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Tree Charter legacy lives on

posted on April 17, 2018

The Charter for Trees, Woods and People, launched in 2017, continues to result in media interest and actions on the ground. This week is the inaugural meeting of the new Tree Charter UK Board.

Sculptor Simon Clements (based at the Sylva Wood Centre) features this month in the Countryside Magazine, in an article highlighting the best of British craft and focusing on his work creating the Charter Poles. Another of the Sylva Wood Centre craftspeople, Rodas Irving of Oxford Oak, recently returned from Grizedale Forest in Cumbria where he completed installation of seating around the base the ‘Strengthening Landscapes‘ sculpture; one of 11 Charter Pole sculptures located around the UK.

Now that the Tree Charter exists, the next step is to embed it into the fabric of society. A Tree Charter UK Board has been established comprising of organisations which played a key role in developing the Tree Charter to date, and can ensure a broad range of views are represented. We are pleased that Sylva Foundation CEO Gabriel Hemery is one of the Board members, which will meet for the first time this Friday.

Read more about the Tree Charter.

 


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WoodWords 2018 tickets now on sale

posted on March 9, 2018

WoodWords2018

Thursday 24th May, 6:30 – 9:30pm

SYLVA WOOD CENTRE, OXFORDSHIRE, OX14 4QT

WoodWords 2018 brings together five authors who share a passion for trees and the environment, and a common fascination in our relationships with nature. At this, our second WoodWords literary evening, they will tell the stories behind their latest books – splinters and all.

This unique event takes place in the Sylva Wood Centre – an exciting hive of creativity in wood that brings fine furniture and industrial woodworking together, set amongst a new community woodland and orchard. Dress down, enjoy drinks amongst the sawdust and wood chips at The Wood Bar, admire the incredible creativity of our resident designer-makers and, of course, meet the authors and buy signed copies of their books.

Tickets are £20 each with all proceeds contributing towards the charitable work of Sylva Foundation. Purchase your tickets here


About the Authors and their books

Around the World in 80 Trees

Around the World in 80 Trees

Jonathan Drori, a former documentary film maker and executive producer at the BBC, has been a Trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Woodland Trust. He is on the board of the Eden Project and is an Ambassador for the WWF. Around the World in 80 Trees (Laurence King) celebrates trees as one of humanity’s most constant and most varied companions. They offer us sanctuary and inspiration and of course the raw materials for our lives. Jon uses plant science to illuminate how trees play a role in every part of human endeavour, from the romantic to the regrettable.

The Long, Long Life of Trees

The Long, Long Life of Trees

Fiona Stafford is a professor of English language and literature at the University of Oxford. In 2014 she wrote the text for the Charter of Trees, Woods, and People. Fiona’s book The Long, Long Life of Trees (Yale University Press) is a lyrical tribute to the diversity of trees, their physical beauty, their special characteristics and uses, and their ever-evolving meanings. Each of its 17 chapters is dedicated to a common British tree, drawing on folklore, natural science, literature, cultural history, European art, ancient mythology and modern medicine to illuminate each trees’ central place in western civilisation. The book was formerly Sunday Times Nature Book of the Year.

The Last Wilderness

The Last Wilderness

Neil Ansell is a writer and award-winning television journalist. The Last Wilderness: a journey into silence (Tinder Press) explores the experience of being in nature in the context of a series of walks that Neil takes into the most remote parts of Britain. He illustrates the impact of being alone as part of nature, rather than outside it. In the book, Neil explores the coastal oakwoods, northern birchwoods and relic pinewoods of Scotland, and as he walks he reflects on his past, including years spent as a forestry worker in Wales and Sweden. As a counterpoint, Neil also writes of the changes in the landscape, and how his hearing loss affects his relationship with nature as the calls of the birds he knows so well become silent to him.

A Wood of One's Own

A Wood of One’s Own

Ruth Pavey is a gardening journalist and writer based in London. After years spent living amid its urban thrum, Ruth yearned to reconnect with the British countryside and she endeavoured to realise her long-held dream of planting a wood. Touring to the West Country in the late 1990s, she found herself in the Somerset Levels. On seeing this expanse of reclaimed land under its wide, soft skies she was struck by its beauty and set-out to plant a wood, tree by tree. She bought four acres, and over the years transformed them into a haven where woodland plants and creatures could flourish an emblem of enduring life in a changeable world. A Wood of One’s Own (Duckworth) is the story of how Ruth grew to understand and then shape this derelict land into an enduring legacy a verdant landscape rich with wildlife.

