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

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

 

Category: Announcements

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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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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


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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.


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