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New myForest services launched in Scotland

posted on September 30, 2015

Forestry Commission Scotland, Royal Scottish Forestry Society and the Sylva Foundation have come together to help foster sustainable forest management in Scotland.

Forestry Commission Scotland, Royal Scottish Forestry Society, and Sylva Foundation's myForest service

The partners

From today a suite of dedicated forest management tools are available to support woodland owners and managers in Scotland via the Sylva Foundation’s myForest service.  Forestry Commission Scotland have made available their new management planning template which is now embedded into myForest, while the Royal Scottish Forestry Society are offering discounted membership for myForest users.

myForest is an existing online platform for woodland owners and managers which aims to support sustainable forest management.  This free service now includes Forestry Commission Scotland’s new management planning template, which can be used for woodlands under 100ha.

myForest provides three applications to help woodland owners:

  1. Woodland Manager: allows owners to produce maps, store information and produce management plans.
  2. Business Directory: allows owners to easily link to other businesses in the forestry sector.
  3. Woodland Star Rating: a self-evaluation tool to measure how woodland management activities match up to the United Kingdom Forestry Standard.
Screen shot of myForest Woodland Manager

Screen shot of the myForest Woodland Manager

Chris Stark, Forestry Commission Scotland’s SRDP Technical Support Officer said:

“A management plan is the basis of good woodland stewardship and management plans are a requirement to allow woodland owners to access grant funding under the new Forestry Grant Scheme. We recognise that many of Scotland’s forests are managed by professional agents due to their size or complexity, but we are hoping that myForest will encourage and support more woodland owners to bring their woodlands into active management.”

Also from today, both existing and new users of the myForest Service will be eligible to join the Royal Scottish Forestry Society at a discounted rate. The offer is open to anyone who has signed up to the myForest Service providing that they have not recently been a member of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society. Full details about the offers are available via the myForest website: www.myforest.org.uk/membership-offer

James Hepburne Scott, Royal Scottish Forestry Society Vice-President, said:

“The Society is delighted to be able to partner with the Sylva Foundation and Forestry Commission Scotland to provide access, for present and new members, to the woodland management support systems developed by the Sylva Foundation and enjoyed by many woodland owners South of the border.”

Paul Orsi, the Sylva Foundation’s Director for Forestry said:

“myForest already supports some 3000 woodland owners across Britain but until today we were unable to provide services specifically designed to support Scottish woodland owners and managers.  As the Sylva Foundation does not have members we are delighted to be working with RSFS who provide membership support.  As a charity registered in Scotland these developments are important steps forward in our work supporting good woodland management.”

 


Notes for Editors:

Sylva Foundation is a charity working across Britain caring for forests, to ensure they thrive for people and for nature, and supporting innovation in home-grown wood.  The myForest service is a project of the Sylva Foundation.  Contact: Paul Orsi, Director of Forestry paul@sylva.org.uk  paul@sylva.org.uk

Forestry Commission Scotland advises and implements forestry policy to protect and expand Scotland’s forests and to increase their value to society and the environment. Contact: Chris Stark SRDP Technical Support Officer chris.stark@forestry.gsi.gov.uk  chris.stark@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

The Royal Scottish Forestry Society (incorporating the Royal Scottish Arboricultural Society) was founded in 1854. It is devoted to the advancement of forestry and arboriculture in all its branches.  Its members come from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, welcoming both professionals and amateurs. Contact: Alistair Harding, Director  director@rsfs.org.uk

Category: FORESTRY, myForest
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Do you have a suitable site for the Future Trees Trust?

posted on September 22, 2015

The Sycamore Group of the Future Trees Trust are looking for two 1ha sites in the UK (northern England and southern England) to establish progeny trials of sycamore.  The trees have been raised in Ireland with seed from a qualified seed orchard.  This seed orchard is comprised of plus trees selected from across the UK and Ireland.  Trees are 2 year old cell grown, from 35 clones.

They are looking to plant the trial this winter at well drained sites suitable for growing sycamore, and will provide a planting plan and trees free of charge.  After 15 years of testing, the progeny trial can be rogued to provide the owner with a tested seed orchard of the highest quality.

Please contact Gerry Douglas for further details and to arrange a site visit – gerry.douglas@teagasc.ie
Phone: Direct line +35318459006 (Kinsealy) or +3531 8059779 (Ashtown)

 

 


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myForest supports three thousand woodland stewards

posted on August 28, 2015
myForest mapped woodlands, August 2015

myForest mapped woodlands, August 2015. Click to view live stats.

More than 3000 people are using online tools provided by the myForest service to help bring woodlands into good economic and environmental condition across the UK.

