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Oxfordshire Ash Summit

posted on June 11, 2019

oXaSHOn 22nd May, a group of stakeholders with an interest in ash dieback in Oxfordshire, gathered together at the Sylva Wood Centre in south Oxfordshire. The meeting was convened by Sylva Foundation to consider the risks, impacts, and communication issues relating to ash dieback.

Introductory talks were made by Nick Mottram (Oxfordshire County Council), Gabriel Hemery (Sylva Foundation), Rob Coventry (Forestry Commission), and Louise Hill (Oxford University). Afterwards, the main business of the day followed, with a series of sessions during which groups considered three key areas in turn, each building on a previous iteration:

  1. Risks
  2. Environmental Impacts
  3. Communications

The whole process is aiming to co-ordinate an effective response in to ash dieback Oxfordshire and ultimately to foster a sustainable treescape. We will be building on the experiences of three other English counties that have made significant progress in rallying round the cause of ash dieback (Devon, Leicestershire, and Kent), and consider the action plan template provided by the Tree Council. Links to these and other documents are included in the meeting minutes (see below).

Oxfordshire Ash Summit

Oxfordshire Ash Summit, Sylva Wood Centre, 22nd May 2019

The main outcome of the meeting was an agreement to reconvene in the autumn to progress collaboration and possible development of an Ash Dieback Action Plan for the county. A full minute of the meeting, including links to various documents which can be downloaded, is available to download here

The Oxfordshire Ash Workshop was funded by Oxfordshire County Council.

Category: FORESTRY, SCIENCE
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Artweeks 2019

posted on May 9, 2019

We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors, friends old and new, to the Sylva Wood Centre during the next two weekends for Oxfordshire Artweeks. Open each day from 10am-5pm. Free parking. Café, with lots to see and do for all the family.

Artweeks flier 2019

Artweeks flier 2019

We have a webpage dedicated to the exhibition at www.sylva.org.uk/artweeks


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Ash dieback is predicted to cost £15 billion in Britain

posted on May 6, 2019

A research paper of considerable importance has been published today, which estimates the cost of ash dieback in Britain to be £15 billion. Sylva Foundation took a central role in the work, the research being led by Oxford-Sylva scholar Dr Louise Hill while she completed her DPhil at the University of Oxford under the Oxford-Sylva Graduate Scholarship programme (now sadly lapsed due to lack of funding). Sylva Foundation CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery acted as an external supervisor for Dr Hill, and is a co-author of the paper.


A team of researchers from the University of Oxford, Fera Science, Sylva Foundation and the Woodland Trust has calculated the true economic cost of Ash dieback – and the predictions, published today in Current Biology, are staggering:

  • The total cost of Ash dieback to the UK is estimated to be £15 billion
  • Half of this (£7 billion) will be over the next 10 years
  • The total cost is 50 times larger than the annual value of trade in live plants to and from Britain, which is the most important route by which invasive plant diseases enter the country
  • There are 47 other known tree pests and diseases that could arrive in Britain and which may cost an additional £1 billion or more

The predicted costs arise from clearing up dead and dying trees and in lost benefits provided by trees, e.g. water and air purification and carbon sequestration. The loss of these services is expected to be the biggest cost to society, while millions of ash trees also line Britain’s roads and urban areas, and clearing up dangerous trees will cost billions of pounds.

Dr Louise Hill, researcher at Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford and lead author of the study, said:

‘The numbers of invasive tree pests and diseases are increasing rapidly, and this is mostly driven by human activities, such as trade in live plants and climate change. Nobody has estimated the total cost of a tree disease before, and we were quite shocked at the magnitude of the cost to society. We estimate the total may be £15 billion – that’s a third more than the reported cost of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in 2001. The consequences of tree diseases for people really haven’t been fully appreciated before now.’

