing rapidly, and this is mostly driven by human activities, such as trade in live plants and climate change. Nobody has estimated the total cost of a tree disease before, and we were quite shocked at the magnitude of the cost to society. We estimate the total may be £15 billion – that’s a third more than the reported cost of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in 2001. The consequences of tree diseases for people really haven’t been fully appreciated before now.’

Dr Nick Atkinson, senior conservation advisor for the Woodland Trust and co-author of the paper, said:

‘When Ash dieback first entered the country, no one could have fully predicted the devastating impact it would have on our native habitats. To see how this has also affected our economy speaks volumes for how important tree health is, and that it needs to be taken very seriously. It is clear that to avoid further economic and ecological impacts, we need to invest more in plant biosecurity measures. This includes better detection, interception and prevention of other pests and diseases entering the country. We need to learn from past mistakes and make sure our countryside avoids yet another blow.’

The scientists say that the total cost could be reduced by replanting lost ash trees with other native trees, but curing or halting the disease is not possible. They advise that the government’s focus now has to be on preventing introductions of other non-native diseases to protect our remaining tree species.

Recommendations:

  • A nationwide replanting scheme could reduce the overall cost by £2.5 billion, by ensuring that lost ecosystem services are replaced
  • Greater focus on and investment in biosecurity and sourcing of safe plant material is needed to keep new diseases out
  • Introduce far tighter controls on imports of all live plants for planting, as this is the largest pathway through which tree diseases are introduced

Background:

Ash dieback is a fungal disease, originally from Asia, which is lethal to Europe’s native ash trees. It was first found in Britain in 2012 and is thought to have been brought to the UK years earlier on infected imported ash trees. It is expected to kill 95-99% of ash trees in Britain.

 

Read the full paper here:     www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(19)30331-8

Paper DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.03.033

 

ENDS

For more information or to request images, please contact the University of Oxford press office at ruth.abrahams@admin.ox.ac.uk or 01865 280730.

Or the Woodland Trust press office at HollieAnderson@woodlandtrust.org.uk or 01476 581121


Notes to editors

The University of Oxford has been placed number 1 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for the third year running, and at the heart of this success is its ground-breaking research and innovation. The university is world-famous for research excellence and home to some of the most talented people from across the globe. Their work helps the lives of millions, solving real-world problems through a huge network of partnerships and collaborations. The breadth and interdisciplinary nature of its research sparks imaginative and inventive insights and solutions.

Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity working to bring trees and people closer together. It formed the Oxford-Sylva Graduate Scholarship, which co-funded lead author Dr Louise Hill, to foster a robust tree and forest resource in the face of environmental change. It has played a lead role in developing a climate change action plan for Britain’s forests. www.sylva.org.uk

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife. The Trust has three key aims:  i) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable, ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life, iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife. Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares. Access to its woods is free.

Fera Science Limited, formerly the Food and Environment Research Agency, is a joint private/public sector venture between Capita plc and Defra. Using original thinking applied to support sustainable global food security our vision is to support our partners to respond to the challenges ahead through original thinking and world-class science. Fera turns expertise and innovation into ways to support and develop a sustainable food chain, a healthy natural environment, and to protect the global community from biological and chemical risks.

This work was partially funded by the Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs.


Comments (1)

Sylva Foundation celebrates ten years

posted on April 25, 2019

Ten years ago, in March 2009, Sylva Foundation was registered as a charity. Our small and dedicated team seems to be busier than ever, so we’re not celebrating in any major way, other than adding the dates to our logo during our tenth year.

Sylva Foundation 2009-2019

Sylva Foundation 2009-2019. Click to view full size version (large file)

We’re looking forward to the year ahead. Here are some of our planned activities for 2019:

  • Publish our report on the survey Bringing Children Closer to Nature (read more) and take more action to support outdoor learning across England
  • Complete further reverse auctions  (e.g. natural flood management in the Somerset Levels), to deliver innovative solutions for sustainable land management
  • Reconstruct the House of Wessex on our land with help from volunteers (read more and get involved)
  • Deliver a wide range of practical courses with our new Head of Wood School (read more and sign up)
  • Welcome hundreds of people to the Sylva Wood Centre during Oxfordshire Artweeks
  • Renovate another derelict farm building at the Sylva Wood Centre to support more business enterprise and innovation
  • Develop a mobile app for myForest
  • Deliver learning and support for sustainable woodland management
  • Support an Ash Summit for Oxfordshire

Thank you to all our friends and supporters who have worked with us over the last ten years. Here’s to a sustainable future!

