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FSC UK Small Woods Project launched

posted on June 11, 2018

We wrote recently about how data collected from the British Woodlands Survey 2017 was informing development of the Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC) for small woodland owners. Today, FSC UK has launched the Small Woods Project. If you’re an owner of a small woodland you may be able to help.

What do stakeholders think of FSC?

In an article published today, Owen Davies from FSC UK wrote:

To date, FSC has not been as successful as we would like in encouraging small woodland owners to seek certification. Owners have told us that their reluctance is due to too much paperwork, complex standard requirements, and high costs. With this initiative we aim to make certification lighter on paperwork, simpler, and cheaper, while still maintaining the credibility that stakeholders expect from FSC, which we hope to achieve through a careful assessment of risks and opportunities for positive change.

Let’s be clear; we intend to be really radical, and to test the limits of the FSC system. We may not end up with a standard that can be used for FSC forest management certification in the UK. But what we learn along the way about just how far we can push risk-based approaches to certification of small woodlands will be of immense value not just in the UK but around the world.

To learn more, you can read a more technical introduction to the project. If you’re really keen and think you have what it takes to be part of the group developing the standard, you can read the full, formal terms of reference.

Read the full article


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What do stakeholders think of FSC?

posted on June 1, 2018

As part of British Woodlands Survey 2017 — whose report was published earlier this year — we were commissioned by FSC UK to ask stakeholders their views about forest certification. We were pleased to see FSC UK publish a summary of the results in the May/June edition of Forest Matters.

FSC-article-2018

FSC UK article in Forest Matters: click to read full article online

Forest Standards Manager of FSC UK, Dr Owen Davies, wrote:

“To attract more woodland owners into certification, it seems that we need to reduce paperwork, simplify standard requirements, and reduce costs, in that order. Of course, these factors are to some degree inter-related. As part of our ongoing work to try to make certification more accessible for smaller woodland owners, and with the support of FSC International’s New Approaches project, FSC UK will shortly be embarking on a project to develop and forest test a radically new standard specifically tailored to such woodlands. We intend to really push the boat out and try something that has never been tried before within the FSC system. While the result may not gain universal acceptance, we hope that the lessons learned will be valuable for FSC not just in the UK but around the world.”

A call will soon go out for members of a standard development group and a consultative forum for this project. Keep an eye on the FSC UK website for updates.


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myForest updated

posted on May 24, 2018

We have launched a new version of myForest, used currently by 4,229 people to map and manage 68,744ha of woodland across the UK. This update is the first stage towards the launch of myForest Prime, which will include enhanced functionality and access to Ordnance Survey Mapping.

The Woodland Manager suite of tools in myForest provides easy to use tools for woodland mapping and management. Regular users will notice several differences and improvements:

The map editor has received a significant upgrade. This includes the ability to produce maps at regular scales (in fact, at any scale) as well as an improved interface, labelling functions and output. Watch our new introductory video tutorial below.

The user account homepage has been streamlined so you can update all your account settings in one place. This includes accessing Deer Management functions and communication preferences.

Finally, updates to our Privacy Notice and Website Terms to make it easier for you to understand what information we collect and why we collect it.

Read more about myForest [if you are already logged in this link will take you to a page with more videos].

myForest updated May 2018

myForest updated May 2018


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Health and Harmony – what does the future of the environment look like to you?

posted on May 1, 2018

The deadline of 8th May is fast approaching for responses to government’s public consultation about the future for food, farming, and the environment. We urge everyone with an interest in trees, woodlands, and forestry to respond.

Defra 25-yr plan

Defra 25-yr plan

Following the launch of Defra’s 25-year plan for the environment, this public consultation is seen as critically important element in shaping government plans for the environment. Strategies, policies and funding mechanisms are being designed to account for life after Brexit and the Common Agriculture Policy. Meanwhile, Defra is increasingly focussed on ‘public money for public good’.