Dr Nick Atkinson, senior conservation advisor for the Woodland Trust and co-author of the paper, said:

‘When Ash dieback first entered the country, no one could have fully predicted the devastating impact it would have on our native habitats. To see how this has also affected our economy speaks volumes for how important tree health is, and that it needs to be taken very seriously. It is clear that to avoid further economic and ecological impacts, we need to invest more in plant biosecurity measures. This includes better detection, interception and prevention of other pests and diseases entering the country. We need to learn from past mistakes and make sure our countryside avoids yet another blow.’

The scientists say that the total cost could be reduced by replanting lost ash trees with other native trees, but curing or halting the disease is not possible. They advise that the government’s focus now has to be on preventing introductions of other non-native diseases to protect our remaining tree species.

Recommendations:

  • A nationwide replanting scheme could reduce the overall cost by £2.5 billion, by ensuring that lost ecosystem services are replaced
  • Greater focus on and investment in biosecurity and sourcing of safe plant material is needed to keep new diseases out
  • Introduce far tighter controls on imports of all live plants for planting, as this is the largest pathway through which tree diseases are introduced

Background:

Ash dieback is a fungal disease, originally from Asia, which is lethal to Europe’s native ash trees. It was first found in Britain in 2012 and is thought to have been brought to the UK years earlier on infected imported ash trees. It is expected to kill 95-99% of ash trees in Britain.

 

Read the full paper here:     www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(19)30331-8

Paper DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.03.033

 

ENDS

For more information or to request images, please contact the University of Oxford press office at ruth.abrahams@admin.ox.ac.uk or 01865 280730.

Or the Woodland Trust press office at HollieAnderson@woodlandtrust.org.uk or 01476 581121


Notes to editors

The University of Oxford has been placed number 1 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for the third year running, and at the heart of this success is its ground-breaking research and innovation. The university is world-famous for research excellence and home to some of the most talented people from across the globe. Their work helps the lives of millions, solving real-world problems through a huge network of partnerships and collaborations. The breadth and interdisciplinary nature of its research sparks imaginative and inventive insights and solutions.

Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity working to bring trees and people closer together. It formed the Oxford-Sylva Graduate Scholarship, which co-funded lead author Dr Louise Hill, to foster a robust tree and forest resource in the face of environmental change. It has played a lead role in developing a climate change action plan for Britain’s forests. www.sylva.org.uk

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife. The Trust has three key aims:  i) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable, ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life, iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife. Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares. Access to its woods is free.

Fera Science Limited, formerly the Food and Environment Research Agency, is a joint private/public sector venture between Capita plc and Defra. Using original thinking applied to support sustainable global food security our vision is to support our partners to respond to the challenges ahead through original thinking and world-class science. Fera turns expertise and innovation into ways to support and develop a sustainable food chain, a healthy natural environment, and to protect the global community from biological and chemical risks.

This work was partially funded by the Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs.


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Sylva Foundation celebrates ten years

posted on April 25, 2019

Ten years ago, in March 2009, Sylva Foundation was registered as a charity. Our small and dedicated team seems to be busier than ever, so we’re not celebrating in any major way, other than adding the dates to our logo during our tenth year.

Sylva Foundation 2009-2019

Sylva Foundation 2009-2019. Click to view full size version (large file)

We’re looking forward to the year ahead. Here are some of our planned activities for 2019:

  • Publish our report on the survey Bringing Children Closer to Nature (read more) and take more action to support outdoor learning across England
  • Complete further reverse auctions  (e.g. natural flood management in the Somerset Levels), to deliver innovative solutions for sustainable land management
  • Reconstruct the House of Wessex on our land with help from volunteers (read more and get involved)
  • Deliver a wide range of practical courses with our new Head of Wood School (read more and sign up)
  • Welcome hundreds of people to the Sylva Wood Centre during Oxfordshire Artweeks
  • Renovate another derelict farm building at the Sylva Wood Centre to support more business enterprise and innovation
  • Develop a mobile app for myForest
  • Deliver learning and support for sustainable woodland management
  • Support an Ash Summit for Oxfordshire

Thank you to all our friends and supporters who have worked with us over the last ten years. Here’s to a sustainable future!

