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Call for urgent action to adapt forests to climate change

posted on June 30, 2022

Forestry, conservation and government organisations have come together to reaffirm their commitment to work together to promote the importance of adapting trees, woods and forests to climate change.

The Forestry and Climate Change Partnership

 

The Forestry and Climate Change Partnership (FCCP) has published the Forestry and Climate Change Adaptation Accord which sets out a collective vision that Britain’s trees woods and forests are resilient to climate change and therefore able to meet their full potential to provide environmental, social and economic benefits.

Climate change and the associated environmental impacts including drought, flooding, fire, pests and pathogens present serious threats to the health of our trees woods and forests. There is an urgent need to improve the resilience of both newly created and existing woodland to climate change. This requires significant change to widely accepted and practised systems of woodland and land management. Greater awareness is needed for the importance of adopting a broader range of species, diversity of genetics, age and stand structure, and improved connectivity in the landscape.

The FCCP is working to communicate the case for adaptation, to provide training and education, inform research priorities and contribute to policy development.

Dr Gabriel Hemery, Chief Executive of the Sylva Foundation and Chair of the FCCP, said:

The recently renamed Forestry and Climate Change Partnership represents an unusual level of collaboration and a powerful agreement to work together to make change happen, fast. Our trees, woods and forests are faced with unprecedented rates of climate change and increased environmental threats such as pests and pathogens. Only by working together, and with the support of individual woodland owners and professionals, will we be able to rise to meet these challenges, with an ambition to bounce back better.

The Accord is available on the new FCCP website at https://forestryclimatechange.uk. Organisations are invited to show their support for the Accord by signing up online.

ENDS


Notes for editors:

The Forestry and Climate Change Partnership (FCCP) https://forestryclimatechange.uk is a cross sector unincorporated body which promotes measures which enhance the adaptation of trees, woods and forests to climate change and associated impacts. Members of the FCCP are:

Confor

CLA

DEFRA

Forestry Commission England

Forest Research

Forestry England

Future Trees Trust

Institute of Chartered Foresters

National Trust

Natural England

Royal Forestry Society

Savills

Small Woods Association

Sylva Foundation

Tilhill

The Tree Council

The Woodland Trust

Woodland Heritage


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Sourcing and Using Home-Grown Wood Products

posted on June 27, 2022

Sylva Foundation’s views on sourcing and using home-grown wood products.

Using more wood products sourced from UK forests will stimulate our economy while improving the environmental condition of more woodlands, reducing wood-miles (carbon footprint of importing timber), and help reconnect people with the benefits of a working countryside.

Sylva Foundation has set out its views on sourcing and home-grown wood products, and articulated how these link to its charitable purpose in a new position statement: Sourcing and Using Home-Grown Wood Products. The position statement also sets out a number of actions which it commits to following and will advocate to others. The position statement can be downloaded here.

 

Home-Grown Wood Procurement - decision tree

Home-Grown Wood Procurement – decision tree

Context

  • Sylva Foundation’s vision is for a society that cares for nature while living in harmony with it.
  • Much of the UK’s wildlife has adapted to thrive in managed forests.
  • Currently there is low awareness of the provenance of wood products among users and consumers, and therefore a lack of awareness of the resulting consequences for the environment and economy.
  • There is a perception among UK users of wood products that supply is limited and/or that quality is poor.

Our Actions

Sylva Foundation position statement on sourcing and using home-grown wood products

download the position statement

Sylva Foundation will:

  1. advocate a hierarchal approach, placing a preference for home-grown wood products above some certified wood products.
  2. develop and make freely available a decision support tool to aid good environmental and ethical decision making by users of wood products (see below).
  3. be proactive in supporting the mission and activities of Grown in Britain.
  4. explore how best to improve the UK woodchain.

Home-grown Wood Product Selector tool

Sylva Foundation has developed a beta version of a Home-Grown Wood Product Selector decision support tool. This tool is provided free to use and aims to guide wood product users in decision making for sourcing timber and wood products in the UK. Sylva Foundation aims to develop this tool further with support from partners, and if investment can be attracted, develop a simple mobile application to improve accessibility and user experience.

home-grown wood product selector tool

home-grown wood product selector tool

 


Background

The area of woodland in the UK is estimated to be 3.2M hectares (13%); meaning that it is the second least-wooded country in Europe. A significant proportion of woodland area (44%) has been certified under the UK Woodland Assurance Scheme. However, a similar area of woodland (e.g. 42% in England) is without a management plan compliant with the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS). Such non-compliant UKFS woodlands may be failing to deliver benefits to society, the environment, and to the UK economy.

The UK is the second largest importer of timber of any country in the world (second only to China), including 7.2M m3 of sawnwood and 5.3M tonnes of pulp and paper, amounting to £7.5 billion worth of imports . From its own forests, the UK produces 3.3M m3 of sawnwood, 3.0M m3 of wood-based panels, and 3.6M m3 of paper product.

It may seem obvious that a country with low woodland cover may be reliant on timber imports for much of its needs, however the current low level of woodland management in the UK is a real concern. Not only does a reliance on wood product imports leads to significant carbon footprint due to transportation (‘wood-miles’), but the under-performance of the UK timber market means that woodland owners may remain unmotivated to improve the condition of their woodlands, or even to invest in creating new woodland. Good woodland management (as measured against the UKFS) is closely linked not only to the economy, but also to the environmental condition of our woodlands.