Anyone with an interest in trees, woodlands, forestry, and timber will soon realise that the public consultation is significantly skewed towards farming and food production. We encourage everyone with an arboricultural and silvicultural interest to have their say. Whilst you are steered towards completing an online questionnaire, which can be found at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/farming/future-of-farming, given the bias towards farming you may find it more rewarding to write a separate response outlining your views. Government has made it clear that it is prepared to receive a standalone response, or alternatively you could write a letter to append to your questionnaire response, which should be emailed to agricultureconsultation@defra.gsi.gov.uk .

If you would like to back-up some of your personal views with the latest evidence among the woodland and forestry sector, you may want to read the latest British Woodlands Survey report, which contains a wealth of facts and figures on priorities and issues that hundreds of respondents provided last year, see www.sylva.org/bws. If you are a member of Confor, Royal Forestry Society, Small Woods, Institute of Chartered Foresters, CLA, and others, if may be worth checking their membership pages for advice on key issues these bodies would you like you to raise.

Deadline for responses is 11:45am on 8th May.


Read more about the consultation, including various appendices, by visiting:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-future-for-food-farming-and-the-environment


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BWS2017 report published

posted on March 9, 2018

We are pleased to announce the publication of the British Woodlands Survey 2017 report.

We adopted a ‘360-degree’ research method for British Woodlands Survey 2017, whereby stakeholders were engaged in designing the survey, providing data, and reviewing outcomes. Forty-eight workshop delegates ranked priority themes provided by 221 respondents in an initial survey, for UK countries: England, Scotland and Wales. Overall, Societal attitudes ranked highest, followed by Climate change adaptation, and Pests and diseases. Within countries, additional top-ranking themes included: for England, Tree Planting and Timber Production; for Wales, Private woodland owner engagement; and for Scotland; Profitability and Natural capital.

The main survey, based on these themes, was conducted online during summer 2017. Responses were received from 1,630 people, distributed across the UK. The majority of respondents (660) were private woodland owners, who together with 180 forestry agents, controlled 3,629 woodland properties covering 645,370 hectares. The response represented 28% of all private sector woodland area in the UK (2.30Mha), and one-fifth of the total UK woodland area (3.17Mha).

Results

BWS2017 infographic - click to download

BWS2017 infographic

BWS2017 report - free download

BWS2017 report – click to download

Some headlines

  • Top motivation for woodland owners is protecting and improving nature.
  • Most owners think that society values woodland most for its wildlife.
  • Many in the sector want to engage more in developing policy but feel their voices are not heard.
  • There is enthusiasm for diversifying tree species to support biodiversity but concerns among some about impacts on timber yields.
  • Among a small subset of respondents (230) there would potentially be enough land made available over the next five years which would lead to a 1% increase in the UK’s woodland cover.

Download the report here

 


About the British Woodlands Survey

The British Woodlands Survey (BWS) gathers evidence about Britain’s woodlands and those who care for them. The BWS aims to provide an evidence base on which future policies and practice can be developed. BWS2017 is the first repeat survey in a five-year cycle of major surveys intended to explore broad themes (the first survey taking place in 2012). In the intervening years two national surveys explored specific themes. The BWS is co-ordinated by Sylva Foundation. Read more: www.sylva.org.uk/bws

BWS2017 was led by researchers from Forest Research, Sylva Foundation, University of Oxford and Woodland Trust. Funding was provided by Scottish Forestry Trust, Forestry Commission Scotland, and Woodland Trust.

BWS2017 was led by researchers from Forest Research, Sylva Foundation, University of Oxford and Woodland Trust. Funding was provided by Scottish Forestry Trust, Forestry Commission Scotland, and Woodland Trust.

Hemery, G., Petrokofsky, G., Ambrose-Oji, B., Edwards, D., O’Brien, L., Tansey, C., and Townsend, M. (2018). Shaping the future of forestry: Report of the British Woodlands Survey 2017. 34pp. www.sylva.org.uk/bws


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GIS course – management planning using myForest

posted on February 2, 2018

The Royal Forestry Society has announced further courses in its excellent line up for woodland owners, managers and others, including a GIS course using Sylva Foundation’s myForest.

