Hooke Park Winter Lecture series

posted on November 3, 2015

The Winter lecture series at the Architectural Association’s Woodland Campus at Hooke Park, has been announced.

Sylva Foundation’s CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery is part of the line up of speakers this year. He will be talking about woodland culture and the making of The New Sylva on Wednesday 2nd December.

Read more about the Hooke Park Winter lectures

Category: events, The New Sylva
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Conference: Resilient Woodlands – meeting the challenges

posted on September 7, 2015
Resilient Woodlands conference: 1st October

Resilient Woodlands conference: 1st October

An important conference — Resilient Woodlands: meeting the challenges — is taking place at Birmingham on 1st October, and places are still available.

The conference is not only where people can hear the first results of the British Woodlands Survey 2015 but also listen to a top level line up of speakers raising the questions we need to consider about the impact of climate change on our woods and offering their perspectives on measures to support moves towards increased resilience. Organised jointly by the Royal Forestry Society and the Woodland Trust it promises to be a lively conference with plenty of time for discussion which anybody with an active interest in the long term health of our woods will benefit from attending.

Speakers include:

  • Mike Townsend, Woodland Trust
  • Dr Gabriel Hemery, Sylva Foundation
  • Duncan Stone, Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Graham Taylor, Pryor and Rickett
  • Professor Rob Mackenzie, BiFor
  • Dr Tom Tew, Vincent Wildlife Trust
  • Philippe Morgan, President, Pro Silva

A full programme and booking details can be found here.

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Workshop: bringing forest ecology into schools

posted on June 12, 2015

British Ecological Society - Forest Ecology GroupThe Sylva Foundation is working in partnership with the British Ecological Society to run a half-day CPD and consultation workshop to establish opportunities and constraints to teaching and learning forest ecology in secondary schools.

Teachers and Educators: are you interested in using local woodland near or on your school grounds to carry out ecological investigations, experiments and monitoring that fit with curriculum requirements? Would you like to learn more about forest ecology from Forest Scientists, Foresters and Woodland Owners? The proposed consultation workshop is an excellent opportunity to explore these ideas and benefit from CPD.

Woodland Owners: would you like your woodland to benefit young people through education activities? Are you interested to understand the needs of secondary school teachers when going on woodland visits?

Forest Scientists and Foresters: would you like to share your knowledge of forest ecology, fieldwork and current needs in research of trees and forests? Are you interested to know the content of secondary school curriculum and ways in which young people can inspired to follow careers into Forestry?


The workshop will use participatory methods and fieldwork to answer several key questions:

1.      What are the requirements for teaching about forest ecology in the new secondary school curriculum for Key Stages 3-5?

2.      How do teachers currently teach forest ecology? For example through case studies, theory, local trips, Field Studies Centres, or in the classroom? What are the barriers or bridges to teaching about forest ecology?

3.      What support do teachers and environmental educators need to teach forest ecology and what support do students need who carry out ecological investigations?

4.      Can myForest for Education and Sylva’s Forest Science projects support these needs? If so how?

Details and Booking form below

British Ecological Society workshop

Monday 6th July 2015, 1pm -5pm

At the Sylva Foundation offices, Manor House, Little Wittenham, OX14 4RA  directions

Workshop Co-ordinator: Jen Hurst , Education Manager,

Participants are asked to pay a booking fee of £10.00 to guarantee their place on this workshop. Funding from the British Ecological Society has enabled the Sylva Foundation to provide this CPD and consultation event at minimal cost. See booking form below.

Lunch: Lunch and drinks will be provided free of charge.

Participants: Twenty participants: Biology and Geography secondary teachers from Key Stages 3 to 5, Environmental Education professionals, Woodland Owners, Forest Ecologists and Foresters.

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Resilient woodlands: meeting the challenge

posted on June 11, 2015

An important conference will take place on October 1st concerning the challenges facing our woodlands from environmental change. Organised jointly by the Royal Forestry Society and the Woodland Trust,  we are pleased to have been invited to contribute. Sylva Foundation CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery will present early findings from the latest of our British Woodlands Surveys — to launch this summer on the theme of resilience (read more) — and discuss these in the context of practical action that woodland owners can take.

October 1st 2015

The RFS and The Woodland Trust present: 

Resilient Woodlands: meeting the challenges

resilience - are you meeting the challenges

Resilience – are you meeting the challenges? A poster produced by Sylva in 2014

Everybody’s talking about the challenges, but what should you be doing?

Join a top line up of speakers at the National Motorcyle Museum , Birmingham, to address these three key questions:

  • What are the key challenges for woods and woodland owners in the 21st century?
  • How can we make woods and wooded landscapes both ecologically and financially resilient?
  • What does this mean in terms of policy and practice?

The event brings together a unique line up of experts to discuss the questions which impact on all woodland owners and managers, and on everyone who loves or is involved in woodlands – what should we all be doing to ensure our woodlands are resilient to the threats from environmental change?