Green Gold: the lost journals of John Jeffrey

Green Gold: the lost journals of John Jeffrey

Gabriel Hemery is co-founder and Chief Executive of the Sylva Foundation. His first book The New Sylva (Bloomsbury) was published to wide acclaim in 2014. His latest book Green Gold (Unbound Publishing) is a fictional biographical novel based on a true story. In 1850, young Scottish tree-hunter John Jeffrey is despatched by an elite group of Victorian subscribers to seek highly-prized exotic tree species in North America. Three years after setting out, after traversing British Columbia, Oregon and California, John Jeffrey disappears without a trace. Was he lost to love, violence or the Gold Rush? The discovery of his missing journals finally reveals the truth behind an extraordinary adventure.


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Greenwood DIY for women 5May2018

posted on March 2, 2018

Greenwood DIY for women

5th May 2018

9.00am to 5.00pm

Come and learn to make some shelves to your design, shape and size, which you could use for books, shoes, clothes, tools or much more besides in the company of women.

Greenwood DIY for women

Greenwood DIY for women

During the day, you will learn to use common hand tools such as drills, knives and saws to transform ash poles and larch boards into some shelves. You will learn the basic principles of green woodworking and leave with the skills to tackle more green woodwork projects at home.

The course is aimed at those who self-identify as a woman.

Suitable for beginners / no woodworking experience necessary!

Cost: £100 per person (materials included)

Venue: Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutors: Amy Cox and Ffion Jones

 

book-now

Book your place

 


About the tutors

Amy and FFion crossed paths at the Cherry Wood project, where they did an apprenticeship in green woodworking and woodland management.

Amy now works as a coppice worker and crafter based in Gloucestershire. Her coppice products are sourced from Westonbirt arboretum, where she is an active member of the coppice restoration project. She also loves making baskets. www.amyrosecrafts.org.uk

Ffion is a green woodworker and builder based in the bristol area. She uses traditional hand tools and techniques to create beautiful and functional items.She cuts her own materials or uses local sawmills supplying British timber, and likes turning bowls.


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Farewell to Paul Sellers

posted on February 19, 2018

Last week we said farewell to Paul Sellers and the team at Rokesmith, who have built up an incredibly successful business over the last two years.

Paul Sellers and his son Joseph moved into a small unit at the Sylva Wood Centre two years ago. During their time with us they took on several new staff members, and the company expanded their online tutorials, published a book, and offered several woodworking classes at the centre. We were delighted to include a talk from Paul in our inaugural WoodWords event in 2016, while the company sponsored a number of plots in the Future Forest.

In a generous gesture, the team have made a short film to reflect upon their time with us at the Sylva Wood Centre, featuring interviews with a number of the craftspeople. We wish Paul and his team every success in their new larger unit, just a few miles away, and look forward to future collaborations.

 


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Forestry Yard opens at Sylva Wood Centre

posted on January 29, 2018

Sylva Foundation is delighted to announce the opening of the Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre. The Forestry Yard will be occupied and run by Face North Forestry, a local and expanding forestry contracting company.

The Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre

The Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre, with Nick Keighley of Face North Forestry

The Sylva Wood Centre is a growing hub of wood-using businesses: currently 13 wood-based businesses operate from the site; from boat builders, to woodcarvers and fine furniture makers. The focus of the Sylva Wood Centre is to support the growth of wood-based businesses and in particular the use of home-grown timber. The addition of the Forestry Yard will help the Sylva Wood Centre to achieve this last goal, shortening the supply chain between woodland and end use.

Nick Keighley - Face North Forestry

Nick Keighley – Face North Forestry

Thanks to a Countryside Productivity Grant, Face North Forestry purchased a new mobile sawmill. This will allow the business to select timber to be milled, which may have previously been used for firewood, adding value and locking up carbon for the long term. This timber will be available for use by the businesses at the Sylva Wood Centre; in fact Face North Forestry are already collaborating with two of the businesses.

