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Oxford-Sylva scholarship highlighted in university’s major campaign

posted on May 12, 2015

The University of Oxford has announced that its major fundraising campaign has reached the £2 billion mark. We are proud of the Sylva Foundation’s strong ties with the university, particularly through our graduate scholarship that focusses on productive and healthy forests. According to the University of Oxford’s announcement today:

“The Sylva Foundation, a long-standing and committed supporter of the Department of Plant Sciences, is currently supporting a DPhil student through a donation of £31,000 for the Oxford-Sylva Graduate Scholarship. The current scholar is assessing the ecological consequences of ash dieback in the UK and the potential impact on ecosystems and organisms that rely on ash trees. This understanding will help to establish resilience to environmental change and to find ways to mitigate the forecast impacts of dieback.”

Read more on the university’s website

The Oxford-Sylva scholarship is one of the Sylva Foundation’s current fundraising campaigns  – read more – and our wish is that we can secure the scholarship in full and in perpetuity.

If you are interested in finding out more about the scholarship, you can read more about the Oxford-Sylva scholarship or contact us.


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Congratulations to Dr Kirsty Monk

posted on March 12, 2015
Sylva Scholar Kirsty Monk conducting fieldwork mapping fungal cords

Oxford-Sylva Scholar Kirsty Monk conducting fieldwork mapping fungal cords at Wytham Woods in 2012

Congratulations to Dr Kirsty Monk, our first Oxford-Sylva scholar (2010-14), who passed her DPhil viva voce last week!

Kirsty studied the role of cord-forming fungi in British woodlands at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, and has since started pursuing a career as a science teacher.

We will make available the full thesis in the near future.

Read more about the Oxford-Sylva scholarship


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Oxford-Sylva scholar features in Oxford University annual review

posted on February 3, 2015

We are delighted that Oxford-Sylva scholar Louise Hill features in the University of Oxford 2013-14 Annual Review. Interviewed for the publication, Louise — who is studying the environmental impact of ash dieback disease on woodland for her DPhil in Plant Sciences — commented:

“‘I was in Borneo with very patchy internet when I received an email informing me I’d won the scholarship. It was brilliant – all my hopes were resting on it. In this current challenging funding environment, it was a lifeline.”

Louise Hill in Wytham Woods. Photo John Cairns

Louise Hill, Oxford-Sylva scholar, in Wytham Woods. Photo John Cairns

Sylva Foundation Chief Executive Dr Gabriel Hemery said:

“We base all our work on sound evidence, so investing in top-quality science is an important strand in our strategy. The scholarship allows us to foster champion environmental scientists of the future through a close working relationship with a leading university, meaning that our work will have a lasting legacy.”

Read more in the University of Oxford 2013-14 Annual Review

We are currently fundraising towards the Oxford-Sylva scholarship. If you are interested in finding out more about the scholarship, and how you may be able to support it, please click here.

 


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Oxford-Sylva scholarship highlighted by University of Oxford campaign

posted on October 22, 2014

Ensuring forests are resilient is a key part of the mission of the Sylva Foundation, which is why we invest in promoting and conducting research on sustainable forest management.

Louise Hill in Wytham Woods. Photo John Cairns

Louise Hill, Oxford-Sylva scholar, in Wytham Woods. Photo John Cairns

For the fourth academic year in a row, Sylva has supported a DPhil student in the Department of Plant Sciences with the Oxford–Sylva Foundation Graduate Scholarship. Current Oxford-Sylva Scholar Louise Hill, now in the second year of her DPhil, was interviewed recently for the university’s major fundraising campaign Oxford Thinking. She talks about her research, which focusses on ash dieback and its ecological consequences in British woodlands, and what it meant to receive our support. The full interview is available to read on the Oxford Thinking campaign pages – read here

Together with the University of Oxford, we are keen to raise funds to support more scholars of the highest calibre. Currently we meet the costs of the scholarship from our own core funds but this is sustainable only in the medium term. Our aim is work with other donors to secure the scholarship in perpetuity. We welcome expressions of interest from individuals or companies who would like to find out more about the scholarship and how they could support it.