Friday, 19 October 2018

myForest service

myForest service

myForest is a free to use online web tool (www.myforest.org.uk) designed to help woodland owners and managers produce management plans. The system allows users to map their woodlands, add information (including inventory and work programme) and produce management plans using Forestry Commission England’s template.

Course leader Paul Orsi (Director for Forestry at Sylva Foundation) will take participants through the whole management planning process, from a woodland survey through to producing management plans which can be approved by a Forestry Commission Woodland Officer. Participants will learn how to create a myForest account, map a woodland area, add attribute data, and generate a management plan and associated maps. We will look at what is required from a good management plan and how myForest can help you with this.

This course is aimed at owners of small woodlands who are keen to learn how to create their own management plan.

For more information on the course and how to book, click here

 


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Adapting to climate change

posted on October 16, 2017

Sylva Foundation CEO Gabriel Hemery reports on significant progress made in bringing the English forestry sector together to ensure that forestry practice, and our trees and forests, will adapt effectively to climate change.

UKFS and climate change adaptation

UKFS and climate change adaptation

The challenges we face in the light of climate change are familiar to us all, in every area of society. In relation to our trees and forests, and within the forestry sector, it is well-accepted that we need to take action to adapt to a changing climate. The UKFS (see box right) clearly articulates key measures we should be implementing, but how well are we meeting the challenge?

Willingness and Evidence

Two seminal moments during 2015 kick-started positive action relating to climate change adaptation in England. The first was the signing of the Climate Change Accord, ‘A call for resilient forests, woods and trees’, by more than 30 organisations. It 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.”

British Woodlands Survey 2015 report

British Woodlands Survey 2015 report

The second moment was the response by 1,500 stakeholders to a national survey concerning ‘awareness, action and aspiration among Britain’s forestry community relating to climate change’. Responses to the 2015 British Woodlands Survey indicated that the resilience of the UK’s forests is currently poor, although there are a number of positive aspects which could be built upon. The report concluded that collaboration across the sector was required, with responsibilities shared between the many interests. It also identified that risks need to be more clearly communicated to stakeholders, together with firmer, tailored, guidance on addressing these risks.

Together these two moments secured both the willingness to collaborate strategically, and the evidence necessary to measure progress towards meeting the adaptation measures in the UKFS. The next step was to build on these by agreeing what actions needed to be taken.

Taking action

A small group of interested parties came together under the auspices of the ‘Forestry and Climate Change Working Group’ (FCCWG). During 2016 the FCCWG started working towards an Action Plan for the forestry sector. It has been following a simple five-step approach:

  1. What should we be doing to support adaptation to climate change?    UKFS Adaptation Factors
  2. How do our actions measure up?    British Woodlands Survey 2015
  3. What is being done currently?    Organisations submit evidence to FCCWG during 2016/17
  4. What could we do better (or less of)?
  5. Priorities: what we need to do, by whom, by when?

 

Steps 1-3 formed the basis of a Draft Action Plan (see Read More), yet to address the important steps of what we should improve, and our priorities for taking action, it was necessary to convene a stakeholder workshop. At a meeting held on 11th October 2017—hosted by Forest Research at Alice Holt Lodge—senior representatives from 24 organisations (see box) gathered to devise strategies to tackle steps 4 and 5.

With thanks to delegates representing:

BIFOR, Confor, Deer Initiative, Egger, Euroforest, Forest of Marston Vale, Forest Research, Forestry Commission England, Forest Enterprise England, Future Trees Trust, Grown in Britain, Institute of Chartered Foresters, Lockhart Garratt, Martin Glynn, National Forest, National Trust, Natural England, Royal Forestry Society, Small Woods, Sylva Foundation, Tubex, Tilhill Forestry, Woodland Heritage, Woodland Trust.

