Due to Covid-19, we have reduced personnel at the offices of the Sylva Foundation and our premises at the Sylva Wood Centre. Emails and phone messages are being checked but please allow a little longer than usual to receive a response.
Please do not arrange a formal visit without first checking with us. Members of the public are free to enjoy our network of permitted paths through the Future Forest as usual.

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What Future for our Iconic Oak?

posted on June 14, 2021

Forest managers and others with an interest in trees are invited to share their knowledge and expertise with a team of researchers who are aiming to discover how declining health is affecting trees across the UK, and to understand views on possible new treatments.

Future Oak project

Future Oak project

The survey is part of the Future Oak research project, led by Bangor University, and is investigating the health of oak trees in the UK. Our native oak species are increasingly under-pressure from a variety of pests, pathogens, and changes to the landscape and climate. The project focuses particularly on Acute Oak Decline (AOD) and will explore the role of micro-organisms in this disease.

The research team believes that without careful study, we will be ill-equipped to meet the challenges our forests face over the next century. Only by understanding both the science of tree response to pests, pathogens, and climate change; and the current management knowledge base and practices can we hope to counter these threats and build the resilience our woodlands require. Research of this nature is critical in developing our understanding of the issues facing oak in the UK, but without the support of Forest Managers its practical application will be limited.

Ultimately, understanding forest manager perspectives is critical to the design and deployment of any solution to tree health problems.

Please take part in the BWS2021

BWS2021

BWS2021


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British Woodlands Survey 2020 report published

posted on October 1, 2020

An independent report released today highlights that those who care for woodlands and forests across Britain are increasingly aware of the threats from environmental change, especially drought, wildfires, and pathogens, such as ash dieback and acute oak decline, yet there’s little evidence of action being taken overall to improve woodland resilience.

BWS2020 report

BWS2020 report

The 2020 edition of the British Woodlands Survey, funded by the Forestry Commission and co-ordinated by the Sylva Foundation, attracted the views of 1,055 woodland owners, agents, and forestry professionals, representing 3% of privately-owned woodland in Britain. With environmental change as its main theme, the research team from Sylva Foundation and Forest Research explored awareness, action, and aspiration among the private sector which owns 74% of forested land in Britain.

Hand-in-hand with increasing awareness and observation of environmental threats, the report highlighted concerns that many of those who own or manage woodlands are not actively planning or managing in ways which would make woodlands more resilient in future. For example, a minority of respondents had considered local climate change projections or studied the soils that support their woodlands. A key indicator that an owner or manager has considered threats from environmental change while planning to make a woodland more resilient is having a management plan compliant with UK Forestry Standard. The report’s authors highlighted that a minority (31%) of respondents had a UKFS management plan in place.

Looking to the future, many respondents indicated that they might consider creating new woodlands and planting new hedgerows or agroforestry systems in the longer-term. In the short-term, however, complexities of regulations and bureaucratic grants were seen as significant hurdles preventing more landowners from considering woodland creation. This is a concern given ambitious woodland creation plans to plant 30,000ha of trees across the UK by 2025 (see Defra blog).

The report has been published in time to inform government’s England Tree Strategy and the third Climate Change Risk Assessment, and it will underpin the work of the Forestry and Climate Change working group which oversees the delivery of an action plan promoting adaptation and resilience in England.

The report’s lead author Dr Gabriel Hemery, who is also CEO of the Sylva Foundation, commented:

‘There are a huge number of interesting findings in the report, but if I was to pick one to highlight it would be how we have unearthed a very strong relationship between current activity and future intended actions among land managers. This is significant because it points to the importance of investing more in advocacy and support for those who own or manage our woodlands. The benefits will be realised not only in their woodlands, but by nature and by society as a whole.’

Forestry Commission Chair Sir William Worsley said:

‘This independent report, which we commissioned, highlights how important it is that we continue to nurture our woodlands. They are the cornerstone of a healthy environment and crucial in the fight against climate change. We recognise the challenges that landowners face when making management decisions, and we are committed to working closely with them to support long-term management, ensuring healthy and resilient woodlands for the future.’

Simon Lloyd, Chair of the Forestry and Climate Change Working Group (FCCWG) and CEO of the Royal Forestry Society added:

‘This is an immensely useful report in our work promoting adaptation and resilience in the country’s forests. While there are some positive indications of changes in awareness and behaviour, overall it’s clear that the forestry sector is not doing enough nor reacting quickly enough to combat the climate emergency.’

A series of four online workshops during October organised by the FCCWG and hosted by the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) are being held to help support woodland managers in combating climate change. Attendance online is free to all, including ICF non-members – find out more.

The British Woodlands Survey 2020 report is freely available at: www.sylva.org.uk/bws2020

BWS2020 infographic

BWS2020 infographic


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. The first British Woodlands Survey was held in 2012 which itself built upon an important series of surveys undertaken by the Department of Land Economy at the University of Cambridge since 1963. The intention was always that a major survey was repeated every five years, while any number of additional surveys on specific themes may be run as required. The British Woodlands Survey is coordinated by Sylva Foundation and run in partnership with a large number of organisations. Summary results are always published in a report and made freely available. Where possible data collected is also used to support peer-reviewed scientific research. For more information visit: www.sylva.org.uk/bws


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British Woodlands Survey 2020 launched

posted on April 24, 2020

The British Woodlands Survey 2020 (BWS2020) has been launched and remains open until the end of June. In this new survey, researchers want to understand awareness, action and aspiration among Britain’s forestry community to environmental change.