The three thousandth user is a major milestone for the service that was launched in 2010. Since then there has been steady uptake of these tools by woodland stewards, as indicated with some 38,000 hectares (86,000 acres) of woodland mapped.

This is a significant area yet, in relation to the total area of UK woodlands that are owned privately1, it equates to under 2% of the total.

There is evidently much more to be done to support the stewards of woodlands, right across the UK. There are also nations and regions where uptake of myForest has been less evident.

Working in partnership with others the myForest team are developing some exciting plans and activities to bring the benefits of the myForest service to more areas of the UK. Interest from new partners and supporters is always welcomed.


1.  Privately-owned woodlands represent 72% of UK forest area or 2,268,000 ha. Forestry Commission Statistics, 2014.

Live Statistics

You can view live stats for the myForest service at any time: click here

myForest area August 2015

Area of woodland registered on myForest, August 2015

 

 

 

 

Category: FORESTRY, myForest
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What do you think about environmental change, and what are you doing about it?

posted on July 31, 2015

A national survey is launched today aiming is to help understand progress in awareness and actions in adapting to environmental change among woodland owners and managers (including agents), tree nursery businesses, and forestry professionals.

A Wordle from the 2015 Resilience Accord

A Wordle from the text of the 2015 Resilience Accord

Environmental change may mean any change or disturbance of the environment caused by human influences and/or natural ecological processes. As such the survey will be exploring climate change, pests, pathogens, flooding, wind and fire, and will be seeking to explore how resilient our forests are to change. The information gathered will be used by organisations, policy makers and researchers to help improve the resilience of the nation’s forests. The results will inform the government’s National Adaptation Programme.

The survey is part of a wider suite of activities related to resilience including the drafting of an Accord, which is a call from across the forestry sector for action to be taken to ensure our trees, woods and forests are more resilient. Organisations with an interest in trees, forestry and landowners have also produced ‘Adaptation in Action’ statements, to explain their individual views on issues and the actions they are taking to improve resilience.

The British Woodlands Survey 2015 on Resilience is supported by a very wide number of partners, with funding provided by the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust. It is hosted and co-ordinated by the Sylva Foundation.

British Woodlands Survey 2015

Read more and Take the Survey

Take the survey and read more about the resilience activities at www.sylva.org.uk/bws. The survey remains open until end of August.

 


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Good Woods delivers in Cumbria

posted on June 24, 2015

Last weekend the Good Woods team headed to Cumbria to deliver training and advice to local woodlands owners from the Grange and Meathop Woodlanders Group.

In 2013 the Good Woods project delivered support to 235 land owners to help create a clear vision for the sustainable management of 10,900 hectares of woodland in the south east and east of England. With support from Defra, B&Q and the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust we have been able to join forces with Cumbria Woodlands and expand the impact of the project to the North of England. Since spring 2014 we have carried out advisory visits via professional foresters to 47 forest holdings across Cumbria.

Reading your woodland - training with Cumbria Woodlands

Reading your woodland – training with Cumbria Woodlands

Using a clinometer to measure tree height

Using a clinometer to measure tree height

Last weekend the Good Woods team headed to Cumbria to deliver training and advice to local woodlands owners from the Grange and Meathop Woodlanders Group. The morning session covered the basics of woodland management and a guide to using myForest. Presentations also covered how to realise the productive potential of your woodland, advice on engaging with stakeholders and an update on forestry grants and support. The afternoon workshop looked at resilient woodlands (protecting your habitat against pests, diseases and climate change) and took the participants out into a woodland to see how all of this works in practice!

Ruth and Steve, the owners of a mixed semi-ancient woodland in south Cumbria found the workshop very valuable and commented that it was:

“…thought provoking, practical and very relevant for us. Friendly, informal and knowledgeable presentations with some brilliant links and advice.”

By engaging with private and community woodland owners and managers, Good Woods is helping to create a productive and sustainable vision for UK woodlands. This not only helps to reverse the alarming decline in woodland plants, butterflies and bird numbers but also boosts the productivity and profitability of our woodlands, their ecosystem service delivery and goes some way to achieving the government’s ambition to bring two thirds of our woodlands back into active management by 2018.

Good Woods is a partnership between Sylva Foundation, sustainability charity Bioregional and the business community.


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Video guidance for myForest

posted on May 19, 2015
Video help on myForest

Video help on myForest

Following on from the launch of myForest v3.0, we have launched video guidance on how to use the various myForest applications and features.

Feedback from users has been that the online help for myForest could be improved.  We have worked hard to make Version 3.0 more intuitive, as well as providing context-sensitive hints and tips, plus a more in-depth Help section.

