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Make a canoe paddle course 8th June 2018

posted on February 14, 2018

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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Last remaining forest plots available to sponsor

posted on November 21, 2017

There are just SIX plots left to plant in the Future Forest – sponsor one now and you can help plant it before Christmas.

By becoming a Friend of the Sylva Future Forest your support will help us plant and maintain one of 325 plots – each measuring 10 x 10m and containing 25 trees.

Forest Friends tree planting

Forest Friends tree planting

You can support the Future Forest by:

  • donating £5/month for three years OR
  • dedicating a plot as a wonderful unique gift for a new baby, a wedding, a special birthday, or in memory of a loved one – £180 one-off payment.

Find out more


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Growing Forests of Opportunity & Innovation

posted on November 20, 2017

A beautiful oak sculpture — one of 11 to be located across the UK — was unveiled at the Sylva Wood Centre in Oxfordshire on 18th November to celebrate the new Charter for Trees, Woods and People.

Unveiling the Charter Pole at Sylva Wood Centre

Unveiling the Charter Pole at the Sylva Wood Centre

2017 has been a momentous year for our trees with the launch of a new Charter for Trees, Woods and People on 6th November. Launched to coincide with the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest, it comes at a time when our trees and woodlands are threatened by pests and land-use change, while society is ever more aware of how important trees are to life on Earth.

Oxfordshire-based environmental charity Sylva Foundation has been active at the heart of the national campaign leading up to the launch of the new Charter for Trees, Woods and People. It helped gather stories from hundreds of woodland owners across the country, and hosted the creation of a collection of sculptures to commemorate the moment. At the Sylva Wood Centre in south Oxfordshire, one of its resident craftspeople, sculptor Simon Clements, was commissioned by the Woodland Trust to create 11 ‘Charter Poles’.

Each sculpture or ‘Charter Pole’ features one of the 10 Charter principles, and will be unveiled in locations across the UK, from Edinburgh, Belfast, and Cardiff, to Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool. The 11th and ‘Champion’ pole was at the centre of the launch celebrations held at Lincoln Castle on 6th November.

On Saturday 18th November one of the Charter Poles was unveiled at the Sylva Wood Centre. The pole represents Growing Forests of Opportunity & Innovation, which is fitting given the work undertaken by Sylva Foundation and its hosted craftspeople. It was made from the giant stem of an oak tree donated by the Crown Estates and supplied via Grown in Britain. Its design depicts sawn timber boards with sticks placed between them, in the way that a freshly-sawn trunk is processed to allow the boards to air-dry before being used by craftspeople. Words from a poem written by Harriet Fraser are carved in a wooden ribbon which wraps around the 15 foot (3m) sculpture:

to see the wood within the trees
and nurture both
is art and science

life cycling through earth, light and hands
a tender turning: work and beauty,
legacies growing

Before the unveiling the sculpture was hidden under a silk ‘canopy’ made by local artist Jezella Pigott with help of local schoolchildren. The schools involved were Long Wittenham CofE primary School, and Willowcroft Community School in Didcot. The canopy was unwrapped by Woodland Trust CEO Beccy Speight, with the help of the children, to reveal the Charter Pole for the first time.

Gabriel Hemery, Sylva Foundation CEO, commented:

“It’s been wonderful to watch sculptor Simon Clements at work over many months here at the Sylva Wood Centre, and we hope that many people will come along and watch the unveiling of this stunning oak sculpture.”

“The Woodland Trust have been an inspiration to all of us involved with trees and forestry in leading the creation of the Tree Charter, and we’ve benefited massively from their support in being able to celebrate its launch here in Oxfordshire.”

Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust CEO said:

“Following involvement from over 70 organisations, more than 100,000 members of the public and at least 300 community groups the Charter’s 10 guiding principles redefine the relationship people in the UK have with trees and woods. We’re delighted that Sylva is the location for the Utility and Livelihoods pole. The Charter’s ambition was and is to place trees and woods at the centre of national decision making, and back at the heart of our lives and communities. The new charter will redefine the relationship with people and trees in the UK for present and future generations, providing guidance and inspiration for policy, practice and attitude, across Government, businesses, communities and individuals.”

 

 

 


The Charter for Trees, Woods and People

In 1217, two years after the Magna Carta was signed by King John, his heir Henry III signed the Charter of the Forest. The aim of this document was to protect the rights of people to access and use the Royal Forests. The Charter of the Forest provides a window to a time in history when access to woods was integral to the life. Being denied access for grazing livestock, collecting firewood and foraging for food was a real concern for the people of the time.

More than 70 organisations from across multiple sectors have joined forces to create a new Charter for Trees, Woods and People that will guide policy and practice in the UK. We believe the people of the UK have a right to the many benefits brought by trees and woods. The new Tree Charter was launched on 6 November 2017, to recognise, celebrate and protect this right.

www.treecharter.uk

 

 


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A new Charter for Trees, Woods and People

posted on November 10, 2017

Sylva Foundation has been very proud to support the creation of the newly launched Charter for Trees, Woods and People.