Meanwhile, the new forestry building was part-supported by a capital grant to Sylva Foundation from LEADER, whose funds are distributed by the Oxfordshire Leader Action Group (LAG) made up of representatives from local trusts, organisations and district councils. The LAG is chaired by South Oxfordshire district councillor Elizabeth Gillespie, who said:

“Our group visited the forestry yard and we were all impressed to see how the funds are supporting the local environment and small wood businesses based at the Sylva Wood Centre.”

Nick Keighley of Face North Forestry said:

“Moving into the Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre will allow me to grow my business. I have always been frustrated by good quality timber not being used to its full potential, but local supply chains have been decimated over the last few decades with the closure of many small sawmills. The yard will allow me to add value to the timber I fell, while being based at the Sylva Wood Centre means there is a readymade customer base for my products”

Paul Orsi, Director for Forestry at Sylva Foundation said:

“The addition of the Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre is crucial to seeing more local timber being used by the businesses we support. The development of the Forestry Yard was supported by a LEADER grant which was vital to allow us to take this project forward”

More information: www.sylva.org.uk/wood


£1.55 million available to boost rural areas in the county

Grants of up to £100,000 are available to community groups, small businesses farmers and foresters for projects that support the rural economy.

The Oxfordshire LEADER fund aims to support a wide range of activities in the countryside such as assisting local small businesses, supporting local heritage and cultural events, attracting tourism and visitors increasing foresters and farmer’s productivity and helping to diversify services.

Contributions are available for capital costs such as building work, equipment and for projects located in the Oxfordshire LEADER area until September this year.

Oxfordshire LEADER is welcoming expressions of interest for support until September this year and all funds will be allocated by March 2019.  For further information on the programme and criteria for funding, visit the website http://www.oxfordshireleader.org.uk

If your project is eligible, you can contact Sophie, programme manager, on 01235 422245 or email Oxfordshire.leader@southandvale.gov.uk for further guidance.


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Courses available at the Sylva Wood Centre

posted on

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve held two very successful courses at the Sylva Wood Centre. Some places are still available on other courses this spring.

Tutor Colin Henwood with students during the canoe paddle making course

Tutor Colin Henwood with students during the canoe paddle making course

Greenwoodworker Peter Wood took eight students through their paces during a one-day course, with all students returning home with a handy greenwood stool. Master boatbuilder Colin Henwood helped students dip their proverbial toes in the water by crafting a canoe paddle from ash over two days.

We have four further courses listed with various spaces still available.

Book soon to avoid disappointment:

Pole lathe workshop 17th February

Guitar maintenance and repair 3rd March

Introduction to wood carving 17th March

Greenwood DIY for Women 5th May

 

Courses at the Sylva Wood Centre

 

Steve Kendall luthier

Steve Kendall luthier

Category: Courses, Sylva Wood Centre
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Growing Forests of Opportunity & Innovation

posted on November 20, 2017

A beautiful oak sculpture — one of 11 to be located across the UK — was unveiled at the Sylva Wood Centre in Oxfordshire on 18th November to celebrate the new Charter for Trees, Woods and People.

Unveiling the Charter Pole at Sylva Wood Centre

Unveiling the Charter Pole at the Sylva Wood Centre

2017 has been a momentous year for our trees with the launch of a new Charter for Trees, Woods and People on 6th November. Launched to coincide with the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest, it comes at a time when our trees and woodlands are threatened by pests and land-use change, while society is ever more aware of how important trees are to life on Earth.

Oxfordshire-based environmental charity Sylva Foundation has been active at the heart of the national campaign leading up to the launch of the new Charter for Trees, Woods and People. It helped gather stories from hundreds of woodland owners across the country, and hosted the creation of a collection of sculptures to commemorate the moment. At the Sylva Wood Centre in south Oxfordshire, one of its resident craftspeople, sculptor Simon Clements, was commissioned by the Woodland Trust to create 11 ‘Charter Poles’.

Each sculpture or ‘Charter Pole’ features one of the 10 Charter principles, and will be unveiled in locations across the UK, from Edinburgh, Belfast, and Cardiff, to Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool. The 11th and ‘Champion’ pole was at the centre of the launch celebrations held at Lincoln Castle on 6th November.

