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.

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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.


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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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Mary Barkham Appointed Trustee

posted on March 23, 2021

We are delighted to welcome Dr Mary Barkham as a trustee of the Sylva Foundation. Mary was appointed as a trustee at a board meeting held on 19th March 2021.

Mary Barkham Sylva trustee

Dr Mary Barkham Sylva trustee

Mary has had a career spanning both the public and private sector. She has a degree in horticultural science and a PhD in plant pathology. Following a period of research in universities, she worked in fungicide research for Dow Chemical followed by 14 years with the Research Councils coordinating environmental research in the UK through the Environmental Research Funders’ Forum and the Living With Environmental Change Partnership.

In 2014 she became a Forestry Commissioner for England and Scotland, has sat on the expert Committee on Forest Science and the Forest Research Board. Now retired, Mary continues to Chair the Partnership Board for Observatree (an award-winning citizen science project on tree health), is a Trustee for the William Robinson Gravetye Charity and was until recently a Trustee for the Earth Trust.

Mary lives in Wales where she is doing an eco-renovation of a farmhouse and enjoying walking and gardening.

Read more about Sylva Foundation’s board of trustees

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Help Shape Tree Health Policy

posted on February 12, 2021

If you manage trees in England, whether in an urban or rural setting and at any scale, from large woodlands through to individual trees, we want to hear your views on a range of potential tree health policies and interventions. This is a chance for you to help shape future support from government.

The results of this survey, with other research outputs, will feed into the development of a Tree Health scheme, as part of the government’s Agricultural Transition Plan published on 30 November 2020.

Stakeholder engagement workshop in Somerset led by Sylva Foundation

Stakeholder engagement workshop in Somerset led by Sylva Foundation

This survey builds on recent work exploring tree health issues with expert stakeholders across England. A team from Defra, Forest Research, Sylva Foundation, and the Countryside & Community Research Institute, held a series of workshops with landowners, managers and agents. This survey will test the ideas and principles developed in those workshops.

The survey focusses on four ‘host’ tree species at grave risk of attack by pests or pathogens: ash, larch, spruce, and sweet chestnut. For each of the species, we want you to tell us what blend of regulation, financial support, and advice would deliver the best outcomes. In your response we encourage you to choose any combination of tree species that is relevant to you.

The Tree Health Policy Survey launches formally on 15 February and will remain open for 2 weeks until 1 March.

Please take part: http://resilient-treescapes-survey.sylva.org.uk


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Sylva CEO receives Peter Savill Award

posted on January 27, 2021

In 2020, CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery was jointly awarded, with Professor Julian Evans, the Peter Savill Award for contributions to the British forestry industry.

Peter’s widow Michelle Savill recently visited the Sylva Wood Centre to hand over the beautiful prize, turned from a piece of walnut burr. The great silviculturist Dr Peter Savill served as a trustee of Sylva Foundation since the charity’s inception and later as its Chair of trustees. Gabriel first worked with Peter when they collaborated in establishing the British & Irish Hardwoods Improvement Programme (which later became a charity in its own right, the Future Trees Trust), and he supervised Gabriel’s DPhil at the University of Oxford. The pair continued to work closely together, running field trials, co-authoring research papers, and supporting the work of various charities.

Dr Gabriel Hemery, CEO Sylva Foundation, receiving the Savill Award from Michelle Savill

Dr Gabriel Hemery, CEO Sylva Foundation, receiving the Savill Award from Michelle Savill at the Sylva Wood Centre

The prize is awarded each year by Woodland Heritage, and was first awarded in 2007. Read more: www.woodlandheritage.org/awards

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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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