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New web software will help deer management across landscapes

posted on November 11, 2019

Environmental charity the Sylva Foundation has launched a major new version of a web platform and mobile app designed to help with the management of deer across landscapes.

Many woodlands suffer significant impacts from expanding deer populations, creating poor conditions for wildlife. Improving woodland condition requires the careful and consistent management of deer populations, often in collaboration with neighbouring owners and managers across a landscape.

Deer Manager App

Deer Manager App

Two years ago, in partnership with The Deer Initiative, Sylva Foundation released new functionality within its online woodland management platform myForest aimed at helping landowners and stalkers collect and collate deer management information. Working closely with stakeholders the charity has since been working to provide more functionality to meet additional requirements of stalkers and land managers.

Today, a completely revised myForest Deer Manager app has been launched. Alongside the app, significant improvements to the website have also been released. The development of these new platforms was supported by the Forestry Commission and Natural England.

The web platform and links to the new app can be found at: www.sylva.org.uk/myforest/deer

myForest Deer Manager mobile app

Deer Manager App on a mobile phone

Deer Manager App on a mobile phone

This app is focussed specifically on the requirements of stalkers. It helps stalkers to collect deer cull and sighting data across multiple sites to allow them to:

  • Collect cull information including, species, sex, age, larder weight and location.
  • Collect information on other deer seen during an outing.
  • Add notes that can be associated with culls or outings.
  • Export data to a spreadsheet for reporting to others or for their own records.
  • Link directly to the myForest website to allow submission of stalking information at the press of a button.

The revised app has useful functionality that can have benefits at many levels. For stalkers who wish to maintain records for their own interest it provides a really simple and efficient platform. The benefits of the system are that once the properties or woodlands are set up in the app, the stalker can use the simple drop-down menus to record culls or blank outings minimising the risk of incorrect data input and providing either themselves or a landowner/manager with invaluable data on cull and effort.

For landowners who require cull records from their own land, it helps to maintain cull records and monitor deer management activity which can be useful for internal planning and reporting, for example a Countryside Stewardship deer management plan. For larger organisations with multiple properties and deer managers the system provides user-friendly tools which reports to a conventional excel format.

Deer Management functionality on myForest website

A new suite of online tools has been designed for landowners and managers to collect, store and collate deer management information including the ability to:

  • Collect and collate cull information from multiple stalkers through linkages with the myForest Deer Manager mobile app.
  • View cull and sighting data on a map allowing managers to spot landscape patterns.
  • Export all data to a spreadsheet for further manipulation, and allow reporting to others e.g. grant bodies.

Further updates are planned to improve functionality, including adding enhanced data storage for indicators such as deer impact assessments and the ability to download bespoke reports.

Deer Manager website

Deer Manager website

Paul Orsi, Director of Operations at Sylva Foundation, said:

“By working with The Deer Initiative and other stakeholders in the sector we have been able to significantly improve the deer management functionality offered through myForest. In particular, we have made the mobile app more stalker focussed. We hope these improvements will lead to better record keeping, allowing improved management of deer populations across landscapes.”

David Jam, Executive Director of The Deer Initiative, said:

“Lethal control of wildlife, including deer management, is under increasing public scrutiny, therefore there is a greater need than ever to maintain records and provide evidence of management activity. The myForest Deer Manager app enables land and deer managers to collect detailed data easily on deer culled and deer management effort.”


Notes for Editors

Contacts

For media enquiries and to interview Sylva staff, please contact:
Paul Orsi, Director of Operations, Tel. 01865 408018, email: paul@sylva.org.uk

Why we need to manage deer

With no natural predators and extensive suitable habitat in the UK, deer are increasing in distribution and abundance. In some cases, localised overabundance can lead to deer coming into conflict with other species as well as human and land management objectives.

