Wood Week captivates primary school

posted on November 16, 2016

An innovative week-long programme of outdoor and indoor education about trees, forestry and wood — Wood Week — was developed and tested with one lucky primary school.

Sylva Foundation’s Education Manager Jen Hurst teamed up with Forester Paul Williams, Carpenter Julian Angus and staff at Combe Church of England Primary School to provide children with a week-long programme of activities on the topic of British trees, forestry and wood. This was supported by head teacher Charlie Marshall as part of the school’s new Curiosity, Creativity and Challenge curriculum.

The week kicked off with an assembly on the OneOak Project  which provided the school with inspiration and ideas for their own tree; a Norway Spruce to be felled in the school grounds. On Day Two Paul Williams of Trees and Gardens came into school and ran forestry workshops for the children explaining his work and equipment. Jen worked with children to learn more about Norway Spruce, its biology and value and to estimate the height and age of the tree before its felling. Once felled the children re-measured the tree and watched Paul cross cut the trunk 122 rounds so that each child took one home.

Julian Angus runs his own carpentry business from the Sylva Wood Centre but also works with schools to make wood products.  On Day Three of Wood Week Julian set up a ‘pop up’ wood workshop in the school grounds and gave the Key Stage 2 (aged 7-11 years) the task of making two benches out of Douglas-fir timber. The children were completely hands-on measuring, sawing, hammering, bolting and working as a team. The benches are needed by the school to increase the seating area for outdoor learning. Key Stage 1 children (aged 4-7 years) also enjoyed using tools making tree cookies with hand drills at their Forest School sessions on the same day.

Jen Hurst led classes outside on Day Four with engaging tree identification activities. Learning the names and uses of the trees will enable staff and pupils to use their school grounds more for outdoor learning. On the same day Years 5 and 6 (aged 9-11) learned how wood was used in the past by building a wattle and daub wall out of hazel and willow as part of their Anglo-Saxon history lesson. In classrooms teachers taught lessons related to Wood Week, including literacy by comparing Norway Spruce and Oak, debated the of felling trees, and produced artwork using materials from trees. These lesson plans, resources, photos, films and activities will be uploaded onto TIMBER! website.

The finale of the week was the branding of 10 logs of Lawson Cypress donated by Blenheim Estate. Julian Angus set up a ‘pop up’ Black Smith forge complete with bellows. Key Stage two children selected the individual iron letters and branded the log poles to spell out the school’s values. Key Stage one children helped shave the bark off the logs with a spokeshave. A final school assembly was held outdoors and the offspring of the OneOak tree, a young oak sapling, was planted to replace the Norway Spruce.

There has been lots of positive feedback from parents and children, one 8 year old said:

“it was the best week of my life!” and many children have expressed an interest in careers in forestry and woodwork.

Charlie Marshall Head Teacher said:

“Schools can focus on the negatives of deforestation so we decided to look at the positive…and learn about the journey of a tree through its life…”


Sylva’s Education Manager Jen Hurst explained the many outcomes from Wood Week:

  • educating young people, teachers and their families about British trees, forestry and wood
  • training and enabling school teachers to use their school grounds more for outdoor learning
  • improving school grounds with benches and sculptures to enable outdoor learning
  • giving young people a genuine hands on experience making products out of wood
  • providing young people with the opportunity to meet professional foresters and carpenters
  • developing new resources for teaching and learning on British trees, forestry and wood that will be available nationally on Sylva’s TIMBER! website. “


If your school is interested in a Wood Week or Julian Angus workshops please contact Jen Hurst


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Congratulations to Blenheim forester Nick Baimbridge

posted on September 7, 2016

Congratulations to Blenheim Palace forestry foreman Nick Baimbridge for his recent Long Service Award from the Royal Forestry Society.

Nick Baimbridge long service award on the RFS news

Nick Baimbridge long service award on the RFS news

We worked closely with Nick during the OneOak education project (2009-12). He felled the magnificent OneOak tree while watched by 350 schoolchildren plus invited guests.