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Innovative support launched for existing and new woods across England

posted on May 30, 2022

An innovative new project known as PIES, standing for protect, improve, expand, and sustain, has been launched to help with the creation and management of woodlands across England.

PIES project

PIES project

PIES project. Image (c)GabrielHemery

The project is funded by the Trees Call to Action Fund. The fund was developed by Defra in partnership with the Forestry Commission and is being administered by the Heritage Fund.

The PIES project will be delivered by a partnership between three organisations: Sylva Foundation, Forestry Canopy Foundation, and Grown in Britain.

The project team is also working closely with the Forestry Commission and the NFU to support engagement, provide advice, and deliver long-term plans to foster and expand resilient woodlands over the next three years. The PIES project is providing a network of independent forestry agents to deliver high-quality and standardised advice to landowners across England, supporting them in planning to comply with the UK Forestry Standard, achieving Grown in Britain certification, and improving access to the Woodland Carbon Code. Landowners taking part in the project will receive subsidised support, including one-to-one advice with ongoing online support and technical services.

The invitation to landowners to take part is expected to be ready from July, meanwhile more information about the project and an expression of interest form is available on the project webpage.

The PIES team combines the strategic work and information technology provided by Sylva Foundation, the network of independent forestry managers supported by the Forest Canopy Foundation, and the work of Grown in Britain in supporting the green economy. Together, the partnership will provide a joined-up approach, supporting landowners in meeting the objectives of the government’s England Trees Action Plan. As all three organisations are not-for-profit, and focussed on delivery of sustainable forest management for public good, therefore the partnership will have a long-term view and ongoing positive impact for the sector.

Dr Gabriel Hemery, CEO of Sylva Foundation, commented:

We are delighted to be working with our partners to deliver this innovative approach to supporting landowners across England. The PIES project will help meet many of the key elements of the England Trees Action Plan, including expanding and connecting woodlands, promoting the green economy, and protecting and improving existing woodlands.

Mr Justin Mumford, Director of Forestry Canopy Foundation, said:

This project will revolutionise the way that we are able to engage with landowners and will open up the critical dialogue needed to address key government targets on bringing woodland back into management and increasing woodland cover. These key natural capital assets can only be enhanced when we have strong collaboration between private landowners and government agencies, and this project will allow for that to happen.

Mr Dougal Driver, CEO of Grown in Britain, added:

There have never been so many opportunities for land owners and managers to provide nature-based solutions for the economy, planet and people. We are excited to be part of this project that will build and sustain vital connections between different parts of the supply chain, for timber, carbon, and the array of benefits that woodlands can provide.

 


For Editors

Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity focussing on trees and woodland. It uses its forestry knowledge and information technology skills to provide innovative solutions to some of the greatest environmental challenges facing modern society. Its platform myForest helps more than 9,000 woodland owners and managers care for 160,000ha across Britain. It also provides an environmental matchmaking platform NatureBid which has supported the £24M of funding in the last three years. From its base in south Oxfordshire the charity runs a Wood Centre and Wood School supporting training and the use of home-grown timber. www.sylva.org.uk

Forest Canopy Foundation is a not-for-profit partnership of professionals from across the forestry industry who have come together to play their part in mitigating climatic change and reviving biodiversity in the UK. The FCF now manages an innovative scheme combining public and private finance to make it more feasible for landowners to plant trees and is also supporting the industry through an ongoing research and development programme. The FCF has has a national network of 11 Expert Providers (EPs) operating under the Foundation’s umbrella. Each EP is certified by FCF’s independent auditor Grown in Britain. Each EP can support landowners with various forms of tree planting, including woodland creation, agroforestry, and hedgerows by providing expert advice and practical support on funding streams available, establishment and long-term management. www.forestcanopyfoundation.co.uk.

Grown in Britain is a not-for-profit, independent certification body supporting UK forestry and global plant health. GiB works to create a sustainable future for forests and forest products, to increase canopy cover in the UK and to protect our natural habitats from the threat of pests and diseases. Their vision is to put trees and plants at the heart of a healthier, more biodiverse, resilient and prosperous UK economy. www.growninbritain.org

 

Trees Call to Action

Trees Call to Action


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Wood School Assistant Appointed

posted on May 26, 2022

We are delighted to welcome Phillip Gullam as our new Wood School Assistant.

Phillip Gullam - Wood School Assistant

Phillip Gullam – Wood School Assistant

Phil previously taught at Rycotewood for a number of years, teaching various furniture-making courses. He brings to the role a breadth of experience gained over the years.  Phil has been involved in the teaching and assessing qualifications for wood occupations for more than 15 years. Most recently this was as the nationwide quality assurer of furniture qualifications and as an assessor of furniture-making apprenticeships. Prior to this, he was a workshop manager for several high-profile furniture/kitchen makers, and has successfully run his own workshop.

Commenting on his appointment, Phil said:

‘I am excited by the opportunity to work with Sylva’s students and help develop their furniture making skills and knowledge, using homegrown timbers, and to be involved in Sylva Foundation’s wider projects.’

Read more about the Sylva Wood School


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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 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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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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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)

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