“Natural treasures, in roots, wood and leaves, for beauty, for use, the air that we breathe. Imagine: a wood starts with one small seed. We’re stronger together – people and trees.”
Harriet Fraser, 2017

The Charter for Trees, Woods and People sets out the principles for a society in which people and trees can stand stronger together. The Tree Charter was launched in Lincoln Castle on 6 November 2017; the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest. The Tree Charter is rooted in more than 60,000 ‘tree stories’ gathered from people of all backgrounds across the UK.


Sylva Foundation Chief Executive provided a short talk at the launch ceremony at Lincoln, celebrating the charity’s involvement. Over the last two years we have collected stories from hundreds of woodland owners, fed into various sections of the Charter’s content, and hosted the creation of the Charter Pole sculptures at the Sylva Wood Centre. We will be unveiling our own Charter Pole on 18th November at the Sylva Wood Centre as part of our Winter Festival for Trees, Woods and People.

Previous posts about the Tree Charter

Visit the Tree Charter website

Category: Announcements
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Shapes of Trees – an evening of music

posted on November 9, 2017

Tickets are still available for The Shapes of Trees event – an evening of music at the Sylva Wood Centre on 16th November. The event is part of our Winter Festival of Trees, Woods and People which is promoting the launch of the ‘Tree Charter’.

Event profits to Sylva Foundation. Read more and purchase tickets

Shapes of Trees - 16th November 2017

Shapes of Trees – 16th November 2017

WOOD FESTIVAL & SYLVA FOUNDATION present

an evening of music inspired by Trees, Woods and People

featuring

DANNY GEORGE WILSON

JACKIE OATES & MEGAN HENWOOD

ROBIN BENNETT (The Dreaming Spires, Wood Festival)

with readings from FIONA STAFFORD

and photography by GABRIEL HEMERY

THURSDAY 16th November, 7.30-11pm

at the Sylva WOOD centre, Little Wittenham

Tickets £12.50 advance.

Licensed bar.

Event profits to the Sylva Foundation.

Read more and purchase tickets


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See us on BBC Countryfile this weekend

posted on November 2, 2017
BBC One Countryfile

Watch us on BBC One Countryfile

We’re looking forward to seeing the Sylva Wood Centre on BBC Countryfile this Sunday evening.

The programme team visited us, with presenter Matt Baker, to see sculptor Simon Clements at work on the Tree Charter Poles (read more), Nick Keighley’s mobile sawmill in action, and local school students enjoying a Forest School session in young woodland in the Future Forest and woodland on the Earth Trust’s neighbouring land.

The programme will be broadcast on 5th November at 6.15pm on BBC One. You will be able watch the programme online here

Willowcroft Community School children with Matt Baker for BBC Countryfile

Willowcroft Community School children with Matt Baker for BBC Countryfile

 

 


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Charter poles emerge from the Sylva Wood Centre

posted on October 30, 2017

The new Charter for Trees, Woods and People will launch on 6th November — the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest. Sylva Foundation has been a keen supporter of this Woodland Trust-led initiative. Last year we collected stories from hundreds of woodland owners (read more), and behind the scenes we’ve been lending our weight to help make this national celebration of trees a success. We’ve also been quietly busy at the Sylva Wood Centre, helping one of the main celebratory moments come to life in the form of 11 dramatic sculptures.

The Tree Charter Poles are being carved from 15′ oak logs by Sylva Wood Centre-based sculptor Simon Clements. Each of the sculptures represents one of the ten principles from the new Charter, while the eleventh, known as the ‘Champion Pole’, represents the Charter as a whole. The logs were donated by Crown Estates and procured by Grown in Britain.

Simon takes over the story . . .

A 15 foot oak log is quite a thing to have delivered to your door; there is no chance of missing it.  So 11 of them represent a serious log pile and that makes starting a project quite daunting especially for Nick Keighley of Face North Forestry who runs the Woodmizer mobile sawmill from his base at the Sylva Wood Centre, and had only just taken delivery of it when the logs arrived.

The original plan was to have the logs de-barked before we received them, but since the process chews up the timber so badly that we would have needed to recut them before carving, we thought it was easier to run them through the sawmill straight away. It was not an easy task as we weren’t looking for planks but a cylinder of solid oak with no sapwood or bark. This meant that Nick needed to roll the logs onto the sawmill make a pass with the saw, roll the log a few degrees make another pass then continue around the log. We provided him with a plywood disk with the correct Diameter (400mm) to act as a template, but it was very much a case of learning on the job which Nick did brilliantly.

We estimated that the 15 foot logs were about a tonne in weight after sawing so they needed very substantial trestles to support them and these needed to be adjustable to save back strain. A trip to Dave at Cobalt Blacksmith in Nuffield and some chalk drawings on the forge floor resulted in a pair of scissor-type trestles with a chain locking system. We ended up with two pairs so we could work on two poles together.

Brian is an student of mine who bravely agreed to have a go at some of the lettering and has proved to be a natural letter carver, there are around 300+ letters on each pole It takes about 15 or 20 minutes to carve each one so he is an extremely useful member of the team. Steve my other helper has left us to learn cabinet making in Lyme Regis but will be back in time to help with the last few poles in the New Year (he doesn’t know this yet!).