After an opening address by Forestry Commission Chairman Sir Harry Studholme, an introduction to the FCCWG by its Chairman Simon Lloyd (Chief Executive, Royal Forestry Society), and an overview of the changes ahead from James Morison (Climate Change Science Group Leader, Forest Research), delegates were soon hard at work. Gabriel Hemery and Gill Petrokofsky, both from Sylva Foundation, managed the café-style brainstorming. Small groups tackled each of the 18 UKFS factors in turn, identifying priorities for action over the next five years.

Preparing for the next brainstorm session. Photo Gail Atkinson.

Preparing for the next brainstorm session. Photo Gail Atkinson.

 

Next steps

Over the next few months the FCCWG will be reviewing the outcomes of the October workshop. We aim to publish, in early 2018, an Action Plan for Forestry and Climate Change Adaptation. We intend this to be a rolling five-year plan, which will be reviewed annually to assess how well the sector is progress in meeting the agreed actions. Given the degree of commitment shown by organisations to date, we are confident that the actions will be widely adopted and responsibilities shared among stakeholders.

The FCCWG is keen to hear from those who may be interested in being actively involved in its work. In particular, we are aware that the interests of tree nurseries, timber processors, and urban forestry are under-represented.

Ultimately, we are hopeful that the unprecedented collaboration across the sector, together with the sound evidence behind its collective action, will help ensure that the Action Plan is embraced by forestry policy-makers, will influence the commissioning of relevant research, and will empower practitioners to take action.

Read more:

Dr Gabriel Hemery FICFor is Chief Executive of Sylva Foundation, and a member of the Forestry and Climate Change Working Group.


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Argyll Small Woods Coop – woodland planning workshop

posted on

The Argyll Small Woods Cooperative and the Croft Woodland Project are hosting a woodland planning workshop on Tuesday 24th October.

Argyll Small Woods Cooperative

Argyll Small Woods Cooperative

The workshop will take participants through the woodland planning process and introduce them to the practicalities of measuring trees and creating a woodland inventory. Participants will also learn how to use myForest to develop a plan for their woodlands as well as how myForest is helping the co-operative to query woodland information across its members, allowing them to assess opportunities for collaborative woodland management.

The event is being led by Paul Orsi, Director for Forestry at Sylva Foundation, and Iain Catterwell, a forestry consultant based in Argyll.

Email info@argyllsmallwoods.coop to book your place or to find out more.

Details: Culfail Hotel, Kilmelford, 11am – 4pm.

This is a free event supported by Forestry Commission Scotland, Woodland Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund.

www.argyllsmallwoods.coop


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myForest supports landscape-scale deer management

posted on October 6, 2017

Thanks to new online technology, landowners and managers now have the ability to create deer management plans and collect and share data more easily to manage and monitor deer population impacts across the landscape, helping to improve the environmental condition of woodlands.

Sylva Foundation has been working with the Deer Initiative to allow landowners and managers to create Deer Management Plans and collate annual monitoring data using the myForest Service.  The project has been jointly funded by Forestry Commission England and Natural England.

All six species of deer in Britain have increased in density and range over the last 40 years. As deer populations have increased, their impact on ground flora and the structure of woods is greater than ever before. In particular, fallow and muntjac deer have had a significant impact on lowland woodlands. Deer may benefit woodland biodiversity at low population densities, but at high densities, their browsing alters three important elements in a woodland: regeneration potential, woodland structure, and ground flora diversity and abundance. Impacts on these elements have ramifications for wildlife which depend on them for habitat and food. Species affected include populations of butterflies and other invertebrates, smaller mammals, birds, and their predators.

Deer management priority areas in England

Deer management priority areas in England

Collaborative management of deer populations at a landscape-scale is seen as critically important in helping to address issues arising from high deer populations in woodlands. Under this joint initiative, five priority areas (see map) have been identified in England where deer are having a damaging impact on important sites, such as woodlands designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. In these priority areas landowners can receive additional support from the Deer Initiative to organise collaborative action across landscapes.