The six videos that are now live on the site take users step-by-step through the functionality of the Woodland Manager (the main myForest application).  You can find these videos embedded within the Help section of the Woodland Manager and in their own page under the ‘More’ tab.

We hope you find the guidance videos useful.  We will be adding more videos over the coming months. Please let us know if you think we could provide a video to help with a particular feature not already covered.


These videos are directed at users with Woodland Owners or Agent accounts.  Video guidance for those using the myForest for Education account will be available soon.

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myForest for Education – a national first for forest education

posted on May 6, 2015

myForest for EducationWe are excited to announce the launch of myForest for Education: the UK’s first woodland management planning application designed specifically for education.

myForest for Education has been developed as a new feature in the recently-launched myForest version 3.0. In designing and building myForest for Education, we consulted closely with more than 100 Forest School Leaders, environmental educators and teachers who participated in early trials and contributed ideas.

The outcome is myForest for Education – an easy-to-use and free online application that enables any educator, or young person, to generate straightforward woodland management plans, maps and ecological impact assessments for woodland sites and school grounds.

myForest education

A screenshot from the myForest for Education application. The smallest of features can be mapped and described. A management plan can then be created for your site.

 

Key Features:

  • Forest School Leaders undertaking Level 3 training users can produce a Forest School site management plan and ecological impact assessment.
  • Educators using any school grounds, woodland site or other outdoor space in the UK can create printable maps with features and labels.
  • Responsive design, which means it fits the size of the screen you are using, making it easy to use with tablets and laptops.
  • Guidance throughout using ‘context-sensitive’ help.

Sylva Foundation’s Education Manager Jen Hurst said,

“​myForest for Education creates a bridge between the worlds of forestry and education, and it will increase engagement of educators and young people in real life sustainable forest management”.

myForest for Education training workshops are currently being planned at several locations across the UK. They will be targeted at Forest School Leaders, environmental educators or teachers interested learning more about the power of myForest for Education. More information will be posted here soon.

 

We are grateful to our partners the Oxfordshire Forest School Service, based at Hill End Centre near Oxford, and the national Forest School Association for their input and for providing opportunities to run consultation and training workshops with educators.

Find out more myForest for Education

You can also email Jen Hurst for more information

Patsy Wood Trust

Funded by the Patsy Wood Trust


We are indebted to the Patsy Wood Trust for supporting the appointment of Sylva’s Education Manager, and the development of the myForest for Education application.

 


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Major new version of myForest launched

posted on April 24, 2015

A major new version of myForest has been launched by the Sylva Foundation. Version 3.0 of myForest is more streamlined, easier to use and packed with new features.

Existing myForest users can log in as normal and find all their usual account information, saved maps and management plans. New users will find the site intuitive with ‘context-sensitive’ help throughout.

About myForest

myForest serviceThe myForest service was developed by the Sylva Foundation as an online platform to support sustainable forest management by woodland owners and managers (including agents) – because the majority (72%) of woodlands in Britain are in private hands and about half of these are thought to be under- or un-managed.

The service is used currently by 2,500 people to map and manage more than 35,000ha of woodlands across Britain. It is provided as a free service, although donations from users are always gratefully received.

The Sylva team have worked closely with Forestry Commission England to ensure compliance for myForest users with the regulatory framework, and are discussing the same with Forestry Commission Scotland. Also in place is a formal partnership with the Royal Forestry Society and Small Woods Association to promote the myForest service to members.

Why the new version?

Since myForest was launched in 2009, technology has moved forward rapidly so the very latest in online software developments are reflected in the new version. In addition Sylva has taken account of feedback from its many users.

Screen shot of the new Woodland Manager mapping component of myForest v3.0

Screen shot of the new Woodland Manager mapping component of myForest v3.0

 

 What’s new?

  • Responsive design, which means it fits the size of the screen you are using, making it better for using with tablets and laptops.
  • Easy access to the three myForest tools: Woodland Manager, Business Directory, and Woodland Star Rating.
  • Woodland management tool now called Woodland Manager. In here you will find a full screen map and easier access to your woodland information.
  • Quick access to your management plans in your account home screen.
  • Improvements in creating printable maps.
  • Simpler access to the Woodland Star Rating allowing you to measure the management of your woodlands against the UK Forestry Standard.
  • Improved guidance using ‘context-sensitive’ help, including video tutorials.
  • The Wood Market element of the site has been removed while discussions continue with others in the forestry industry to see how they can best use the technology.