  • £4.5m: The cost of damage caused by deer to plantations and other commercial woodlands, according to the Scottish Forestry. The loss of natural capital value is yet to be calculated but will be significant.
  • 8,000 hectares: The area of woodland with Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) status that is currently in ‘unfavourable’ or ‘recovering’ condition due to deer impacts. This is likely to represent a fraction of the real picture, according to the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST). “Deer can affect the age diversity of a woodland, resulting in a fall in numbers of species, and strip bark off older trees, which kills them,” says Paul Wilkinson of the Wildlife Trusts.
  • 74,000: The number of road traffic accidents a year involving deer, which kill between 10-20 people, according to the RSPCA.
  • £4.3m a year: The cost of deer damage to crops, according to Defra, with the greatest damage on cereal crops in east and south-west England.
  • 50%: The decline in woodland bird numbers where deer are present, according to the University of East Anglia’s Dr Paul Dolman: “Deer will eat the understorey and so the coppices, for example, lose their shrub layer. That can be a problem for nightingales and other long-distance migrants, such as willow warblers, chiffchaffs and blackcaps.
  • 2019 State of Nature Report Increasing deer numbers (both native species such as Roe and non-natives such as Muntjac), have a heightened impact on woodland and its dependent wildlife as they reduce natural regeneration and alter woodland structure through increased grazing and browsing.

Sylva Foundation

Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity registered in England and Wales (No.1128516) and in Scotland (No.SC041892). It aims to help Britain’s trees and woodlands thrive for people and for nature. Sylva Foundation believes that a dynamic relationship between people and the natural environment is critically important for a sustainable future. Its online woodland management platform myForest is used by more than 5,500 owners and 1,200 agents across Britain to care for almost 1,000 km2 of woodland. www.sylva.org.uk

The Deer Initiative

The Deer Initiative is a broad partnership of statutory, voluntary and private sector interests dedicated to ‘ensuring the delivery of a sustainable wild deer population in England and Wales’ (www.thedeerinitiative.co.uk). The Partners include organisations as the RSPCA, RSPB and Highways England. All the members of the Partnership abide by the principles of the Deer Accord and encourage others to share their commitment and priorities as an integral part of their management of deer. E-mail: media@thedeerinitiative.co.uk 


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Progress Towards Climate Change Actions

posted on September 6, 2019
Forestry Climate Change Action Plan progress report 2019

Forestry Climate Change Action Plan progress report 2019

Today, a progress report of the Forestry Climate Change Action Plan is published to coincide with a seminar held at the Confor Woodland Show.

Overall, there is some evidence of progress since the plan was published last year, but equally it is clear that most actions are still underway. In the year since publication, a series of important national and international reports have strengthened the need for action, including:

  • the United Nations IPCC Special Report citing 12 years to avert a ‘climate change catastrophe’
  • the Met Office UK climate change projections (UKCP18)
  • the UK Committee of Climate Change advice to Government
  • Government’s amended Climate Change Act (2008)
  • the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change on land management

Sylva Foundation CEO, Dr Gabriel Hemery, who has helped spearhead the whole initiative from its inception, said:

“Although some progress is being made, clearly the forestry sector is moving too slowly and with inadequate support, to make the step changes required to deal with the climate crisis. In particular, I urge government to review progress and consider how this work could be resourced.”

Download the report

 


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Updates to Management Plans and Felling Permissions in Scotland

posted on July 18, 2019

From today both the Management Plan template and Felling Permissions application have been updated in myForest. If you have previously created a management plan or generated a felling licence application, the information and data entered will now be in these new templates.

Scottish Forestry logo

Scottish Forestry logo

On 1 April 2019, the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018 came into effect, completing the devolution of forestry to Scotland.

This has led to the creation of two new Scottish Government forestry agencies. One of them, Forestry and Land Scotland, is now responsible for managing the National Forest Estate. The other, Scottish Forestry, replaces Forestry Commission Scotland, and is responsible for forestry policy, regulation, support and the awarding and payment of forestry grants.

As part of these changes Scottish Forestry have updated their Woodland Management Plan template and Felling Permissions application form.

screen shot of new management plan editor

A screen shot of new management plan editor in myForest

Management Plan

Although this is mainly the same as the previous template, Scottish Forestry have added the ability to generate felling permissions through the management plan approval process for thinning. Other forms of felling will still need to go through the Felling Permissions applications process.

