Due to Covid-19, we have reduced personnel at the offices of the Sylva Foundation and our premises at the Sylva Wood Centre. Emails and phone messages are being checked but please allow a little longer than usual to receive a response.
Please do not arrange a formal visit without first checking with us. Members of the public are free to enjoy our network of permitted paths through the Future Forest as usual.

news

Jim Waterson Appointed Trustee

posted on December 1, 2020

We are delighted to welcome Jim Waterson MICFor MRICS as a trustee of the Sylva Foundation. Jim was appointed as a trustee at a board meeting held on 25th November 2020.

Talking about his appointment, Jim Waterson commented:

“I have the strong conviction that resilient trees, woods and forests are more important than ever at local, national and global levels. They have immense potential to improve lives, provide valuable goods and services and in meeting existing and future challenges that we all face. It is for all these reasons that I am so pleased to be joining the Sylva Foundation, as this unique organisation is transforming the industry through its innovative activities and leadership in sustainable forestry.”

Jim Waterson, Sylva Foundation trustee

Jim Waterson, Sylva Foundation trustee

After a degree at Wye College, University of London, Jim worked in New Zealand before returning to the UK to begin a career in sawmilling and forestry contracting, then moving into forest and land management in the private and voluntary sectors. He was able to enjoy challenging work roles and to develop some specialist capability in managing complex, multi-functional woodlands, in development and application of low-impact working methods and in meaningful and productive community engagement.

After twenty years in industry Jim joined Harper Adams University to teach forestry and forest products subjects to undergraduates. He also runs the postgraduate Forestry Management programmes, which he was responsible for developing from scratch some years ago.

His time in education has enabled him to build links with many within the forest and woodland sector and to have a role in introducing large numbers of young people to forestry and forest products. Some have gone on to develop successful and significant careers within the commercial, voluntary and state forest sectors and he says he is fortunate to be able to maintain contact with many of them.

Jim has just finished a term as a member of Council of the Institute of Chartered Foresters and chairing the ICF Professional, Education and Scientific Committee. He continues to sit on the Woodland Trust’s Conservation Advisory Group.

His particular interests are applied silviculture, woodland management for multiple products and outcomes and the development and support of viable wood and woodland-based enterprise. Jim also has an interest in direct seeding as an alternative means of forest and woodland establishment.

Jim’s interests and commitments outside of work are primarily centred on family, and until recently they have been managing a mixed wood on the English/Welsh border.

Read more about Sylva Foundation’s board of trustees

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Annual Report and Accounts 2019-20

posted on October 5, 2020

We have published our Trustee’s Report and Independent Accounts for the year 2019-20.

2019-20 at a glance:

  • deeply saddened by the death of one our founding trustees, Dr Peter Savill
  • appointed two new trustees, including our new Chair of Trustees, Sarah Taylor
  • supported a high-profile research paper on ash dieback, based on the work of our last Oxford-Sylva Graduate Scholar Dr Louise Hill
  • partnered with government to explore ways to make treescapes more resilient
  • completed a project aiming to make Forest Schools accessible to all children across Britain
  • launched a suite of resources to support ‘Fieldwork in the Forest‘ at secondary schools
  • with our online auction platform NatureBid, we helped support environmental outcomes with multiple partners, including natural flood management, reducing nitrate fertiliser usage, and supporting the Woodland Carbon Guarantee
  • myForest supported 6,000 woodland owners and managers caring for 100,000ha of woodland across Britain
  • won a contract Defra to develop a new online platform to support woodland creation in the Northern Forest, working in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust
  • supported 15+ small-medium enterprises working with wood at the Sylva Wood Centre
  • delivered training in woodworking to members of the public and schools at the Sylva Wood School
  • started work converting another large derelict building at the Sylva Wood Centre, including demonstration of novel thermally-modified hardwoods in its construction
  • worked with more than 100 volunteers to design and build an Anglo-Saxon house on our estate and welcomed HRH The Countess of Wessex to open it
Sylva Foundation Annual Report and Accounts 2020

Sylva Foundation Annual Report and Accounts 2020 – click to download

Financial Summary

Sylva Foundation funds 2019-20

Sylva Foundation funds 2019-20

Income

Income (£472,374) was 38% less compared to the last financial year (£766,420). 33% of total income was received in donations, the majority (67%) of which were restricted to specific activities. The majority of income for Charitable Activities (£220,362) came from performance-related grants (£69,380). Income from Trading Activities was £91,535, the majority of which was from business leases at the Sylva Wood Centre.