 

Screen shot of the woodland management plan editor within myForest v3.0

Screen shot of the woodland management plan editor within myForest v3.0

 

Visit the myForest website: www.myforest.org.uk


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A brave new world for woodland managers

posted on January 15, 2015

A report published today demonstrates that private forestry holds the balance of power in meeting the challenges of environmental change. Woodland managers will need courage to make forward-looking decisions to ensure our woodlands can thrive in future. Nine out of ten woodland managers have experienced environmental change in recent years, yet less than half believe the UK’s forests will be affected in future.

British Woodlands Survey 2015 report

British Woodlands Survey 2015 report. Click to access.

At the historic COP21 climate talks in Paris the world came together and agreed to reduce the effects of climate change. Our woodlands and the products they produce play a significant role in the balance of greenhouse gases, for example by storing carbon, while also providing many benefits for people and wildlife. However, unless our woodlands are able to adapt to environmental change — which includes not only surviving in a warming climate, but also coping with threats from pests and diseases, fire and flooding — then none of these benefits will arise.

Our trees and woodlands need to be resilient or be able to ‘bounce back better’ in the face of threats from environmental change. Fortunately we have a forestry standard for the UK (the UKFS) that is recognised globally as exemplary. This includes 18 key guidelines that aim to ensure that our woodlands are able to adapt to environmental change. If woodlands are managed according to these guidelines then we could have some confidence that UK forestry is well-prepared for environmental change. Examples might include anticipating a warmer climate by choosing the best species to plant for future conditions, or by taking actions to limit the spread of pests and diseases. But are woodland owners and managers aware of their vital role in helping the UK respond to environmental change?

Woodlands cover 13% of the UK’s land area and almost three quarters of this (2,283,000 ha; Forestry Commission 2015) is privately owned. This means that the actions of private woodland owners and managers, rather than public bodies such as the Forestry Commission, are likely to have the greatest effect both on the vitality of our woodlands, and on any contribution we can make to mitigating the effects of climate change. However, questions have never been asked of woodland owners and managers about their awareness, actions or aspirations relating to environmental change, or how well they may be following the guidelines of the UKFS.

Earlier in 2015 a group of ten leading forestry and woodland organisations collaborated to run a national survey to address these questions; exploring awareness, action and aspiration relating to environmental change among private woodland owners and managers, and forestry professionals. The research was funded by Forestry Commission England, Sylva Foundation, University of Oxford and the Woodland Trust. Today the main report of the the survey is published.

The survey attracted responses from 1509 people including: 827 private woodland owners; 182 forestry agents; 235 other tree and forestry professionals (e.g. NGO staff, forestry contractors); and 19 tree nursery businesses. Responses were received from across the whole of the UK: most private woodland owners were located in England, while agents proportionally represented more properties than owners in Scotland and Wales. The respondents represented an area of woodland, managed by owners or their agents, covering 247,891 ha; equal to 11% of all privately-owned woodlands in the UK.

Writing in the Foreword, Chairman of the Forestry Commission, Sir Harry Studholme, commented:

“For the first time, we have on record the ‘voice’ of more than one and a half thousand woodland owners and managers. This is critical as, if we want to make real change on the ground, this will have to be done by landowners and managers themselves. The results tell us that there is much work to do, with little progress seen on implementing adaptation to date. It is, however, pleasing to see that thought is being given to climate change and resilience.”

Lead author of the report, Chief Executive of the Sylva Foundation, Dr Gabriel Hemery, said:

“Whilst there were some positive indicators of progress in the forestry sector, it is clear that current pest and disease outbreaks are dominating the resilience agenda, with less thought given to the longer term effects of environmental change. I believe that woodland owners and managers may not be aware of the magnitude of change that is predicted.”

He continued: “I am deeply concerned that only a small majority of woodland owners believed that climate change would impact the UK’s forests in future, and by the high degree of uncertainty expressed about this. Making improvements to our communications with woodland owners and managers must now be an overwhelming and urgent priority.”

“It is clear that some brave decisions will need to be made by individual woodland owners and managers, as well as the forestry sector as a whole, if our woodlands are to thrive long into the future.”

Reflecting on the report, Mike Townsend, Principal Advisor – Conservation, at the Woodland Trust said:

“It’s clear from the results of this survey that Government, its agencies, and those in the private and voluntary sector who work with woodland owners, must provide clear advice and practical help to ensure trees and woods and the wildlife they support are able to adapt to climate change, threats from pests and pathogens and other environmental change. We need a much higher proportion of woodland under some form of considered woodland management, and action across all sectors of the forest industry to ensure the UK’s trees and woods are able to adapt and thrive.”

Results from the survey will be used by the collaborating group of organisations to develop an Action Plan. Earlier in 2015, the same organisations agreed to work together, and more widely, to prepare for environmental change by signing a Climate Change Accord (see below).