Looking back over his 30 years Nick says:

“The reason I took up forestry was that I was an outdoor lad, interested in nature and I didn’t want to be stuck inside working in an office. What I enjoy the most is the variety of work we do – never enough time to get bored but the proudest moment that sticks out is being involved in the One Oak project starting in 2009, which at the time was the most studied oak tree in Britain. I would encourage people to take up forestry, it is a great way of life and woodlands always need managing.”

Read more about Nick’s award

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OneOak tree grows again

posted on March 11, 2016

A young sapling raised from a remarkable oak tree⸺once the focus for our national education and arts project⸺has been planted by children in an Oxfordshire school.

Stonesfield Primary School children and their OneOak sapling

Stonesfield Primary School children and their OneOak sapling

In 2010 a 222-year-old oak tree, grown in woodland on the Blenheim Palace Estate, was felled for its timber. It was donated to Sylva Foundation by Blenheim Palace as the focus for our education project OneOak. The OneOak project brought people closer to growing trees for wood by telling the full life story of the oak tree. The tree’s felling was watched by 250 local school children who then returned to the woodland, planting seedlings grown from the acorns of the OneOak tree, to create a new oak forest.

Today, children from Stonesfield Primary School⸺one of schools that took part in the OneOak project⸺were excited to be planting a young oak sapling grown from the OneOak woodland in their school grounds. In addition to the young OneOak tree, trees and flowers have been planted to create a new wild area for learning and play.

Generous support for the planting day has been provided by the forestry team from Blenheim Palace who helped the children plant trees, and provided benches and log seats made of timber from the estate’s woodlands. Imogen Radford from local company Wonderwood donated her time and skills to create a willow weave shelter with the children. Local companies Nicholsons and Barlows generously provided trees and building materials.

Paul Orsi, Sylva Foundation Director for Forestry, commented:

“This is a wonderful project to help young people, not only learn about trees and forestry, but to actually become young foresters by planning, planting and managing the new trees themselves! Meeting the Blenheim Palace Forestry team and Wonderwood’s Imogen Radford will really inspire young people to understand the work that happens in our woodlands everyday.”

Jen Hurst, Sylva Foundation Education Manager commented:

“Planting the young OneOak tree is not only completing the OneOak story but also marks the beginning of an exciting new youth-led project for Sylva.”

Fi McGregor, Head Teacher at Stonesfield School commented :

“It was a privilege to be involved with the original OneOak project, our children got to know the OneOak tree; studying it, measuring it and drawing it. We then witnessed the unforgettable felling of the beautiful tree followed by the processing of the timber to make a range of oak products from furniture to fuel pellets.

Returning to the woods to plant the OneOak acorns made us feel part of the life cycle of the OneOak. To be able to plant a OneOak sapling in our own grounds means that the OneOak story continues. Sylva and Blenheim have enabled our children to gain a better understanding of how felling trees contributes to woodland management and to the huge range of products one tree can provide. We are incredibly grateful to the staff of Sylva and Blenheim for giving us this fantastic opportunity and for helping us to plan and create a new wild garden space for play and for learning.”

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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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OneOak memorial sculpture returns home

posted on May 15, 2013

In the final act of the OneOak project, today we returned the OneOak memorial sculpture to its rightful home; to the woodland at Blenheim Palace.

The end of the OneOak project

The end of the OneOak project: the forestry team at Blenheim Palace gather with sculptor Simon Clements (right) and Sylva’s Gabriel Hemery (left)

The sculpture, designed and made by Simon Clements, toured around all the OneOak exhibition venues during 2011 and 2012 but it was always destined to rest on top of the stump of the OneOak tree that provided the inspiration and material for the three year project. The sculpture will now remain in the woodland to weather and grow a natural patina of mosses and lichens, surrounded by a small forest of 250 oak trees.