Category: Announcements
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Creating a marketplace for ecosystem services

posted on March 7, 2019

Over the last five years Sylva Foundation has been collaborating with departments at the University of Oxford to create a marketplace for ecosystem services. The Naturetrade project was funded by the EU’s Life programme. The project has now come to a close and the project consortium is keen to hear from current and potential users about the online marketplace. Please read on to find out more and how to take the survey.

Naturetrade homepage

Naturetrade homepage

We are now ready to test it on a wider audience of land managers and businesses with an interest in supporting sustainability. Your feedback on the mapping tool will be of help to us in developing ideas to take this forward from a demonstration project to a useable tool that will help supplement finance schemes aimed at preventing the loss of ecologically-diverse land in Europe.
We have prepared a very short survey that is split into two parts: (a) questions to establish what your relationship to land management in Europe is; and (b) feedback on the tool. We invite you to test the mapping capability of NaturEtrade and its potential to assess the ecosystem services of your land, or to test the possibility of finding land on the system that you can sponsor via a contract for maintaining ecosystem services. Two small caveats: we demonstrate how money can be exchanged via contracts to maintain ecosystem services, but no monetary transactions are being processed during this demonstration phase; and land parcels already published on the demonstration site are either taken directly from the UK Land Registry or have been hand-drawn in workshops. We do not own these properties.

Take part in the survey


Read more about Naturetrade

NaturEtrade is web-based mapping tool that demonstrates a novel approach to the problem of supporting environmentally-sensitive land stewardship practices in Europe. Land managers can easily and rapidly assess the ecosystem services provided by their land, and then “trade” these services in contracts with businesses who have an interest in supporting sustainable land management.

Land managers are very familiar with Government grants that help them conserve important biological and cultural features of their land, but very little is known about how non-Government incentive schemes might work in practice. This innovative project demonstrates how landowners and businesses in European countries can utilise the tools and technologies we have developed to trade in the commodity ‘ecosystem services’. In our project, the term ‘trade’ may be understood to mean ‘sponsor’ as no property changes hands, but a commitment to maintain the ecosystem services of land registered on NaturEtrade is set up by mutual agreement between two parties.

Working with stakeholders in four different European countries over the last five years, the project has developed a set of tools and technologies that bridges the gap between academic research and policy on ecosystem service provision. The project has been funded by the EU’s LIFE+ programme.

www.naturetrade.ox.ac.uk


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Managing Woodland for Wildlife

posted on February 28, 2019

Tuesday, 26th March 2019, 1030-1530

Teaching Barn, Sylva Wood Centre

Learn how to manage your woodland for wildlife.

Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

The day will include:

  •  General background on wildlife associated with your woodland
  • How to manage your woodland to encourage wildlife
  • How to deal with potential conflicting needs between species
  • Using the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit
  • Use the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit to create an action plan for your woodland.
  • Walk through a local woodland assessing its value for wildlife

There will also be an opportunity to have a tour of the Sylva Wood Centre and hear more about the Making Local Woods Work project.

book-now

book-now

Cost:                    FREE –  18 places.  Book here

Venue:                 Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor:                   Nigel Symes (RSPB) and Paul Orsi (Sylva Foundation)

Bring:                   Laptop (if possible) for practical session. Boots/waterproofs for woodland walk.

Making Local Woods Work

Funded by Making Local Woods Work

 

 


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Forestry Skills Plan published

posted on February 12, 2019

The Forestry Skills Forum has produced a five-year plan to promote education, skills, learning and development across the forestry sector in England and Wales, while maintaining close links with the equivalent group in Scotland.