Read more about the scholarship

 


Our thanks to Oxford Thinking for permission to feature the interview, and to John Cairns for the photograph.


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Calling woodland owners – help wanted in ash dieback research

posted on March 13, 2014

Sylva Scholar Louise Hill – who is studying the consequences of Chalara ash dieback in British woodlands (read more) – is looking for woodland sites in the south of Britain where she could set up her experiments. If you are a woodland owner, perhaps you could help her?

Louise Hill, Sylva Scholar

Louise Hill, Sylva Scholar

Louise explains:

I am looking for areas of deciduous woods, with ash mixed in to it ideally at a density of around 300 stems/ha (i.e., not an ash monoculture). Within each site I want to set up at least one (ideally two or three) blocks of plots; each block will contain three plots of 25 x 25m, one of which will have 100% of the ash ring-barked, one 50% and on 0% (control). The experiment will look into the effects of loss of ash trees on growth rates of the remaining trees, recruitment of seedlings of other species (ash seedlings will be removed), and also effects on the ground flora. It will also look into any interactions with deer abundance for these effects. I am looking for sites in Oxfordshire, Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

If you have a suitable site, and are prepared to have some ash trees sacrificed in this way, please contact Louise directly to discuss further. She can be reached at louise.hill@plants.ox.ac.uk.


Read more about the Sylva Scholarship

 

 


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Sylva Scholar article wins RFS James Cup

posted on March 3, 2014

The James Cup is presented by the Royal Forestry Society annually to the author of the best original article for the year in the Quarterly Journal of Forestry in memory of NDG James, a distinguished forester and former President of the RFS.

A panel of RFS members judges the award and the winning article for 2013 is “Cord-Forming Fungi in British Woodlands”, written by Sylva Scholar Kirsty Monk, a final year DPhil student at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, and Gabriel Hemery, chief executive of the Sylva Foundation. The article investigates the ecology, diversity and distribution of cord-forming fungi in Great Britain, and was published in the July 2013 issue.

The article concludes: “On-going research is uncovering the numerous ways in which cord-forming fungi enhance and encourage woodland growth, health and productivity. … The time has come to consider all components of woodland ecosystems when managing for timber or woodland products. Future improvements to timber yields and woodland health will lie in improving nutrient cycling and woodland resilience, especially in the light of projected environmental change and the uncertainty it presents to woodland owners and managers.”

More information on the RFS James Cup, including free access to the article


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New Sylva Scholar starts research on ecosystem consequences of ash dieback

posted on October 16, 2013

Our second Sylva Scholar has started her research at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, funded partly by the Sylva Scholarship. Louise Hill, who was an undergraduate at Oxford before completing an MSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation  at the University of East Anglia, has returned to Oxford undertake a DPhil research project studying the Ecosystem consequences of ash dieback.

Louise Hill - Sylva Scholar

Louise Hill – Sylva Scholar

Louise said: “I am delighted to have this opportunity to work on one of the key conservation issues currently playing out in the UK and Europe. I hope that I will be able to make a valuable contribution to our understanding of this subject, and development, if possible, mitigation steps during the course of my DPhil.”

Louise has worked previously as an assistant reserve warden for the National Trust at Wicken Fen NNR in Cambridgeshire. She has also carried out a five month research project in Malaysian Borneo investigating the effects of rainforest logging on the parasite loads of Bornean birds.

Ash Dieback, caused by the fungal agent Chalara fraxinea, is an emerging lethal disease of ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior) which is threatening ash survival in many parts of Europe. In Denmark, for instance, which saw its first observed case in 2002, up to 90% of the entire ash population has become infected. The disease was first found in Britain in February 2012 and current estimates suggest that subsequent spread may affect between 90% and 99% of all British ash trees.

The project aims to investigate:

  1. The current distribution of ash (Fraxinus excelsior) in the UK and its likely ecological roles.
  2. Changes in biotic and abiotic conditions within ash-dominated woodlands before, during and after infection with Chalara fraxinea.
  3. The ecosystem consequences of losing 90% to 99% of ash trees, particularly with regard to landscape connectivity. The high percentage of ash in hedgerow corridors between forest habitats may be among the most important ecological roles of ash in the UK.
  4. Synergistic effects on biodiversity of co-occurrence with other major tree diseases, including Oak Decline and Chestnut Bleeding Canker.