One of the 250 oak trees planted by school children

One of the 250 oak trees planted by school children emerges from its treeshelter near the OneOak memorial sculpture

Installing the OneOak memorial sculpture

Installing the OneOak memorial sculpture and repairing a few tree stakes damaged by browsing deer

Simon Clements installs the OneOak memorial sculpture

Simon Clements installs the OneOak memorial sculpture on the tree stump

The OneOak sculpture returns

The OneOak sculpture returns fresh from its journeys around Britain – last seen in Edinburgh!

Our thanks to Simon Clements and the forestry team at Blenheim Palace.

Category: OneOak project

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OneOak exhibition report

posted on May 9, 2013
Scottish Forestry Trust

Scottish Forestry Trust – exhibition sponsor at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

The OneOak finale exhibition, hosted by Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh last Autumn, was made possible thanks to the support of the Scottish Forestry Trust.

As a condition of their funding a report about the exhibition has been submitted to the charity. It confirmed that over 49,000 members of the public were exposed to the exhibition during the six weeks that it was open at RBGE. In the same period over 9,000 people visited our OneOak project webpages.

You can read more about the support provided by the Scottish Forestry Trust and access the full report (linked at the bottom of their page) here.

Category: OneOak project

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OneOak exhibition enters its last week

posted on November 26, 2012

The OneOak exhibition at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has now entered its last week.

One Oak exhibition wall panels montage at RBGE

One Oak exhibition wall panels montage at RBGE

Over the last five weeks some tens of thousands of visitors have seen the displays of information about sustainable forest management, watched the films, listened to the music, and been amazed by both the beauty and variety of wooden items made from the OneOak tree.

Entrance to the OneOak exhibition

Entrance to the OneOak exhibition

If you’ve seen the exhibition why not leave a comment about your experience on our blog or Facebook page.

If you’ve not seen it, you have until Sunday 2nd December. For more visitor information click here.

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A Sylvan gift for any tree lover

posted on November 22, 2012
OneOak tree portrait - mounted

OneOak tree portrait – mounted version

With just four weeks to go to Christmas, we have some remaining limited edition prints of the OneOak tree, drawn by internationally-renowned artist Sarah Simblet. Available to buy online from our shop, it would make a perfect Sylvan gift for any tree lover.

More about the Limited Edition Print

A stunning pen and ink portrait of the OneOak tree drawn by internationally-renowned artist, and author of Botany for the Artist, Sarah Simblet. Generously donated to the Sylva Foundation by the artist. All proceeds from sales will be used for our charitable work. Only 100 limited edition prints have been made, and each hand signed and numbered by the artist.

Sarah Simblet is an artist, author and teacher of drawing at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford. Sarah made an original pen and ink drawing of the OneOak tree before it was felled in 2010. In the tradition of the teacher and art critic John Ruskin, her botanical drawings are a great aid to our understanding of the structure of plants by encouraging the viewer to study their intricate detail. Such meticulous drawings made by the human hand can be more compelling than photographs which are now commonplace in everyday life.

Printed with pigment-based inks on acid-free 310gsm FSC grade cotton rag paper, with UV coatings providing light-fastness in excess of 100 years. Double-mounted (where applicable) with off-white cotton rag board. All materials are sustainably sourced. Frames (where applicable) are made with FSC grade ash finished with natural wax.

Visit the Sylva Foundation online our shop

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OneOak exhibition at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

posted on October 13, 2012

It is the opening weekend of the OneOak finale exhibition at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh this weekend; the beginning of a six week long exhibition. Sylva staff are on hand to talk with visitors this weekend. Here are a few photographs (click to enlarge), with more to follow.

The exhibition was sponsored by the Scottish Forestry Trust.

Category: News, OneOak project

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OneOak craft items by DZ Design

posted on October 11, 2012

Makers Richard Zakss and Samantha Drewett of DZ Design have produced dozens of craft items from the OneOak wood.

They have worked with the offcuts from other Makers, including Rodas Irving, and parts of the tree that other Makers ignored such as large and bent branches.

These items and more will all be for sale at our exhibition opening tomorrow at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

DZ Design website

Category: OneOak project, Wood
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