Full details of the conference, the speakers and how to book go to 

The conference counts towards CPD for a number of organisations, and  places are limited, so book early!

RFS President Sophie Churchill and The Woodland Trust CEO, Beccy Speight will be chairing the day.

Speakers are: Resilient Landscapes – Mike Townsend, Woodland Trust; Ecological Resilience in Woodlands –  Duncan Stone, Scottish Natural Heritage; Making Woodlands Pay – Graham Taylor, Pryor and Rickett Silviculture; Resilience: a research perspective – Professor Rob MacKenzie , BIFoR; Forest Resilience and Climate Change – Jonathan Spencer, Forestry Commission; Resilience in Living Landscapes – Stephen Trotter, the Wildlife Trusts; Natural Capital – Professor  Dieter Helm, Chairman of Natural Capital Committee (by video); Marketing your Woodland: innovations in wood product markets – Jez Ralph, Timber Strategies; Are pine martens the answer to grey squirrel control? – Dr Tom Tew, Chief Executive Environment Bank and Chairman of Vincent Wildlife Trust; A Practical Guide to taking Action on Resilience – Dr Gabriel Hemery, Sylva Foundation.

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Join us for talk and show at River and Rowing Museum

posted on March 11, 2015
OneOak project event at the Henley River and Rowing Museum

OneOak project event at the Henley River and Rowing Museum


On Saturday March 21st, at the River and Rowing Museum, join Sylva’s Jen Hurst and Master Craftsman Philip Koomen for a ‘forest to furniture’ talk and tour of the stunning wood craft exhibition.

Two years on the OneOak project continues to inspire people with its unique message of sustainable forest management, creativity and education. Find out how Sylva is building on the success of OneOak to launch a new national education project for teachers and educators.

For more information, and to book you place, click here

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Follow the Sylva trail at Westonbirt this Summer

posted on July 18, 2014
The public enjoying the Sylva trail at Westonbirt National Arboretum

The public enjoying the Sylva Trail at Westonbirt National Arboretum

The Sylva Trail – celebrating the 350th anniversary of John Evelyn’s Sylva and Britain’s wood culture – continues to draw visitors at the Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum at Westonbirt. Extracts from the book, together with illustrations by Sarah Simblet from The New Sylva, feature in twenty panels placed around the arboretum

The trail is open until the end of August, when Sylva Foundation staff are looking forward to taking part in Treefest at the arboretum: 29th-31st August 2014.

Over the Summer kids are encouraged to roam among trees and nature, with five weeks of free activities and crafts, plus admission is free for children from 23 July – 31 August 2014. With 600 acres to explore, a line-up of fantastic summer events, free activity sheets and quizzes and 10 natural play areas to enjoy, there is no better way to spend a Summer’s day.

From 29th to 31st July a special event – Drawn to nature – aims to encourage families to be inspired by trees to create their own masterpieces. There will be a range of activities to try including nature printing, water colour and wood block printing onto fabric. Perhaps someone will be inspired to become the artist for the next edition of Sylva in another generation’s time!

More information

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Take to the trees on the Sylva Trail

posted on June 3, 2014

This summer, the Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum at Westonbirt in Gloucestershire will be home to an outdoor exhibition marking the publication of an extraordinary new book celebrating trees and woodland culture.

From 1 June to 31 August 2014, the Sylva Trail at Westonbirt will showcase a total of 20 beautiful botanical illustrations and accompanying text from The New Sylva, which was published this year to coincide with the 350th anniversary of John Evelyn’s original Sylva book – the first comprehensive study of British trees and the first book ever published by the Royal Society.

The book is a detailed celebration of British trees and woodland, written by Gabriel Hemery and Sarah Simblet. Gabriel is a forest scientist and is chief executive of the Sylva Foundation. Sarah is a botanical artist of international renown who teaches at the Ruskin School of Art at the University of Oxford.

Staff from Westonbirt Arboretum helped Sarah Simblet source sample material which was used for studies of some of the trees illustrated in the book and have worked with the Sylva Foundation to create the trail.

Ben Oliver, learning and participation manager at Westonbirt Arboretum said:

“We are delighted that Westonbirt will be home to the Sylva Trail this summer. As the National Arboretum, it seems fitting that we should play host to this beautiful outdoor exhibition.”

“The book and the trail are a real celebration of trees and both aim to engage readers and visitors with trees in a new way; something which we are always keen to do here.”

Dr. Gabriel Hemery said:

“Westonbirt Arboretum and its staff played a key role in the production of the book. The Sylva Trail at the arboretum is a fitting tribute to the enduring legacy of John Evelyn, and the perfect venue to celebrate our relationship with trees and forests.”

“The Sylva Foundation has supported the creation of the book and the exhibitions during 2014, as part of its work to revive a wood culture in Britain.”