Expenditure and Additions
Total expenditure was £502,777 which included £253,775 investment (Additions) in ongoing capital building projects at the Sylva Wood Centre. Our overheads (excluding Additions), comprising income generation, admin, and governance, represented 25% of expenditure.

Funds

The charity’s funds were £1,794,617 at the end of the 2019-20 financial year. The majority (84%) of these were designated funds.

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Welcome to our new Forester

posted on July 6, 2020

We’re delighted to welcome George Dennison to Sylva as a new member of staff taking up the new role of Forester.

Thanks to grant funding provided by the John Ellerman Foundation the new position of Forester at Sylva will mean we have more capacity to work with landowners, forestry professionals, and partners to support sustainable forestry across Britain.

George Dennison, Forester at Sylva Foundation

George Dennison, Forester at Sylva Foundation

Appointee George Dennison graduated this summer from Bangor University with a Masters in Forestry with International Experience, including a year abroad at the University of British Columbia.

While studying George became a board member of the International Forestry Students’ Association where he was fortunate enough to travel to several countries exploring the world through forestry. Having worked as a part-time arboriculturalist and land manager between semesters, he is keen to begin putting theory and policy into practice across the UK in the years to come.


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Woodland Creation In the Making

posted on April 27, 2020

We’re delighted to announce the development of a major new project. Working in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust, the Sylva Foundation is delivering a Woodland Creation Test and Trial to support the development of Defra’s Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme.

Woodland Creation project

Woodland Creation project

Sylva Foundation is well-known for its innovative land-management platforms including the Woodland Manager tool in myForest (used by more than 6,000 owners and land managers), Woodland Wildlife Toolkit, Deer Manager, and the online auction platform NatureBid.

The two-year project is supported by a core partnership with the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust, while the approach being taken is to work closely with practitioners to co-design the tools and services of the new platform.

In the first year (2020) we are engaging with stakeholders within the Northern Forest, to co-design and then assess a range of innovative methods to provide greater knowledge and improved management of woodland creation for a wide range of stakeholders at different holding scales and across different landscapes. At the end of March we held an interactive online workshop with 27 stakeholders to start the co-design process.

The main outputs of the project will be the building and testing of a new IT platform to support stakeholders with mapping tools, and links to other decision support tools. We will also be developing a woodland creation plan.

During 2021 we will be refining and retesting outputs with stakeholders beyond the Northern Forest in a second tree planting season.

We have a new webpage for the Woodland Creation project which we’ll be updating regularly.

Creation project partners

Creation project partners


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Forester Wanted

posted on April 24, 2020

We are looking for an exceptional and early-career Forester

Job advert

Job advert

We are looking for a Forester to join our dynamic small team. The important role will focus on improving the support we provide to users of our services, including working on new developments, improving communication with users, and providing training. The successful applicant is likely to have a flair for communication, familiarity with technologies including GIS, and a passion for sustainable forest management. While based in south Oxfordshire, the work will take the candidate across Britain so a willingness to travel is essential. The role is likely to suit an early-career forester.

Apply online. CVs and letters will not be accepted.

Deadline for applications: Sunday 17th May

Full details and the online application can be found at www.sylva.org.uk/jobs

 

 

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Invitation to Tender to Supply Woodworking Machinery

posted on March 20, 2020

Sylva Foundation is seeking a suitably qualified supplier to supply, deliver and install/commission industrial woodworking machinery.

We are pleased to offer this as an open process for suitable suppliers to tender proposals. Deadline for submissions is 12 noon on 3rd April.

Specification summary:

  1. Surface Planer, with Spiral/Tersa Block minimum 500mm wide.Minimum 7 KW motor
  2. Thickness Planer, with Spiral/Tersa Block minimum 600mm wide,Sectional infeed roller,Rubber outfeed roller
  3. Panel Saw,with electronic control (rise/fall & tilt), Minimum 3m sliding table,Scoring unit
  4. Spindle moulder, with electronic control (rise/fall), with integrated Aigner fence,
  5. 3 roller power feed unit for spindle moulder
  6. Large Bandsaw, Minimum 500mm wheel diameter,Minimum 4HP motor
  7. Cross cut saw,400mm blade – 550mm travel,
  8. Rip Saw,500mm blade capacity

Delivery of all machinery to Sylva Foundation Wood Centre, Long Wittenham, Oxfordshire OX14 4QT.