The Forestry Skills Plan identified four key themes for action:

  1. talent attraction
  2. employer support
  3. education provision
  4. skills and technical knowledge.
Forestry Skills Plan 2019

Forestry Skills Plan 2019 – click to download

Each theme has several work strands. The plan takes each theme in turn and develops their work strands into action plans.

Sylva Foundation’s Head of Forest Education, Jen Hurst, who currently chairs the Forest Education Network for England, commented:

“The Forestry Skills Action Plan is the successful result of research, collaboration and partnership between many forestry skills and forest education organisations in England. England’s forestry sector urgently needs more people all ages and backgrounds to choose a rewarding and exciting career pathway in our woodlands and forests; this action plan identifies clearly how this will be done.”

The plan is owned by the Forestry Skills Forum, and delivered by the Forum members. It is hosted on the website of the Royal Forestry Society.

About the Forestry Skills Forum

The Forestry Skills Forum is dedicated to promoting education, skills, learning and development across the forestry sector in England and Wales, and maintains close links with the equivalent group in Scotland. Members comprise the sector’s leading authorities, charities, companies, educational institutions and training providers. They represent all areas of the sector, including employers, trade associations, education providers, funders, research centres, and include specialists in all age groups: early years, primary, secondary, further and higher education. The FSF is an independent group, supported by Forestry Commission England.

Category: EDUCATION
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Timber-framing and Raising courses July 2019

posted on February 4, 2019

We are running a series of one-day timber-framing and raising courses at the Sylva Wood Centre, run by the Carpenters’ Fellowship. Come and learn jointing, framing-up, hand-rearing roof trusses, and fitting purlins and ridge pieces using traditional tools and techniques.

House of Wessex timber frame

House of Wessex timber frame

During this unique timber-framing and raising course you will develop skills and knowledge in the making and raising of a timber-frame using traditional tools and techniques.

You will be working alongside highly-skilled craftspeople, helping to make and raise the timber frame of the House of Wessex during the course. Each one-day course is one of five courses being run between 3rd and 7th July. You may book on more than one day by simply registering separately for each day. Please note that the work will be physically demanding, so please take this into account before booking multiple days!

Teaching will be provided by highly experienced craftspeople in the Carpenters’ Fellowship. Learning will include a selection of the following, catering for a wide range of skill and experience :

  • Completing treewrighting on parts of the timber frame
  • Fitting of wall plates onto posts which will be set into the ground
  • Jointing and framing-up the roof trusses
  • Hand-rearing the roof trusses
  • Fitting pulins and ridge pieces
Treewrighting and timber framing

Treewrighting and timber framing

At the conclusion of the five days, the frame will be complete and ready for fixing of wattle hurdles on the roof, and other stages of construction including thatching (also offered as a course).

Full training will be provided (no prior experience necessary). The course will be outdoors in all weathers, so you will need to wear appropriate clothing (sun and rain).

Drinks and hot food will be provided, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight camping (bring your own tent) may be available on the site, or locally. More details will follow your booking.

In addition, a programme of evening events (i.e. beyond the end of the formal course) will take place across the five days (3-7 July). The exact nature of these on any particular day will vary, but may include a range of talks on relevant craft and history, and social events.

 

Date

 

Book here

 

Wednesday, 3rd July 2019 book-now
Thursday, 4th July 2019 book-now
Friday, 5th July 2019 book-now
Saturday, 6th July 2019 book-now
Sunday, 7th July 2019 book-now

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Woodland Wildlife Toolkit launched

posted on January 29, 2019

Today sees the launch of a new online toolkit that provides advice on managing woodlands for wildlife, in particular rare and declining species that are dependent on woodland habitats. The Woodland Wildlife Toolkit is aimed at anyone who owns or manages a woodland, or advises others about woodland management.