Further information

The Sylva Trail runs at Westonbirt Arboretum from 1 June to 31 August 2014. Admissions costs £8 for adults and £7 for concessions. Admission for children is £3 until 23 July when free admission for under 18’s begins and runs until 31 August. The arboretum will be open from 9am to 5pm each day.

The New Sylva – author’s blog

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Chalara ash dieback workshop

posted on May 21, 2014

Lawshill village hall, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Wednesday June 18th, 9.30am – 4pm

Do you want to know more about the recovery from ash dieback?

Do you know how to deal with ash dieback on your land?

This free workshop will bring together managers of ash research sites, concerned land-owners and managers of woodlands experiencing or threatened by Chalara ash dieback. The aim is to share information and experience and to renew partnerships in ash genetics and tree improvement research.

Speakers at the workshop will be:-

  • Dr Jo Clark, Earth Trust – The Future Trees Trust ash improvement programme and the Living Ash Project.
  • Ted Wilson, Silviculture Research International – The biology of Chalara fraxinea, identification and reporting of infected ash trees.
  • Dr Ian Bancroft, University of York –The genomics of ash and current research on markers for disease resistance
  • Dr Gabriel Hemery, Sylva Foundation – Getting people involved! The AshTag citizen science project.
  • Ted Wilson,Silviculture Research International – Silviculture and management of ash – best practice advice for woodland managers.

After lunch, we will visit two local woodlands to see Chalara ash dieback – Frithy Wood, a mature woodland and
Golden Wood, a young woodland where ash dieback was first reported in Suffolk.

Numbers are limited, so to reserve your place at this important event, contact Tim Rowland on 01453 884264 or
e-mail him at:

Living Ash Project

Living Ash Project

The Living Ash Project is a DEFRA-funded five-year project to identify resilient ash trees and to develop
techniques to rapidly reproduce them. Learn more about the Living Ash Project at
This workshop is kindly supported by Suffolk County Council.

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Sylva exhibitions open in Scotland and Wales

posted on April 17, 2014

To celebrate the 350th anniversary of John Evelyn’s landmark work, Sylva, two major exhibitions open today featuring drawings of British trees and woodland, made by our artist-in-residence Sarah Simblet.

The two fine art exhibitions are open from 17th April until 31st May at:

  • the John Hope Gateway, at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) – read more
  • the Gallery, at National Botanic Garden of Wales – read more

Thirty five pen and ink drawings from The New Sylva, selected from over 200 drawings commissioned to illustrate The New Sylva, a contemporary version of Evelyn’s classic text, are presented in public for the first time. Created from life in woodlands across the British Isles, Sarah Simblet’s drawings feature individual tree portraits and woodland scenes as well as life-sized illustrations of leaves, fruits and flowers. Highly detailed, they are both accurate depictions of the typical growth patterns and shapes of species, as well as sensitive and vivid translations of some of our most treasured landscapes.

Drawings from The New Sylva on display at the John Hope Gateway, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Drawings from The New Sylva on display at the John Hope Gateway, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

To further celebrate this historic anniversary, at RBGE 35 prominent people, including authors, artists, horticulturalists and scientists, have been asked to nominate the tree or woodland-inspired book that has most influenced them. The 35 books chosen, which include poetry, novels and children’s books, as well as tree identification guides, forestry texts and planting manuals are exhibited alongside the drawings.

Some of the favourite books on display at RBGE

Some of the chosen tree and forestry books on display at RBGE

A film featuring Sarah Simblet, sponsored by RBGE, has also been released to coincide with the opening of the exhibitions.


Purchase a signed copy from our online shop

Read more on the authors’ blog

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Sylva Trail opens at Harcourt Arboretum

posted on April 3, 2014

Harcourt Arboretum is taking part in celebrations occurring in gardens and arboreta throughout the UK and Ireland to mark the 350th anniversary of John Evelyn’s Sylva, and the publication of a contemporary version – The New Sylva.

A large panel from the Sylva Trail at the Harcourt Arboretum

A large panel from the Sylva Trail at the Harcourt Arboretum

Harcourt Arboretum, part of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, is hosting a Sylva Trail from April until the end of November. It guides visitors while informing them about trees and their purpose, and delighting them with selected text and drawings from The New Sylva. Read more.

Twelve individual panels are distributed throughout the beautiful arboretum, which includes many majestic and some rare tree specimens, as well as areas of natural woodland. It is well-known for its show of bluebells towards the end of April.

Setting up the Sylva Trail at Harcourt Arboretum

Setting up the Sylva Trail at Harcourt Arboretum. Left to right: Ben Jones, Arboretum Curator; Rodas Irving of Oxford Oak, designer of trail leaf boards; Guy Horwood, Arboretum Arborist.


Silvologist Gabriel Hemery and artist and Sarah Simblet co-authored The New Sylva. It is published by Bloomsbury, and was sponsored by forestry charity the Sylva Foundation ( Its 400 pages explores the future of our forests along with forty-four detailed tree profiles, brought to life with 200 exquisite drawings that capture the delicacy, strength and beauty of our trees.


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