Once the poles were on the trestles they needed to be rounded out to remove the slabs left by the saw. The first two poles, which had gnarly grain, were planed with a 4” power planer; boring, messy and noisy. Once we had a good smooth surface to work on the poem stencils were wrapped around the pole so we could write out the poem reading from the bottom up. The poem words wrap around the pole and are carved into a ribbon with the other carvings placed between the twists of the ribbon.

Once we started work on the later poles we found that the timber was so good that it could be rounded out with a drawknife. The second and third poles were lovely to work; with long straight grain that showed pink as the drawknife sliced through the surface, and because they were denser than the previous two poles it took them longer to open up

Then it was a matter of drawing the designs directly onto the timber and starting to carve. Roughing out the designs was done with a variety of power rasps and cutters, (Rotarex and Arbourtech) on 4” angle grinders, and then followed up with carver’s gouges and mallets.

Because of the nature of green oak all the designs needed to be bold simple shapes, rather than delicate or highly undercut, as the Oak began to open up as soon as it was placed on the trestles. Each pole required about 30 hours of drawn design work which was sent to the Woodland Trust to be signed off before work could begin.

It has been a personal highlight seeing these huge slightly pink oak poles rounded out and made ready for the carver’s chisels. Of course so far the poles are all sitting horizontally in storage after our work is complete, and though they look good and very intriguing, I’m really looking forward to seeing the champion pole go up, which will be the first pole to be lifted into place on its custom made stone plinth in the grounds of Lincoln castle.

Simon Clements
www.simonclements.info

Find out more and sign the new Charter at: treecharter.uk/sign


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Sylva Foundation joins with The Goodwill Partnership

posted on October 24, 2017

Trees and woodland take a lifetime to mature so changes we make now to the way we plant and look after them will benefit both current and future generations. That’s why leaving a gift in your Will to a charity like Sylva Foundation could be a wonderful, enduring demonstration of your commitment to the environment, wildlife and sustainable living for generations to come.

Our first legacy gift is currently helping us offer workshop and educational facilities at the Sylva Wood Centre in Oxfordshire so people of ages can develop woodworking skills. As a small charity each new legacy would make a transformational difference to our education, science and forestry project work – helping us meet our objectives; to bring 5% of privately owned woodland into management by 2021, to train 2,000 more Forest School leaders to get children out into the woods to learn, and involving over 3,000 citizen scientists in research to influence forestry policy and practice.

Making a Will allows you to decide how your assets are divided among your family, friends, and causes that are important to you. Surprisingly, two-thirds of the adult population in the UK don’t have a valid Will, leaving the courts to take these decisions on their behalf. There are several ways to make your Will:

  • Talk to your own solicitor
  • Find a local solicitor through The Law Society
  • Make a simple, fixed-priced Will in the comfort of your own home through The Goodwill Partnership which works with a number of national charities.
The Goodwill Partnership

The Goodwill Partnership

Sylva Foundation has recently joined with The Goodwill Partnership – the largest distributor of home-visit solicitor-provided Wills in England and Wales, to offer a Will writing service that lets Sylva Foundation supporters and volunteers leave a legacy gift if they wish. In return, The Goodwill Partnership will provide Sylva Foundation with a monthly report of legacy donations made, as well as the monetary value of the donation (if permitted by the donor).

The Goodwill Partnership guarantees the lowest price for a home-visit Will, which is checked and provided direct to you by a panel firm of solicitors who can also provide legal advice and storage of your signed Will. A simple single Will is £98 + VAT*, and a partner Will is £96 + VAT – no matter where you live with no hidden costs or attempts to upsell other products.

The process of making your Will is made extremely simple. You do not need to visit a solicitor; a professional trained counsellor comes to your home free of charge to take your instructions at a time convenient to you, whether daytime, evenings or weekends. You can find out more and make an appointment online or telephone them directly on 0844 669 6148.

If you are considering making a legacy gift to Sylva Foundation and you’d like to talk to us before doing so please contact Dr Gabriel Hemery directly on legacy@sylva.org.uk.

Find out more about The Goodwill Partnership


*There may be additional charges for discretionary trusts or complex wills.

 

 


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Argyll Small Woods Coop – woodland planning workshop

posted on October 16, 2017

The Argyll Small Woods Cooperative and the Croft Woodland Project are hosting a woodland planning workshop on Tuesday 24th October.

Argyll Small Woods Cooperative

Argyll Small Woods Cooperative

The workshop will take participants through the woodland planning process and introduce them to the practicalities of measuring trees and creating a woodland inventory. Participants will also learn how to use myForest to develop a plan for their woodlands as well as how myForest is helping the co-operative to query woodland information across its members, allowing them to assess opportunities for collaborative woodland management.

The event is being led by Paul Orsi, Director for Forestry at Sylva Foundation, and Iain Catterwell, a forestry consultant based in Argyll.

Email info@argyllsmallwoods.coop to book your place or to find out more.

Details: Culfail Hotel, Kilmelford, 11am – 4pm.

This is a free event supported by Forestry Commission Scotland, Woodland Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund.

www.argyllsmallwoods.coop


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