The Woodland Wildlife Toolkit contains three main tools:

  1. Search your wood’s wildlife to help you:
    • Find out which important wildlife is likely to be in or near your woodland based on available survey or distribution data
    • Understand the habitats and features that these species need
    • Provide these habitats through practical woodland management
  2. Assess your wood’s condition to get an overview of the condition of your wood’s habitats and identify any issues you may need to address.
  3. Woodland guidance for practical advice on management techniques, information on woodland management issues and legal considerations. A series of species factsheets provides summary information for all the species in the toolkit.
Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

Data behind the toolkit has been sourced from a wide number of sources which are detailed on the website. Examples include data from the Bat Conservation Trust, British Trust for Ornithology, Butterfly Conservation, Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, British Lichen Society, British Mycological Society, Fungus Conservation Trust, People’s Trust for Endangered Species, and the National Biodiversity Network.

Paul Orsi, Director of Operations for Sylva Foundations, said:

We were delighted to be asked to develop the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit by the partnership behind the project. At the heart of good woodland stewardship is a woodland management plan, backed by information about the wildlife it contains. This is why we have also enabled a shared login between the toolkit and our myForest platform which supports management planning.

Helen Booker, Acting SW England Conservation Manager (who leads the project for RSPB), said:

Much of our wildlife that relies on woodland is in decline. This new, innovative toolkit offers locally focussed guidance to woodland owners and managers to help them cater for the needs of this wildlife. We hope it will become the go-to tool for woodland wildlife advice.

The toolkit is being launched today at a special event hosted by the National Forest, during which presentations were delivered by senior staff from many of its supporters.

The Woodland Wildlife Toolkit has been supported and developed by: Bat Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Forestry Commission, Natural England, Plantlife, RSPB, Sylva Foundation and Woodland Trust.

Visit the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit: www.woodlandwildlifetoolkit.org.uk


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Traditional thatching courses

posted on January 28, 2019

Learn about traditional and sustainable early thatching methods, including those to be used on the live reconstruction of the Anglo-Saxon, House of Wessex. 

10th-14th August 2019 (five one-day courses)

Led by Alan Jones, Conservation Carpenter and Master Thatcher, a leading thatcher in experimental archaeology and historical reconstructions since the early eighties. Each of the five one-day courses is centred on the thatching on the newly reconstructed timber House of Wessex at Sylva Foundation, south of Oxford.

 

Thatching with Alan Jones

Thatching with Alan Jones

You will learn how to use the materials and techniques to be used on the roof including laying turf over wattle hurdles, processing straw into yelms and bundles spar coating the thatch, dressing with a Leggett and gaining the required depth of fixings and overall depth of coat work.

The course will also include slide show and talk about evolution of our relationship with cereals as a food and shelter crop.  There will be the opportunity to mill grain into flour and taste bread made from the wheat straw from the roof.

Course content

  • Lecture of history and development of thatching in the UK.
  • Handling and processing the straw.
  • Applying turf to the hurdles.
  • Learning techniques for applying thatch to the roof at required thickness.
  • Spar coating the straw securely into position.
  • Dressing of the thatch to gain the desired shape.

Details

  • Small groups to allow for an intimate learning experience
  • Delegates can complete one or more days at £75 per day (discount for all five days, see below)
  • Delegates that complete 5 days may be invited to volunteer and complete the thatch on the House of Wessex reconstruction

Essential Requirements

Delegates are required to:

  • Have a good level of fitness
  • Be able to work at heights
  • Provide their own clothing suitable for work outdoors in all weathers
  • Provide their own safety boots
  • Provide your own food and drink

We are offering five one-day courses, run back-to-back.

Cost £75 per day. Click to book:

Saturday, 10th August

Sunday, 11th August

Monday, 12th August

Tuesday, 13th August

Wednesday, 14th August

We are pleased to offer a special discount if you want to attend all five days.

Five days for the price of four, at only £300. Offer only available by phoning us.

Please contact us on 01865 408018 to book for all 5 days, and have your payment card ready.

Location
Sylva Wood Centre
Little Wittenham Rd
Long Wittenham, OXF OX14 4QT
United Kingdom
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund


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