Felling Permissions

To comply with the new Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018, Scottish Forestry have updated the Felling Permission (previously known as Felling Licence) application form. Again, the information you are required to provide is almost the same as before, but with the addition of a few additional fields.


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Felling Licence Online

posted on

myForest users can benefit from a new online system for generating felling licences.

Felling Licence Online

Felling Licence Online

We have been working closely with FC England over the last year to make sure that myForest users can benefit from a new online system without have to re-enter information that they have already entered into myForest. From today, myForest now has the additional functionality necessary to generate the file types needed to upload directly into Felling Licence Online.

In England, woodland owners and managers can apply for felling licences in two different ways:

Plan of Operations

When developing a management plan, owners and managers can fill out a Plan of Operations. This document provides Forestry Commission England with all of the information they need to generate your felling licences for the next 10 years.

Felling Licence Online

It is also possible to apply for felling licences that cover discrete parts of your woodland. Until recently this process was handled through a paper application, but earlier this year Forestry Commission England released a new online system to process applications called Felling Licence Online.

We have some new video guidance to help users through this process:


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New free OS background maps for premium users

posted on July 2, 2019

From today, myForest Premium users will have access to new OS mapping background where both online viewing and printing is free.

As part of their Open MasterMap Implementation Programme, the Ordnance Survey have recently launched a new product called OS Open Zoomstack which makes OS Open Data more accessible. We are pleased to be able to pass on this new functionality to our myForest Premium users.

The background maps displayed through Zoomstack are not as detailed as those available through the paid service, but may be sufficient in many situations to help woodland owners and agents manage their woodland (see comparison maps below).

OS Zoomstack - available through myForest Premium with no additional fees

OS Zoomstack – available through myForest Premium with no additional fees

OS Vector Map Local - available through myForest Premium with an additional fee

OS Vector Map Local – available through myForest Premium with an additional fee

Ordnance Survey licensed mapping

Sylva are working closely with OS to make sure we can offer the best and most efficient maps to the myForest community. We will let you know about the benefits of the Open MasterMap Implementation Programme and what it will mean for myForest later in the year.

Read more about myForest Premium


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Oxfordshire Ash Summit

posted on June 11, 2019

oXaSHOn 22nd May, a group of stakeholders with an interest in ash dieback in Oxfordshire, gathered together at the Sylva Wood Centre in south Oxfordshire. The meeting was convened by Sylva Foundation to consider the risks, impacts, and communication issues relating to ash dieback.

Introductory talks were made by Nick Mottram (Oxfordshire County Council), Gabriel Hemery (Sylva Foundation), Rob Coventry (Forestry Commission), and Louise Hill (Oxford University). Afterwards, the main business of the day followed, with a series of sessions during which groups considered three key areas in turn, each building on a previous iteration:

  1. Risks
  2. Environmental Impacts
  3. Communications

The whole process is aiming to co-ordinate an effective response in to ash dieback Oxfordshire and ultimately to foster a sustainable treescape. We will be building on the experiences of three other English counties that have made significant progress in rallying round the cause of ash dieback (Devon, Leicestershire, and Kent), and consider the action plan template provided by the Tree Council. Links to these and other documents are included in the meeting minutes (see below).

Oxfordshire Ash Summit

Oxfordshire Ash Summit, Sylva Wood Centre, 22nd May 2019

The main outcome of the meeting was an agreement to reconvene in the autumn to progress collaboration and possible development of an Ash Dieback Action Plan for the county. A full minute of the meeting, including links to various documents which can be downloaded, is available to download here

The Oxfordshire Ash Workshop was funded by Oxfordshire County Council.

Category: FORESTRY, SCIENCE
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Managing Woodland for Wildlife

posted on February 28, 2019

Tuesday, 26th March 2019, 1030-1530

Teaching Barn, Sylva Wood Centre

Learn how to manage your woodland for wildlife.

Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

The day will include:

  •  General background on wildlife associated with your woodland
  • How to manage your woodland to encourage wildlife
  • How to deal with potential conflicting needs between species
  • Using the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit
  • Use the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit to create an action plan for your woodland.
  • Walk through a local woodland assessing its value for wildlife

There will also be an opportunity to have a tour of the Sylva Wood Centre and hear more about the Making Local Woods Work project.

book-now

book-now

Cost:                    FREE –  18 places.  Book here

Venue:                 Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor:                   Nigel Symes (RSPB) and Paul Orsi (Sylva Foundation)

Bring:                   Laptop (if possible) for practical session. Boots/waterproofs for woodland walk.

Making Local Woods Work

Funded by Making Local Woods Work

 

 


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Woodland Wildlife Toolkit launched

posted on January 29, 2019

Today sees the launch of a new online toolkit that provides advice on managing woodlands for wildlife, in particular rare and declining species that are dependent on woodland habitats. The Woodland Wildlife Toolkit is aimed at anyone who owns or manages a woodland, or advises others about woodland management.

The Woodland Wildlife Toolkit contains three main tools:

  1. Search your wood’s wildlife to help you:
    • Find out which important wildlife is likely to be in or near your woodland based on available survey or distribution data
    • Understand the habitats and features that these species need
    • Provide these habitats through practical woodland management
  2. Assess your wood’s condition to get an overview of the condition of your wood’s habitats and identify any issues you may need to address.
  3. Woodland guidance for practical advice on management techniques, information on woodland management issues and legal considerations. A series of species factsheets provides summary information for all the species in the toolkit.
Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

Data behind the toolkit has been sourced from a wide number of sources which are detailed on the website. Examples include data from the Bat Conservation Trust, British Trust for Ornithology, Butterfly Conservation, Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, British Lichen Society, British Mycological Society, Fungus Conservation Trust, People’s Trust for Endangered Species, and the National Biodiversity Network.

Paul Orsi, Director of Operations for Sylva Foundations, said:

We were delighted to be asked to develop the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit by the partnership behind the project. At the heart of good woodland stewardship is a woodland management plan, backed by information about the wildlife it contains. This is why we have also enabled a shared login between the toolkit and our myForest platform which supports management planning.

Helen Booker, Acting SW England Conservation Manager (who leads the project for RSPB), said:

Much of our wildlife that relies on woodland is in decline. This new, innovative toolkit offers locally focussed guidance to woodland owners and managers to help them cater for the needs of this wildlife. We hope it will become the go-to tool for woodland wildlife advice.

The toolkit is being launched today at a special event hosted by the National Forest, during which presentations were delivered by senior staff from many of its supporters.

The Woodland Wildlife Toolkit has been supported and developed by: Bat Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Forestry Commission, Natural England, Plantlife, RSPB, Sylva Foundation and Woodland Trust.

Visit the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit: www.woodlandwildlifetoolkit.org.uk


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Sylva launches premium account for myForest

posted on January 14, 2019

A new premium account has been launched for Sylva’s flagship woodland management online software myForest. Users will have access to new tools, while income from regular subscriptions will help the charity invest further in the technology.

Since its launch in 2009, Sylva Foundation’s myForest web tool has been growing steadily, just like the woodlands it exists to support. The environmental charity has relied on word-of-mouth and a strong reputation for the increasing popularity of its online tools and resources supporting woodland management.

myForest is used by thousands of woodland owners, managers and educators, to map and manage more than 75,000ha of woodland across Britain. Its development has been supported in part by charitable trusts, government bodies, corporations, and individual donors. However, myForest requires regular funding to support maintenance and development, and the Sylva Foundation receives frequent requests for new features.