On Saturday 18th November one of the Charter Poles was unveiled at the Sylva Wood Centre. The pole represents Growing Forests of Opportunity & Innovation, which is fitting given the work undertaken by Sylva Foundation and its hosted craftspeople. It was made from the giant stem of an oak tree donated by the Crown Estates and supplied via Grown in Britain. Its design depicts sawn timber boards with sticks placed between them, in the way that a freshly-sawn trunk is processed to allow the boards to air-dry before being used by craftspeople. Words from a poem written by Harriet Fraser are carved in a wooden ribbon which wraps around the 15 foot (3m) sculpture:

to see the wood within the trees
and nurture both
is art and science

life cycling through earth, light and hands
a tender turning: work and beauty,
legacies growing

Before the unveiling the sculpture was hidden under a silk ‘canopy’ made by local artist Jezella Pigott with help of local schoolchildren. The schools involved were Long Wittenham CofE primary School, and Willowcroft Community School in Didcot. The canopy was unwrapped by Woodland Trust CEO Beccy Speight, with the help of the children, to reveal the Charter Pole for the first time.

Gabriel Hemery, Sylva Foundation CEO, commented:

“It’s been wonderful to watch sculptor Simon Clements at work over many months here at the Sylva Wood Centre, and we hope that many people will come along and watch the unveiling of this stunning oak sculpture.”

“The Woodland Trust have been an inspiration to all of us involved with trees and forestry in leading the creation of the Tree Charter, and we’ve benefited massively from their support in being able to celebrate its launch here in Oxfordshire.”

Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust CEO said:

“Following involvement from over 70 organisations, more than 100,000 members of the public and at least 300 community groups the Charter’s 10 guiding principles redefine the relationship people in the UK have with trees and woods. We’re delighted that Sylva is the location for the Utility and Livelihoods pole. The Charter’s ambition was and is to place trees and woods at the centre of national decision making, and back at the heart of our lives and communities. The new charter will redefine the relationship with people and trees in the UK for present and future generations, providing guidance and inspiration for policy, practice and attitude, across Government, businesses, communities and individuals.”

 

 

 


The Charter for Trees, Woods and People

In 1217, two years after the Magna Carta was signed by King John, his heir Henry III signed the Charter of the Forest. The aim of this document was to protect the rights of people to access and use the Royal Forests. The Charter of the Forest provides a window to a time in history when access to woods was integral to the life. Being denied access for grazing livestock, collecting firewood and foraging for food was a real concern for the people of the time.

More than 70 organisations from across multiple sectors have joined forces to create a new Charter for Trees, Woods and People that will guide policy and practice in the UK. We believe the people of the UK have a right to the many benefits brought by trees and woods. The new Tree Charter was launched on 6 November 2017, to recognise, celebrate and protect this right.

www.treecharter.uk

 

 


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Shapes of Trees – an evening of music

posted on November 9, 2017

Tickets are still available for The Shapes of Trees event – an evening of music at the Sylva Wood Centre on 16th November. The event is part of our Winter Festival of Trees, Woods and People which is promoting the launch of the ‘Tree Charter’.

Event profits to Sylva Foundation. Read more and purchase tickets

Shapes of Trees - 16th November 2017

Shapes of Trees – 16th November 2017

WOOD FESTIVAL & SYLVA FOUNDATION present

an evening of music inspired by Trees, Woods and People

featuring

DANNY GEORGE WILSON

JACKIE OATES & MEGAN HENWOOD

ROBIN BENNETT (The Dreaming Spires, Wood Festival)

with readings from FIONA STAFFORD

and photography by GABRIEL HEMERY

THURSDAY 16th November, 7.30-11pm

at the Sylva WOOD centre, Little Wittenham

Tickets £12.50 advance.

Licensed bar.

Event profits to the Sylva Foundation.

Read more and purchase tickets


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See us on BBC Countryfile this weekend

posted on November 2, 2017
BBC One Countryfile

Watch us on BBC One Countryfile

We’re looking forward to seeing the Sylva Wood Centre on BBC Countryfile this Sunday evening.

The programme team visited us, with presenter Matt Baker, to see sculptor Simon Clements at work on the Tree Charter Poles (read more), Nick Keighley’s mobile sawmill in action, and local school students enjoying a Forest School session in young woodland in the Future Forest and woodland on the Earth Trust’s neighbouring land.