Installation/commission of all machinery in the Sylva Foundation Wood School workshop, and induction/training into the installed machines.

Full details are available in the Tender Document

This opportunity has also been posted on the Government’s Contracts Finder Service

download tender specification (pdf)

download tender specification (pdf)

 

 

 

 

 

 


Background

Oxfordshire-based charity the Sylva Foundation launched its Wood School in 2019. Alongside a facility to support lifelong learning in wood craft for the public, its ambition is to provide skills training for aspiring woodworking professionals. While for some people this may be crafts-based, there is also a requirement to train workers in professional practice, to be capable of working within industrial manufacturing, requiring skills in using large-scale machinery and working under batch-production conditions. The next step in our project is to purchase a range of industrial wood manufacturing machinery and equipment for the Sylva Wood School that would complete existing investments in a building and personnel. The outputs of the programme will be a highly skilled workforce on a rolling basis to support local businesses, supporting the local economy. As an environmental charity, a key component of the business will be to support the use of sustainably-sourced timber, which in turn will stimulate the land-based economy and its environmental goods.


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Renovation of the old Grain Store

posted on March 9, 2020

Despite the wet winter we’ve been busy at the Sylva Wood Centre completing the renovation of our old Grain Store. We’ve just completed this timelapse film, taken over several months, which finishes with the fitting of innovative thermally-modified hardwood products, including cladding, windows, and a door. The Brimstone products were provided by Vastern Timber, in turn supported by a grant from the Forestry Commission.

Oxfordshire Leader

Oxfordshire Leader

EU agricultural fund for rural development

EU agricultural fund for rural development

The building is almost unrecognisable from its former state, clad in asbestos and fit only for storage. Most visitors are convinced it is a completely new build.

Our thanks to all those who’ve worked on the building, and to our funders Oxfordshire Leader.

 


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The Future of Furniture Craft Education

posted on December 4, 2019

Our Head of Wood School, Joseph Bray, writes about his recent experience completing a Churchill Fellowship exploring furniture education in the US and Scandinavia.

Joseph Bray's report for the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust: The Future of Furniture Craft Education

Download Joseph Bray’s report for the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust: The Future of Furniture Craft Education

This time last year I was returning from the first leg of my Churchill travelling fellowship where I visited a wide range of institutions offering high quality furniture education in the USA and Europe. I set out to explore how furniture craft skills were delivered and how these programmes supported graduates to bridge the gap between education and professional life. It was a truly inspirational experience that has taught me so much about the shared issues we face as well as some amazing examples of best practice.

My key recommendations are to:

  1. Establish inspirational opportunities for young people to experience making
  2. Integrate rigorous professional practice into craft education
  3. Stimulate collaboration locally, nationally and internationally

I started the fellowship while I was the programme leader of the Furniture Design and Make BA degree course at Rycotewood in Oxford and now I am heading up our growing Sylva Wood School. We have plans to offer a unique programme that aims to develop craft skills through commercial batch production, create a business development programme, and build on the success of our first summer school in collaboration with Grown in Britain. These activities are all aimed at helping to bridge the gap between education and the world beyond – I am very pleased to be able to put some of my findings into practice.

An important principle of a Churchill Fellowship is to share the findings with your community on your return. I have completed a report, ‘The future of furniture craft education’ and this is freely available and can be downloaded here.

Future of Furniture Craft Education: key recommendations

Future of Furniture Craft Education: key recommendations

 

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Announcing the death of our trustee Peter Savill

posted on November 28, 2019

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our long-standing trustee and great friend to Sylva Foundation, Dr Peter Savill.

Dr Peter Savill, formerly Chair of Trustees - Sylva Foundation

Dr Peter Savill, formerly Chair of Trustees – Sylva Foundation

Peter served as a trustee for the charity since its inception ten years ago, and was a great friend and professional colleague to all of us at Sylva. He had only recently stepped down as Chair of our Trustee board, after serving in that position for five years.

We will publish a full obituary in due course.

Chief Executive Dr Gabriel Hemery would welcome any messages from those who knew Peter. Please use the following form to do so:

https://forms.gle/UxkJwLAduSzMue3f7

 

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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

 


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