Behind the scenes, thanks to core support from The Dulverton Trust, the Sylva Foundation has been hard at work developing a range of additional premium-level tools which it now hopes some woodland owners and managers will opt to use. Paul Orsi from Sylva Foundation, who manages myForest, explained:

“We have introduced these additional tools in response to demands by users. We have kept the costs as low as possible, at only £24/year for a Woodland Owner account and £120/year for an Agent account. We hope that some owners, managers, and agents, will subscribe to a premium account. The income generated will support ongoing maintenance and allow us to invest further in the future of myForest.”

myForest feature table

myForest feature table

The most significant addition to the service, accessed via the new premium account, is access to digital mapping from the Ordnance Survey (note that additional costs apply dependent on usage). This is likely to be popular with those requiring maps for formal applications, or where existing aerial mapping imagery is poor.

myForest Woodland Manager showing OS background

myForest Woodland Manager showing OS background

With a myForest premium account you can now view data layers such as ancient woodland

With a myForest premium account you can now view data layers such as ancient woodland

A new measuring tool is just one of the new features we have added to myForest through a premium account

A new measuring tool is just one of the new features we have added to myForest through a premium account

Alongside OS mapping, various other options are on offer, including: advanced printing, overlaying of data layers such as ancient woodland boundaries, plus a range of reports such as summary reports for species and age-class distributions.

A myForest premium account allows you to download automatically generated reports for your woodland

A myForest premium account allows you to download automatically generated reports for your woodland

It is also possible to export a work programme to a spreadsheet so that it can be taken into the field or shared with others.

More features will be added to premium accounts over time and the charity will be developing a myForest mobile app by the end of the year.

www.myforest.org.uk


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Support for collaborative woodland management

posted on December 7, 2018

From today, users of our myForest service can query resource information across multiple properties which can help support collaborative woodland management.

Suited equally to woodland co-operatives or managers with multiple clients, the new functionality aims to improve efficiency by enhancing collaboration, with the main outcomes that more woodlands are managed well, and more home-grown timber reaches the market.

Most of Britain’s large plantation forests are managed as part of a crop rotation, but there are many smaller woodlands across the country, often part of mixed farms and estates under separate ownership, which are not being managed as costs can be prohibitive at small scales.

There can be distinct opportunities from scaling-up, such as: combining timber volumes to meet a new market demand; mixing timber from multiple small parcels to reduce haulage costs; or by undertaking similar operations at the same time of year to reduce costs. However, it can be complicated for agents managing data between clients, or for a co-operative project knowing enough about the resources managed by different members.

The new collaborative woodland management functionality in myForest aims to overcome these barriers by allowing users to query information across multiple clients/members. This includes:

  • search for species plus associated data (e.g. height, stem diameter, quality) across all properties/clients/members.
  • export sub-compartment information from these searchers into Excel to help with data management and manipulation.
  • browse sub-compartment locations on a map to view distances and conditions between different properties.
  • import data from new clients already on myForest, including mapping and inventory data.
  • search for areas with designations, such as SSSIs.
  • restrict searches to sites with felling licence applications.

The project arose thanks to collaboration with the Argyll Small Wood Coop. The Coop were working hard to provide their members with management plans, but were looking for a way of being able to query the information they had collected across their membership base to assess opportunities for collaborative management and marketing.

Here’s a real-life example of how the functionality can work for a Coop:

  1. Coop member Jamie Smith had a small parcel of oak on his farm that the Coop was trying to market for him.  There was a possible market available but because of the small volume of the parcel, haulage costs would make the operation uneconomic.
  2. The Coop searched its member database using the collaborative woodland management functionality on myForest to find out if there are any other Coop members with trees of the right specification that could make the overall offering more profitable.
  3. The Coop coordinator finds that Eleanor Davis has oak of a similar size on her farm.  They agree to market jointly both Jamie and Eleanor’s oak.
  4. Jamie and Eleanor’s woodlands entered active management and the woodland operations became profitable.

Equally the tool could work in the same way for woodland managers with multiple clients.

Sylva Foundation worked closely with Argyll Small Woods Coop and Wyre Community Land Trust to test and improve the functionality. Project funding was provided by Forestry Commission Scotland and Making Local Woods Work, together with core funding support from The Dulverton Trust.

As with all new developments in myForest we reply on feedback from the myForest community to make improvements. Please feel free to contact us with your feedback on this and any other aspect of myForest.


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