The programme will be broadcast on 5th November at 6.15pm on BBC One. You will be able watch the programme online here

Willowcroft Community School children with Matt Baker for BBC Countryfile

Willowcroft Community School children with Matt Baker for BBC Countryfile

 

 


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Charter poles emerge from the Sylva Wood Centre

posted on October 30, 2017

The new Charter for Trees, Woods and People will launch on 6th November — the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest. Sylva Foundation has been a keen supporter of this Woodland Trust-led initiative. Last year we collected stories from hundreds of woodland owners (read more), and behind the scenes we’ve been lending our weight to help make this national celebration of trees a success. We’ve also been quietly busy at the Sylva Wood Centre, helping one of the main celebratory moments come to life in the form of 11 dramatic sculptures.

The Tree Charter Poles are being carved from 15′ oak logs by Sylva Wood Centre-based sculptor Simon Clements. Each of the sculptures represents one of the ten principles from the new Charter, while the eleventh, known as the ‘Champion Pole’, represents the Charter as a whole. The logs were donated by Crown Estates and procured by Grown in Britain.

Simon takes over the story . . .

A 15 foot oak log is quite a thing to have delivered to your door; there is no chance of missing it.  So 11 of them represent a serious log pile and that makes starting a project quite daunting especially for Nick Keighley of Face North Forestry who runs the Woodmizer mobile sawmill from his base at the Sylva Wood Centre, and had only just taken delivery of it when the logs arrived.

The original plan was to have the logs de-barked before we received them, but since the process chews up the timber so badly that we would have needed to recut them before carving, we thought it was easier to run them through the sawmill straight away. It was not an easy task as we weren’t looking for planks but a cylinder of solid oak with no sapwood or bark. This meant that Nick needed to roll the logs onto the sawmill make a pass with the saw, roll the log a few degrees make another pass then continue around the log. We provided him with a plywood disk with the correct Diameter (400mm) to act as a template, but it was very much a case of learning on the job which Nick did brilliantly.

We estimated that the 15 foot logs were about a tonne in weight after sawing so they needed very substantial trestles to support them and these needed to be adjustable to save back strain. A trip to Dave at Cobalt Blacksmith in Nuffield and some chalk drawings on the forge floor resulted in a pair of scissor-type trestles with a chain locking system. We ended up with two pairs so we could work on two poles together.

Brian is an student of mine who bravely agreed to have a go at some of the lettering and has proved to be a natural letter carver, there are around 300+ letters on each pole It takes about 15 or 20 minutes to carve each one so he is an extremely useful member of the team. Steve my other helper has left us to learn cabinet making in Lyme Regis but will be back in time to help with the last few poles in the New Year (he doesn’t know this yet!).

Once the poles were on the trestles they needed to be rounded out to remove the slabs left by the saw. The first two poles, which had gnarly grain, were planed with a 4” power planer; boring, messy and noisy. Once we had a good smooth surface to work on the poem stencils were wrapped around the pole so we could write out the poem reading from the bottom up. The poem words wrap around the pole and are carved into a ribbon with the other carvings placed between the twists of the ribbon.

Once we started work on the later poles we found that the timber was so good that it could be rounded out with a drawknife. The second and third poles were lovely to work; with long straight grain that showed pink as the drawknife sliced through the surface, and because they were denser than the previous two poles it took them longer to open up

Then it was a matter of drawing the designs directly onto the timber and starting to carve. Roughing out the designs was done with a variety of power rasps and cutters, (Rotarex and Arbourtech) on 4” angle grinders, and then followed up with carver’s gouges and mallets.

Because of the nature of green oak all the designs needed to be bold simple shapes, rather than delicate or highly undercut, as the Oak began to open up as soon as it was placed on the trestles. Each pole required about 30 hours of drawn design work which was sent to the Woodland Trust to be signed off before work could begin.

It has been a personal highlight seeing these huge slightly pink oak poles rounded out and made ready for the carver’s chisels. Of course so far the poles are all sitting horizontally in storage after our work is complete, and though they look good and very intriguing, I’m really looking forward to seeing the champion pole go up, which will be the first pole to be lifted into place on its custom made stone plinth in the grounds of Lincoln castle.

Simon Clements
www.simonclements.info

Find out more and sign the new Charter at: treecharter.uk/sign


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