BWS2020-logoBWS2020 comes five years after the ground-breaking British Woodlands Survey of 2015 which explored the same themes, and this new survey will allow researchers to explore changes over time. The most recent British Woodland Survey (2017) reached those responsible for managing one-fifth of all UK woodland area, and the results have influenced policy and practice at the highest levels. Researchers aim to reach even more people than in previous surveys, especially landowners, land managers, agents, tree nurseries and businesses who have an interest in our trees and forests.

BWS2020 is run by the Sylva Foundation and this year is funded by the Forestry Commission. Chief Executive of the Sylva Foundation, Dr Gabriel Hemery, said:

“The British Woodland Survey is taken seriously by decision makers among our most influential environmental bodies and organisations. We are always excited by the opportunity the survey provides for working professionals and practitioners to have their say and influence policy and practice.”

FCCWG-logo

The survey is supported by the Forestry and Climate Change Working Group whose 15 members include representatives from Confor, Country Land & Business Association, Defra, Forestry Commission, Forest Research, Future Trees Trust, Institute of Chartered Foresters, Natural England, Pryor and Rickett, Royal Forestry Society, Sylva Foundation, Tilhill, Tree Council, Woodland Heritage and Woodland Trust. The results of the survey will help shape the future agenda for this group.

You can read more and find a link to the survey here: www.sylva.org.uk/bws2020

 


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Exploring land manager views of payments for ecosystem services, networks and learning

posted on August 13, 2018

We are pleased to have contributed to a report by the Social and Economic Research Group of Forest Research, working also with the University of Oxford, exploring land owner and manager views about ecosystem services. The work is part of ongoing outcomes of the British Woodlands Survey 2017.

There is increasing interest in understanding, valuing and supporting the variety of ecosystem services that woodlands can provide. Land owners and managers can play a key role in the delivery of forest ecosystem services through active woodland management, woodland expansion and woodland creation.

Exploring land manager views of payments for ecosystem services, networks and learning

Ecosystem services

Headline results

Many land managers were not familiar with the term ecosystem services or the concept of payments for ecosystem services. However, they did often recognise that their woodlands could provide a range of benefits to society.

Quantifying forest services and benefits was thought to be particularly difficult in considering the design of any schemes that might provide payment for these services and benefits.

Read more on the Forest Research website

 


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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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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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BWS2017 attracts 1,600 respondents with 0.5Mha woodlands

posted on September 28, 2017

With just days to go until the British Woodlands Survey 2017 is closed, we are pleased to report an encouraging response with more than 1,600 stakeholders taking part. The majority (59%) of respondents have been woodland owners, with a wide cross section of those with other interests in woodlands and forestry also sharing their experiences and views (see chart below). The area of woodland represented by survey respondents considerably exceeds half a million hectares.

BWS2017-respondents to date

BWS2017-respondents to date

If you have already taken part in the survey we are very grateful – please do forward this to anyone else you know who may have an interest. If you haven’t yet taken part please consider doing so: visit www.sylva.org.uk/bws2017

The survey will close at 23:59 on Sunday 1st October.


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Your last chance to take part in the 2017 national woodlands survey

posted on September 25, 2017

British Woodlands Survey 2017

We’ve been delighted with the response over the summer months to the 2017 British Woodlands Survey. So far more than 1,600 woodland owners, agents, foresters, forest school practitioners, and forestry and wood businesses have taken part in the national web-based survey.

Devolution, pests & pathogens, Brexit, emerging markets, climate change, societal attitudes . . . these are just some of the momentous factors influencing our trees and woodlands, those who care for them, and those who rely on their products and services. Have your say about what these and other issues mean to you by taking part in Britain’s only dedicated national survey about our woodlands and forestry. This year we have unprecedented interest from policy makers, national organisations, research commissioners and others. Make sure your voice counts!

It’s not too late to take part. The survey closes to responses on Sunday 1st October at 23:59.

Please read more and take the survey: www.sylva.org.uk/bws2017


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Your chance to take part in important national survey

posted on September 11, 2017
British Woodlands Survey 2017

British Woodlands Survey 2017

To date more than 1,100 woodland owners, agents, foresters, and businesses have taken part in the British Woodlands Survey 2017. The responses received so far represent the views of those caring for more than 100,000 ha of woodland across Britain. Open until end September, we are hopeful that even more people with an interest in the future of forestry will take part before the survey closes.

With specific sections for Scotland and Wales this year, Sylva Foundation and research collaborators are particularly keen to receive more responses from those active in these countries. We are also keen to hear from more businesses. It goes without saying that we are always pleased to receive more feedback from woodland owners and agents.

take the survey

Please take the survey

British Woodlands Survey 2017 is open until end September.

www.sylva.org.uk/bws2017

 


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