Category: Announcements
Tags:

Comments (0)

Creating a marketplace for ecosystem services

posted on March 7, 2019

Over the last five years Sylva Foundation has been collaborating with departments at the University of Oxford to create a marketplace for ecosystem services. The Naturetrade project was funded by the EU’s Life programme. The project has now come to a close and the project consortium is keen to hear from current and potential users about the online marketplace. Please read on to find out more and how to take the survey.

Naturetrade homepage

Naturetrade homepage

We are now ready to test it on a wider audience of land managers and businesses with an interest in supporting sustainability. Your feedback on the mapping tool will be of help to us in developing ideas to take this forward from a demonstration project to a useable tool that will help supplement finance schemes aimed at preventing the loss of ecologically-diverse land in Europe.
We have prepared a very short survey that is split into two parts: (a) questions to establish what your relationship to land management in Europe is; and (b) feedback on the tool. We invite you to test the mapping capability of NaturEtrade and its potential to assess the ecosystem services of your land, or to test the possibility of finding land on the system that you can sponsor via a contract for maintaining ecosystem services. Two small caveats: we demonstrate how money can be exchanged via contracts to maintain ecosystem services, but no monetary transactions are being processed during this demonstration phase; and land parcels already published on the demonstration site are either taken directly from the UK Land Registry or have been hand-drawn in workshops. We do not own these properties.

Take part in the survey


Read more about Naturetrade

NaturEtrade is web-based mapping tool that demonstrates a novel approach to the problem of supporting environmentally-sensitive land stewardship practices in Europe. Land managers can easily and rapidly assess the ecosystem services provided by their land, and then “trade” these services in contracts with businesses who have an interest in supporting sustainable land management.

Land managers are very familiar with Government grants that help them conserve important biological and cultural features of their land, but very little is known about how non-Government incentive schemes might work in practice. This innovative project demonstrates how landowners and businesses in European countries can utilise the tools and technologies we have developed to trade in the commodity ‘ecosystem services’. In our project, the term ‘trade’ may be understood to mean ‘sponsor’ as no property changes hands, but a commitment to maintain the ecosystem services of land registered on NaturEtrade is set up by mutual agreement between two parties.

Working with stakeholders in four different European countries over the last five years, the project has developed a set of tools and technologies that bridges the gap between academic research and policy on ecosystem service provision. The project has been funded by the EU’s LIFE+ programme.

www.naturetrade.ox.ac.uk


Comments (0)

Sylva launches premium account for myForest

posted on January 14, 2019

A new premium account has been launched for Sylva’s flagship woodland management online software myForest. Users will have access to new tools, while income from regular subscriptions will help the charity invest further in the technology.

Since its launch in 2009, Sylva Foundation’s myForest web tool has been growing steadily, just like the woodlands it exists to support. The environmental charity has relied on word-of-mouth and a strong reputation for the increasing popularity of its online tools and resources supporting woodland management.

myForest is used by thousands of woodland owners, managers and educators, to map and manage more than 75,000ha of woodland across Britain. Its development has been supported in part by charitable trusts, government bodies, corporations, and individual donors. However, myForest requires regular funding to support maintenance and development, and the Sylva Foundation receives frequent requests for new features.

Behind the scenes, thanks to core support from The Dulverton Trust, the Sylva Foundation has been hard at work developing a range of additional premium-level tools which it now hopes some woodland owners and managers will opt to use. Paul Orsi from Sylva Foundation, who manages myForest, explained:

“We have introduced these additional tools in response to demands by users. We have kept the costs as low as possible, at only £24/year for a Woodland Owner account and £120/year for an Agent account. We hope that some owners, managers, and agents, will subscribe to a premium account. The income generated will support ongoing maintenance and allow us to invest further in the future of myForest.”

myForest feature table

myForest feature table

The most significant addition to the service, accessed via the new premium account, is access to digital mapping from the Ordnance Survey (note that additional costs apply dependent on usage). This is likely to be popular with those requiring maps for formal applications, or where existing aerial mapping imagery is poor.

myForest Woodland Manager showing OS background

myForest Woodland Manager showing OS background

With a myForest premium account you can now view data layers such as ancient woodland

With a myForest premium account you can now view data layers such as ancient woodland

A new measuring tool is just one of the new features we have added to myForest through a premium account

A new measuring tool is just one of the new features we have added to myForest through a premium account

Alongside OS mapping, various other options are on offer, including: advanced printing, overlaying of data layers such as ancient woodland boundaries, plus a range of reports such as summary reports for species and age-class distributions.