 

The Sylva Scholarship was launched in Autumn 2010 in partnership with the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford. The theme of the scholarship is healthy trees and productive forests. Sylva is keen to raise sufficient funds to secure the scholarship in perpituity – read more about our fundraising campaign.

Read the latest news on the scholarship from our blog


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Cord-forming fungi in British woodlands

posted on July 9, 2013

Sylva scholar Kirsty Monk, has co-authored a paper published in the Royal Forestry Society‘s journal this month. It describes the role and importance of the lesser known group of ecosystem engineers in British woodlands; cord-forming fungi. With fellow author Gabriel Hemery, they examine the extent of our fungal knowledge and discuss their implications for forestry in the future.

Cord-forming fungi in British woodlands: what they are and what they do

Cord-forming fungi in British woodlands: what they are and what they do

The authors end with a salient and practical point for all woodland owners:

“The time has come to consider all components of woodland ecosystems when managing for timber or woodland products. Future improvements to timber yields and woodland health will lie in improving nutrient cycling and woodland resilience, especially in the light of projected environmental change and the uncertainly it presents to woodland owners and managers.”

Monk, K. and Hemery, G. (2013). Cord-forming fungi in British woodlands: what they are and what they do. Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 107, 3, 197-202.

The article is freely available to download from the Forestry Horizons library, with kind permission of the Royal Forestry Society.

 


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Help us secure the Sylva scholarship

posted on March 29, 2013
Read more about our Sylva Scholarship campaign

Read more about our Sylva Scholarship campaign

Sylva supports cutting-edge forest science in a partnership with the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford by offering a scholarship to DPhil students. We are seeking donors to help us secure our next scholar and, additionally, to help us raise an endowment fund to secure the scholarship in perpetuity.

Our first scholar Kirsty Monk is due to complete her research later this year, investigating the role of cord-forming fungi in woodland (read more). Meanwhile, an excellent candidate has been identified to follow in Kirty’s footsteps in Autumn 2013, having a double 1st undergraduate degree from Oxford and a MSc from the University of East Anglia. The proposed research programme will focus on the ecosystem consequences of ash dieback (Chalara fraxinea) in British woodlands.

To secure our next scholar we need to add to our current funds by raising an additional £5,000 for each of the next three years. At the same time the University of Oxford is keen to support the creation of more fully-endowed scholarships. They offer currently a 40 percent match-fund with a view to securing a total fund of £500,000 that will secure a scholarship in perpetuity. This is an unrivaled opportunity to leave a lasting legacy. If you are interested in learning more about the scholarship programme and how you could support it, please contact our Chief Executive Dr Gabriel Hemery or visit our online fundraising page with the Big Give.


The theme of the scholarship is healthy trees and productive forests. This reflects a joint vision between the Sylva Foundation and University of Oxford Department of Plant Sciences to foster a robust tree and forest resource in the light of projected environmental change.   Read more about the Sylva Scholarship


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New approaches to old problems

posted on October 15, 2012

Our Sylva Scholar Kirsty Monk, provides a run down of a busy conference season in the ecological world.

This year is no exception, over the last fortnight I have attended three conferences, all totally different in context but sharing the common themes of using new methods to tackle old problems.

The Biodiversity Symposium in Oxford, highlighted the potential of new technologies, such as bioaccoustic recognition (being able to tell species apart from their song, using computers) and telemetry (electronic tracking), for enhancing scientific investigations. The programme included talks from the Sylva Foundation and myself about myForest and FungiWatch respectively and, to my delight, had a whole session devoted to citizen science.

Next came the Oxford Green Schools Conference where I, in collaboration with my partner school St Ebbes’, presented the results of our Royal Society project to other teachers from Oxford and received a great response.

One week later came a joint BES/SEB/BS conference devoted to interactions between above and belowground interactions. This was fascinating and highlighted just how complex life on earth really is, discussing everything from hormones, through aphids, to tropical forest carbon cycling.

All of these were great events and I cannot wait to put everything I have learned into practice!

Kirsty Monk, Sylva Scholar


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