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.



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Auction of Special Edition Prints from The New Sylva – now live

posted on July 2, 2015

The drawings in the award-winning book The New Sylva were created by internationally-renowned artist Sarah Simblet while she was artist-in-residence for the Sylva Foundation. Now a selection of 80 special edition prints are being auctioned to raise money for our charitable activities.

The Auction

Sylva Foundation auction page on eBay for Charity

Sylva Foundation auction page on eBay for Charity

The 80 prints will be listed on eBay under special conditions that support charities; meaning 100% of sales proceeds come to the charity. Given the high number of items, they will be listed in batches of approximately ten items over eight weeks. The auction will run through July, August and early September.

We have a created a page on our website which shows all 80 prints that will be listed in the auction:

If you see a particular print that may wish to bid on, but which is not listed yet, you can subscribe to receive notice of new items on our auction page on eBay:


The first ten prints for sale in our Online Auction. Each week we will list a new suite of ten prints.

The first ten prints for sale in our Online Auction. Each week we will list a new suite of ten prints.

About the Special Edition Prints

Artist Sarah Simblet rarely sells her work as prints. This represents a unique investment and a special opportunity for fans of her stunning drawings. Each print will be signed by Sarah Simblet, and accompanied by an attractive Certificate of Authenticity, signed by both authors of The New Sylva.

  • Printing has been calibrated by the artist to ensure the finest quality reproduction.
  • Each print will be signed by the artist Sarah Simblet.
  • Each print is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity, signed by both authors of The New Sylva.
  • A unique embossing seal is applied on both the print and certificate, the latter including a red foil backing. The seal celebrates the 350th anniversary of John Evelyn’s Sylva of 1664. It reads: The New Sylva // 1664~2014 // Special Edition Print.
  • Only one copy of each print will be sold with its accompanying certificate of authenticity, which includes the drawing title and page number from The New Sylva.

Technical information:

  • The giclee prints have been produced by a specialist fine art printmaker on 330 gsm Galerie Prestige Gold Cotton paper with light-fast inks. There are no optical brighteners employed in the production of this paper, giving longevity and crisp image stability and detail, and it is typically used for gallery and museum-quality prints.
  • The Certificate of Authenticity adopts the same font and colours used in text of The New Sylva book. It measures A4 in size, and has been produced by the same professional printmaker.
  • The 80 prints range in size. The size of this specific listing is provided at the top of the description.
  • The print and certificate will be supplied unmounted and rolled in a large diameter tube, allowing the winning bidder to mount and frame to suit the final placement of the artwork.

Visit the auction page on the Sylva Foundation website


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Wood and Trees – War and Remembrance

posted on July 2, 2014
BBC Radio 3 - Free Thinking

BBC Radio 3 – Free Thinking

Sylva CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery joined artists Paul Gough and Gail Ritchie to discuss, with presenter Samira Ahmed, the meaning of trees and wood in war and peacetime for BBC Radio 3′s Free Thinking.

Discussions ranged from Paul Nash’s paintings of blasted tree stumps in the first world war and the army’s amazing periscope trees, to today’s commemorative planting initiatives. James Taylor from the Imperial War Museum also shared some fascinating insights into the role of wood in the Great War.

The programme was broadcast on 1st July but is available on the BBC website to listen again.

Category: Media Coverage
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Learn to paint in watercolours and help raise money for Sylva

posted on June 24, 2014
Rebecca Hind working on a watercolour in our OneOak project

Rebecca Hind working on a watercolour in our OneOak project

Watercolour artist Rebecca Hind, who collaborated with Sylva in the OneOak project, is once again running a Summer school. It is based close to our offices in south Oxfordshire, and Rebecca kindly donates a proportion of income raised to our charitable work.

To find out more please visit

Category: Fundraising
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A venerable ash for The New Sylva

posted on March 18, 2013

Reblogged from The New Sylva

The authors of The New Sylva have been searching, with help from readers of their book blog, for the best example of a venerable ash tree in Britain to feature in the book. Last week our artist-in-residence, Sarah Simblet, visited the chosen tree with co-author Gabriel Hemery. It is growing in the ancient deer park at Moccas in Herefordshire, among dozens of other ancient oak and sweet chestnut trees.

The ash tree at Moccas is an indeterminable age but certainly over 500 years old – unusually old for ash that does not have the longevity of oak or sweet chestnut. Its girth measures over 8m, and its huge bole is riddled with hollows and bulbous knolls hiding the stumps of long-lost branches. While the old crown has retrenched, a classic symptom of a veteran tree, several rapidly-growing new stems have arisen to ensure a healthy living crown. Read more …

Sarah Simblet working on the composition of the venerable ash tree for The New Sylva

Sarah Simblet working on the composition of the venerable ash tree for The New Sylva

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Authors seek help in finding a venerable ash tree

posted on December 19, 2012

Reblogged from The New Sylva


The authors of The New Sylva are searching for the finest example of a common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) tree to feature in the book. They hope that our readers can help by submitting their favourite ash trees – one of which will be selected and appear in the book frontispiece.