A myForest premium account allows you to download automatically generated reports for your woodland

A myForest premium account allows you to download automatically generated reports for your woodland

It is also possible to export a work programme to a spreadsheet so that it can be taken into the field or shared with others.

More features will be added to premium accounts over time and the charity will be developing a myForest mobile app by the end of the year.

www.myforest.org.uk


Comments (0)

Give an unusual gift this Christmas and support Sylva

posted on November 15, 2018

If you’re looking for a unique gift for someone special this Christmas, take a look at some unusual offers from Sylva Foundation. Read on to find out about our unique range of courses, an award-winning tree book available signed by the author, and some very special single-edition prints from the book.


Gift a course at the Sylva Wood Centre

Choose from Canoe paddle making, Green wood stool making, Guitar maintenance & repair, Pole lathe working, Saxon building woodwork, Treewrighting and Timber-framing, and Hurdle-Making. Courses will be supported by our brand new Teaching Barn, and overseen by our newly-appointed Head of Wood School.

Via our shop you can also purchase gift vouchers for courses which offer a substantial discount to someone special to use when they book their own course of choice.

See the full range of courses and details


Gift a signed copy of The New Sylva

The New Sylva book

The New Sylva – purchase the book from us and help support the charity

The New Sylva: a discourse of forest and orchard trees for the twenty-first century is a detailed and sumptuous celebration of trees and forests, by authors Gabriel Hemery (our Chief Executive) and Sarah Simblet (former Sylva Artist in Residence). Published by Bloomsbury in 2014, its 400 pages feature more than 100 tree species, accompanied by 200 specially commissioned pen and ink drawings.

Its pages contain not merely descriptions of the appearance of individual species. . . . It is a magisterial work that combines art and history with science. . . . The book is a stimulating read, and beautiful to look at.”
Jack Watkins, The Countryman.

“Gabriel Hemery’s text is a precise, fascinating, fluent, wide-ranging and hard-headed synthesis: an excellent popular introduction to tree biology and forestry. But the book is more than that . . . Hemery is out to celebrate and inspire passion and love . . .”
Caspar Henderson, Resurgence & Ecologist Magazine

  • Books of the Year, 2014. Mail on Sunday.
  • Winner, Trade Illustrated, British Book Design and Production Awards, 2014.
  • Premier Award, International Society of Typographic Designers.

All proceeds of sales via our online shop directly support our charitable work. Copies are signed by Gabriel Hemery, and a personal dedication can be added on request.


Purchase a single-edition print from The New Sylva

Print and certificate from The New Sylva single-edition offer

Print and certificate from The New Sylva single-edition offer

The New Sylva by Gabriel Hemery and Sarah Simblet – published to wide acclaim by Bloomsbury in 2014 – contains 200 stunning pen and ink drawings, including whole-tree portraits, botanical parts and forest scenes. They were drawn by internationally-renowned artist Sarah Simblet while she was artist-in-residence for environmental charity the Sylva Foundation. Just 14 remain available for sale.

Sarah Simblet rarely sells her work as prints. This represents a unique investment and a special opportunity for fans of her stunning drawings. Each print is signed by Sarah Simblet, and accompanied by an attractive Certificate of Authenticity, signed by both authors of The New Sylva.

Visit our online shop to see the available prints.


 

Category: Announcements
Tags: ,

Comments (0)

Sarah Taylor appointed trustee

posted on September 18, 2018
Sarah Taylor, Sylva Foundation trustee

Sarah Taylor, Sylva Foundation trustee

We are really pleased to announce the appointment of Sarah Taylor as a trustee of Sylva Foundation. Sarah brings a wealth of business and finance experience to the board, while possessing a deep passion for the British countryside.

Sarah was born in Baghdad and brought up in France. She was educated at the Lycée Molière, Paris; Wycombe Abbey; Marlborough College and Wadham College, Oxford, where she read biochemistry. In 1984 she married Bernard Taylor, CBE, DL; they have one son, Henry.

She spent 11 years working as a fund manager in the City of London, for Phillips and Drew, and UBS. After becoming involved in the centenary celebrations of Thame Community Hospital in 1997, she became Chairman of its League of Friends, a position she holds to this day.