Summary of main findings:

  1. Overall, implementation of the UKFS good forestry practice requirements for climate change adaptation is currently low.
  2. High awareness among woodland stewards of environmental change impacts may provide new opportunities to engage with woodland managers, particularly if focussed around issues of direct and local relevance.
  3. Professionals and agents were generally more aware and active in implementing adaptation measures than owners, indicating that existing sources of information and outreach activities among these groups are effective.
  4. Lack of information and advice available to woodland owners and managers to help them respond to existing and emerging threats surfaced as a key issue. A number of owners expressed a view that subjects covered by the survey were too technical. Existing assumptions concerning comprehension and knowledge of adaptation and resilience may be unrealistic.
  5. A dearth of contingency plans among owners and managers to deal with major events such as fire, pest and disease outbreaks, and extreme weather, is of considerable concern.
  6. Low awareness of climate projections for their locality, together with lack of knowledge of soils, means that most woodland stewards are unaware of the potential impacts of environmental change. Most owners have not reviewed species suitability under projected climatic conditions and are therefore unaware of the need to, and potential for, improving the resilience of their woodland.
  7. Uncertainty around the concept of provenance/origin, improved planting stock and genetic diversity points to a requirement for improvements in education and the communication of scientific and practical evidence.
  8. Low levels of awareness and action in relation to biosecurity among owners, which was only marginally better among professional foresters, suggests that there is a need to review whether current guidance on biosecurity and risk assessment is appropriate and provides directions for the design and communication of predictive modelling.
  9. Targeted funding to support actions which might benefit the resilience of woodlands, in particular pest (vertebrate and invertebrate) management and control, would be highly beneficial.
  10. Many of the actions for increasing resilience will flow from good management planning and levels of understanding of the issues, both of which appear to be insufficient. The high number of woodlands without a management plan will undermine attempts to improve resilience.

 


Further Information

About the British Woodlands Survey:
The British Woodlands Survey (BWS) gathers evidence about the UK’s woodlands and those who care for them. It aims to provide a voice for private woodland owners and forestry professionals, and an evidence base on which future policies and practice can be developed. BWS2015 is the third survey in the series. The British Woodlands Survey is co-ordinated by the Sylva Foundation within its think-tank Forestry Horizons.

Download full report of BWS2015:
The report is available free to download at: www.sylva.org.uk/forestryhorizons/bws2015

Report citation:    
Hemery, G., Petrokofsky, G., Ambrose-Oji, B., Atkinson, G., Broadmeadow, M., Edwards, D., Harrison, C., Lloyd, S., Mumford, J., O’Brien, L., Reid, C., Seville, M., Townsend, M., Weir, J., and Yeomans, A., (2015). Awareness, action and aspiration among Britain’s forestry community relating to environmental change: Report of the British Woodlands Survey 2015. www.sylva.org.uk/forestryhorizons/bws2015

Partners:
The 2015 survey was supported by an Advisory Group comprising representatives of Climate Ready, Confor, Country Land & Business Association, Forestry Commission England, Forest Research, Natural England, Royal Forestry Society, Sylva Foundation, University of Oxford, and Woodland Trust.

Climate Change Accord:
Over 30 organisations with an interest in UK forestry signed the 2015 Climate Change Accord which states:

“We believe that it is necessary to act now to provide a secure future for our forests, woods and trees, that significant changes are required to widely-accepted and practiced systems of management to make them resilient, and we are committed to help realise the vision set out in this Accord.”

 


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Resilient Woodlands Initiative event in the Forest of Dean

posted on January 13, 2015
Resilience Centre

Resilience Centre

On Saturday 17th January, Paul Orsi (Sylva Foundation) will be among a host of guest speakers at an event aiming to unlock the economic, social and environmental benefits of woodlands in the Forest of Dean.  The event is being hosted by the Resilience Centre, whose main aim is to bring local business and community together in enterprising ways in an effort to mitigate and adapt to climate change and become collectively more self-reliant.

At least 47 per cent of woodland within the Forest of Dean district is privately owned. Sue Clarke from The Resilience Centre estimates that if just 20 per cent of neglected woodlands were actively managed, it could create more than 250 skilled jobs in traditional forest crafts, and related fields.

The aim of the day will be to look at the steps required to form a Resilient Woodlands Initiative, and to explore ways to work together and access sources of funding.  The event is open to anyone who owns or manages a patch of woodland, works in forestry or a related sector, or is interested in bringing more woodlands into active management for local environmental, economic and social benefit.

To find out more information and to book go to www.theresiliencecentre.co.uk/courses

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