Operations and Research Director for the Deer Initiative, Alastair Ward, said:

“The launch of these new online tools are an important step forward in managing deer collaboratively. The ability for users to share data (should they wish to) will also allow data to flow quickly and easily providing contemporary information on the impact of deer populations on the landscape.”

Director for Forestry and Rural Enterprise at Sylva Foundation, Paul Orsi, said:

“We are delighted to see the functionality we’ve developed in myForest being used to help with deer management. High deer populations are having a huge impact on the regeneration potential of our woodlands which affects them both environmentally and economically.  We hope the system will lead to more owners and managers creating deer management plans, and managing their deer populations”.

myForest is a web-based management tool for woodland owners and managers. Launched eight years ago it is now used by over 3,500 owners and managers covering an area of almost 56,000ha. It has a directory of almost 800 woodland and wood-based businesses. From 6th October myForest users will be able to use the system to create a Deer Management Plan, using the Deer Initiative’s template. Creating a Deer Management Plan is an important step towards managing deer populations. In addition, myForest will allow annual monitoring data to be stored, including cull numbers and deer impact data, from which users can automatically generate reports. To aid landscape-scale management, users can choose to share their information with local Deer Initiative Officers which will help them monitor deer impacts across landscapes allowing assistance to be prioritised. Although this deer management functionality has been specifically developed for use in the five priority areas it is hoped that it will be useful to users across England, and indeed in Scotland and Wales.

myForest deer management screenshot

A screenshot of the myForest deer management tools

Deer Manager in the Google play store

Deer Manager in the Google play store

As part of the work to add deer management functionality, myForest will gain its first mobile app. The myForest Deer Manager will allow stalkers to record cull data on the app which can then be submitted and registered on an owner or manager’s myForest account. Owners and managers will be able to keep up-to-date with cull information and remove the need for stalkers to submit paper records. The app is available now on Android and will soon be available on iOS.

Read more about the deer management functions and sign up for a myForest account online at www.myforest.org.uk/deer

Download Deer Manager App from the Apple Store

Download Deer Manager app from the Apple Store – coming soon

Download the Deer Manager app from the Google Play Store

Download the Deer Manager app from the Google Play Store


Notes for editors

Contacts
For media enquiries and to arrange an interview, please contact:
Paul Orsi, Director for Forestry & Rural Enterprise, Tel. 01865 408018, email paul@sylva.org.uk

Laura Southward, DI Media & Communications Officer, Tel. 01691 770888, email media@thedeerinitiative.co.uk

About the Partners

Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity which works across Britain to help forests thrive, for people and for nature. It works in four work programmes: science, education, forestry and wood. www.sylva.org.uk

The Deer Initiative is a broad partnership of statutory, voluntary and private interests dedicated to ensuring the delivery of a sustainable, well-managed wild deer population in England and Wales. www.thedeerinitiative.co.uk

Forestry Commission England is the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woodlands and increasing their value to society and the environment. www.forestry.gov.uk/england

Natural England is the government’s adviser for the natural environment in England, helping to protect England’s nature and landscapes for people to enjoy and for the services they provide. www.gov.uk/government/organisations/natural-england


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Woodlands Awards winner 2017

posted on

We’re proud to be one of the winners of the 2017 Woodlands Awards; for Regional & National Woodland Organisations.

Winner 2017 Woodlands Awards

Winner 2017 Woodlands Awards

The Woodlands Awards were launched this year by Woodlands.co.uk:

“Wonderful and innovative things are taking place in the woodlands sector all the time. But there has never been an awards scheme that celebrates – and gives due recognition to – all this endeavour.”

The results were announced in the October Issue of the Small Woodland Owners Group magazine; a group sponsored by Woodlands.co.uk .

Sylva Foundation Chief Executive Dr Gabriel Hemery said:

“We’re very grateful to all those who nominated Sylva Foundation. We were completely unaware we were even in the running until we heard the good news.”

Read more about the award winners

Category: Announcements, FORESTRY
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