Sarah is also a Visitor of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum (OBGA), Chairman of the Friends of OBGA, a Trustee of the Oxfordshire Victoria County History Trust, a Trustee of the Oxford Lieder Festival, and Vice Chairman of the Thames & Chilterns Branch of the Historic Houses Association. She was High Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 2016/17, during which she first got to know Sylva Foundation when she formally opened a Community Orchard at the Sylva Wood Centre.

In 2000, Bernard and Sarah acquired Rycote Park and spent five years restoring the house and park and establishing the farm’s herd of Aberdeen Angus and flock of Castlemilk Moorit sheep. Sarah‘s particular interests include gardening and music.

Read more about the Sylva Foundation trustee board

Category: Announcements
Tags:

Comments (0)

Head of Wood School appointed

posted on September 12, 2018

Our recently-appointed Head of Wood School, Joseph Bray, introduces himself and his new role with Sylva Foundation.

Joe Bray 2018

Joe Bray, Head of Wood School

I began my career in the furniture industry in 2000, as a designer and craftsman with Richard Williams.  My role progressed from junior craftsman to production coordinator giving me an introduction to the diversity of the industry whilst working on bespoke projects for private clients. Prior to this I studied furniture design and craftsmanship at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University and I went back to complete a masters in furniture design, graduating with distinction in 2010.  

At an early stage I knew I wanted to teach and, benefiting from a very supportive employer, I undertook some teacher training and worked at Rycotewood providing one-to-one woodwork for autistic young adults.  This valuable experience ultimately led me to make the transition between industry and education, taking up a full-time role as a teacher across the full range of programmes at Rycotewood.

Joseph Bray teaching a student

Joseph Bray teaching a student

In 2010, I took responsibility for course leadership of the Foundation degree and BA Hons programmes. I successfully led the validation of the degrees with two university partners; Bucks New University in 2010 and Oxford Brookes University in 2015.  Students and graduates have been incredibly successful, winning national awards, bursaries, and residencies.

My particular interest is in developing industrial partnerships leading to live projects, study trips, work experience, internships, and sponsorship for students.  Recent collaborations include live projects with AHEC (American Hardwood Export Council) exploring the characteristics of red oak, designing public seating for the RAF museum – London, as part of the 100-year anniversary, and live briefs with furniture manufacturers Ercol and William Hands.

My current research interest is to understand better how to upskill furniture graduates making them more employable – considering how to bridge the gap between education and professional life.  I have been successful in an application for funding and was announced as a Churchill Fellow in 2018. I will travel initially to USA in autumn visiting the Centre for Furniture Craftsmanship, North Bennett Street School, Rhode Island School of Design and Rochester Institute of Technology.  Further travel to prestigious European institutions will follow in spring 2019. A report will be published in 2019 sharing the knowledge gained and recommendations for improving the education system here in the UK.   

I am a member of the Society of Designer Craftsmen and have served on the council since 2008 – I am currently responsible for the production of their quarterly newsletter.  I am a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

I am passionate about making, and very excited to get stuck into my new role, with Sylva Foundation, which for the first year I will be taking up while also continuing part-time with Rycotewood. My main responsibility is the development of the new Sylva Wood School, and in time I will play a lead role in supporting the delivery of training and courses. I’ll also play a key part ensuring the development of the Sylva Wood Centre as a beacon for best practice.

www.sylva.org.uk/wood


Comments (2)

We’re hiring

posted on September 5, 2018

Web Software Developer (mid-level)

Join our dynamic and creative team, working in a stunning countryside location, providing cutting-edge software solutions to help protect and improve the natural environment.

As our Web Software Developer you will play an important role in the development of online tools that benefit the natural environment, for example by improving the conditions of woodlands and the planting of more trees across the country. You will develop and maintain databases and web applications that are central to our charitable activities, supporting positive environmental outcomes.

You will have a strong selection of skills and experience in the following essential requirements:

  • Knowledge / experience of the following web development languages: HTML/CSS/Sass, PHP, Node.js, MySQL / PostgreSQL / PostGIS, frontend Javascript, jQuery / Bootstrap
  • Knowledge and practical experience of source control and build tools. We use git and gulp.
  • A solid understanding of database design and data manipulation.

Location: South Oxfordshire

Position: Full-time or part-time. Flexible working hours, and some home-working, may be agreed.

Salary: £30-35,000 dependent on experience.

Full job specification available: https://sylva.org.uk/jobs

Category: Admin, Announcements
Tags:

Comments (0)
Older Posts »