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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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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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Free Advice for Woodland Owners

posted on November 23, 2021

If you own an area of woodland in the south-east region of England, you could benefit from free one-to-one professional forestry advice.

woodland advice

woodland advice

Landowners are increasingly aware of the threats from climate change, pests and diseases, but are also aware of opportunities to provide services from woodlands they manage, such as carbon sequestration and water management. In future, grant payments or other types of support are likely to be available only to those with an approved woodland management plan.

Thanks to innovation funding provided by the Forestry Commission, the environmental and forestry charity Sylva Foundation is collaborating with a group of forestry agents in the Forestry Canopy Foundation to offer free support to 50 landowners across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, East Sussex, and West Sussex. To be eligible, the woodland site (0.5ha or larger) must be without a management plan that is compliant with the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS).

  • You will receive support in completing a self-assessment of the current state of management in the woodland.
  • You will receive a free consultation with a professional forestry agent to help you meet your objectives.
  • The consultation will set you on a path to completing a UKFS-compliant woodland management plan.

Landowners interested in this generous advice package are encouraged to express their interest without delay, using this online form. To discuss this offer please contact George Dennison at george.d@sylva.org.uk or 07972 216529.

The application window is open until end of February 2022, but will close when all 50 places have been allotted.


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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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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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New Woodland Management Resources for Educators

posted on December 11, 2019

Today the Sylva Foundation launches a set of new woodland management resources for teachers, Forest School leaders and other outdoor educators, through the myForest for Education website.

myForest for Education is a free online application that enables educators to produce simple maps and management plans for their outdoor education sites, and has been designed in partnership with the Forest School Association to support Forest School leaders. myForest currently has over 1500 registered education users. In response to recent user feedback, Sylva Foundation have produced a new step-by-step PDF help guide, a guide to ecological impact assessment, and a set of tutorial videos for using myForest for Education.

Watch the video

Explore the new help resources for use with myForest for Education
In a nationwide survey of 1,171 people led by the Sylva Foundation in 2019 [1] , tree health was identified as a key training need area by educators. Together with the Forestry Commission Plant Health Forestry Team, the Sylva Foundation have produced a set of pest and disease factsheets for four common broadleaved trees, directly addressing this need. The resources are designed for use in the field by Forest School leaders and other educators, alone or with older children (9+), helping to spot common tree pests and diseases and providing reporting and management advice. They are the first tree pest and disease resources in England designed specifically for educators.

Explore the new tree health resources

Education resources on myForest for Education

Education resources on myForest for Education

 

Download the leaf insect herbivore ID guide

Leaf insect herbivore identification guide

Leaf insect herbivore identification guide

Sylva Foundation have also produced a leaf insect herbivore identification guide, for use by educators in the field and to plan bug-related activities with children.

We hope you enjoy using the new resources on myForest for Education. These resources have been made possible with funding from the Ernest Cook Trust, and were developed in collaboration with Sylva Foundation intern Elsa Field, a DPhil student from Oxford University whose internship was funded through NERC.


[1] Hemery, G., Hurst, J., Petrokofsky, G., (2019).
Bringing children closer to nature: report of a survey on Forest School and outdoor learning in England. 23pp. www.sylva.org.uk/forestschools


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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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