Following the outbreak of ash dieback (Chalara fraxinea), the chapter on Ash in The New Sylva has been rewritten (see post). Reflecting on the likely impact of the pathogen on ash trees in Britain, the authors are keen to feature a majestic British ash tree in one of the most prominent positions in the book; the frontispiece. There are many known venerable and notable ash trees in the country, and surely many more lesser-known trees.

Can you propose a candidate ash tree? It could be especially grand or noble, simply have a beautiful and graceful form, have its own fascinating history, or be very ancient. It may be just your favourite ash tree.

The tree selected will be visited by the authors some time in the next three months. It will feature as a full page drawing made by Sylva’s Artist-in-Residence Sarah Simblet.

Full acknowledgement of any assistance will be provided in The New Sylva.

Read more about The New Sylva
on the author’s blog at

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OneOak tree portraits for sale

posted on March 28, 2012
Sylva shop

We have a number of limited edition prints of the OneOak tree portrait, drawn by internationally-renowned artist Sarah Simblet, still available for sale in our Sylva shop.

The prints, limited to 100 and each signed and numbered by the artist, offer a rare opportunity for the public to own a stunning reproduction of Sarah Simblet’s work.  Typically the artist sells only through her books. To date, we have sold prints of the OneOak tree portrait to buyers in Australia, United States and across Europe.

Thanks to the generosity of the artist, all proceeds go to our charitable work.

Visit the Sylva shop to find out more

Category: Art, OneOak project
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Sylva online shop launched

posted on October 31, 2011
Sylva Online Shop

We are delighted to launch our online shop. We have some wonderful works of art arising from the OneOak project that many people have expressed interest in.  To launch the shop we are initially offering a rare opportunity for people to own a limited edition print of a pen and ink drawing by internationally-renowned artist Sarah Simblet. Over the coming weeks and months we will be adding other artwork and products.

 The OneOak tree portrait

A stunning pen and ink portrait of the OneOak tree drawn by internationally renowned artist, and author of Botany for the Artist, Sarah Simblet. Generously donated to the Sylva Foundation by the artist. All proceeds from sales will be used for our charitable work. Only 100 limited edition prints have been made, and each hand signed and numbered by the artist.

Sarah Simblet is an artist, author and teacher of drawing at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford. Sarah made an original pen and ink drawing of the OneOak tree before it was felled in 2010. In the tradition of the teacher and art critic John Ruskin, her botanical drawings are a great aid to our understanding of the structure of plants by encouraging the viewer to study their intricate detail. Such meticulous drawings made by the human hand can be more compelling than photographs which are now commonplace in everyday life.

Printed with pigment-based inks on acid-free 310gsm FSC grade cotton rag paper, with UV coatings providing light-fastness in excess of 100 years. Double-mounted (where applicable) with off-white cotton rag board. All materials are sustainably sourced. Frames (where applicable) are made with FSC grade ash finished with natural wax.

For further information and prices visit our online shop.

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Top photographer captures OneOak tree in snow

posted on January 9, 2010
Sam Scott-Hunter

Sam Scott-Hunter

Top London-based photographer Sam Scott-Hunter spent a freezing afternoon today capturing the beauty of the OneOak tree after the recent heavy snowfall.

Sam will be creating an album of images that we will share online soon.  We will also be working with him to capture the beauty of the wooden products that are made from the OneOak tree in the future.

Sam has created a stunning timelapse series showing the sun setting behind the OneOak tree.

Click on the image below to view.

Timelapse photography of the OakOak in snow

Timelapse photography of the OakOak in snow

Category: Art, OneOak project
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Oak Moon

posted on January 4, 2010
Oak Moon by Rebecca Hind

Oak Moon by Rebecca Hind

Artist Rebecca Hind has been visiting the OneOak tree regularly (see previous post).  She has braved freezing temperatures and long nights to watch the tree as it changes through the seasons and through the time of the day.

Rebecca’s most recent sketch show here was inspired by a full moon.

“Our most recent full moon. Not only did it fall on New Year’s Eve, it earned the title Blue Moon, being the second brimming of the month. Folklore grants each month’s full moon at least one name, often chosen according to local preoccupation. And for December the one which fits our tree is Oak Moon. That confluence was graced with crisp clarity and spangled with stellar brightness. A gift to a painter of night skies and the OneOak. Here is a first impression of that night last week, when the frost cracked underfoot and fell in sprinkles from the branches. ”

Rebecca Hind, January 4th 2010

Category: Art, OneOak project
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