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New web software will help deer management across landscapes

posted on November 11, 2019

Environmental charity the Sylva Foundation has launched a major new version of a web platform and mobile app designed to help with the management of deer across landscapes.

Many woodlands suffer significant impacts from expanding deer populations, creating poor conditions for wildlife. Improving woodland condition requires the careful and consistent management of deer populations, often in collaboration with neighbouring owners and managers across a landscape.

Deer Manager App

Deer Manager App

Two years ago, in partnership with The Deer Initiative, Sylva Foundation released new functionality within its online woodland management platform myForest aimed at helping landowners and stalkers collect and collate deer management information. Working closely with stakeholders the charity has since been working to provide more functionality to meet additional requirements of stalkers and land managers.

Today, a completely revised myForest Deer Manager app has been launched. Alongside the app, significant improvements to the website have also been released. The development of these new platforms was supported by the Forestry Commission and Natural England.

The web platform and links to the new app can be found at: www.sylva.org.uk/myforest/deer

myForest Deer Manager mobile app

Deer Manager App on a mobile phone

Deer Manager App on a mobile phone

This app is focussed specifically on the requirements of stalkers. It helps stalkers to collect deer cull and sighting data across multiple sites to allow them to:

  • Collect cull information including, species, sex, age, larder weight and location.
  • Collect information on other deer seen during an outing.
  • Add notes that can be associated with culls or outings.
  • Export data to a spreadsheet for reporting to others or for their own records.
  • Link directly to the myForest website to allow submission of stalking information at the press of a button.

The revised app has useful functionality that can have benefits at many levels. For stalkers who wish to maintain records for their own interest it provides a really simple and efficient platform. The benefits of the system are that once the properties or woodlands are set up in the app, the stalker can use the simple drop-down menus to record culls or blank outings minimising the risk of incorrect data input and providing either themselves or a landowner/manager with invaluable data on cull and effort.

For landowners who require cull records from their own land, it helps to maintain cull records and monitor deer management activity which can be useful for internal planning and reporting, for example a Countryside Stewardship deer management plan. For larger organisations with multiple properties and deer managers the system provides user-friendly tools which reports to a conventional excel format.

Deer Management functionality on myForest website

A new suite of online tools has been designed for landowners and managers to collect, store and collate deer management information including the ability to:

  • Collect and collate cull information from multiple stalkers through linkages with the myForest Deer Manager mobile app.
  • View cull and sighting data on a map allowing managers to spot landscape patterns.
  • Export all data to a spreadsheet for further manipulation, and allow reporting to others e.g. grant bodies.

Further updates are planned to improve functionality, including adding enhanced data storage for indicators such as deer impact assessments and the ability to download bespoke reports.

Deer Manager website

Deer Manager website

Paul Orsi, Director of Operations at Sylva Foundation, said:

“By working with The Deer Initiative and other stakeholders in the sector we have been able to significantly improve the deer management functionality offered through myForest. In particular, we have made the mobile app more stalker focussed. We hope these improvements will lead to better record keeping, allowing improved management of deer populations across landscapes.”

David Jam, Executive Director of The Deer Initiative, said:

“Lethal control of wildlife, including deer management, is under increasing public scrutiny, therefore there is a greater need than ever to maintain records and provide evidence of management activity. The myForest Deer Manager app enables land and deer managers to collect detailed data easily on deer culled and deer management effort.”


Notes for Editors

Contacts

For media enquiries and to interview Sylva staff, please contact:
Paul Orsi, Director of Operations, Tel. 01865 408018, email: paul@sylva.org.uk

Why we need to manage deer

With no natural predators and extensive suitable habitat in the UK, deer are increasing in distribution and abundance. In some cases, localised overabundance can lead to deer coming into conflict with other species as well as human and land management objectives.

  • £4.5m: The cost of damage caused by deer to plantations and other commercial woodlands, according to the Scottish Forestry. The loss of natural capital value is yet to be calculated but will be significant.
  • 8,000 hectares: The area of woodland with Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) status that is currently in ‘unfavourable’ or ‘recovering’ condition due to deer impacts. This is likely to represent a fraction of the real picture, according to the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST). “Deer can affect the age diversity of a woodland, resulting in a fall in numbers of species, and strip bark off older trees, which kills them,” says Paul Wilkinson of the Wildlife Trusts.
  • 74,000: The number of road traffic accidents a year involving deer, which kill between 10-20 people, according to the RSPCA.
  • £4.3m a year: The cost of deer damage to crops, according to Defra, with the greatest damage on cereal crops in east and south-west England.
  • 50%: The decline in woodland bird numbers where deer are present, according to the University of East Anglia’s Dr Paul Dolman: “Deer will eat the understorey and so the coppices, for example, lose their shrub layer. That can be a problem for nightingales and other long-distance migrants, such as willow warblers, chiffchaffs and blackcaps.
  • 2019 State of Nature Report Increasing deer numbers (both native species such as Roe and non-natives such as Muntjac), have a heightened impact on woodland and its dependent wildlife as they reduce natural regeneration and alter woodland structure through increased grazing and browsing.

Sylva Foundation

Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity registered in England and Wales (No.1128516) and in Scotland (No.SC041892). It aims to help Britain’s trees and woodlands thrive for people and for nature. Sylva Foundation believes that a dynamic relationship between people and the natural environment is critically important for a sustainable future. Its online woodland management platform myForest is used by more than 5,500 owners and 1,200 agents across Britain to care for almost 1,000 km2 of woodland. www.sylva.org.uk

The Deer Initiative

The Deer Initiative is a broad partnership of statutory, voluntary and private sector interests dedicated to ‘ensuring the delivery of a sustainable wild deer population in England and Wales’ (www.thedeerinitiative.co.uk). The Partners include organisations as the RSPCA, RSPB and Highways England. All the members of the Partnership abide by the principles of the Deer Accord and encourage others to share their commitment and priorities as an integral part of their management of deer. E-mail: media@thedeerinitiative.co.uk 


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myForest supports landscape-scale deer management

posted on October 6, 2017

Thanks to new online technology, landowners and managers now have the ability to create deer management plans and collect and share data more easily to manage and monitor deer population impacts across the landscape, helping to improve the environmental condition of woodlands.

Sylva Foundation has been working with the Deer Initiative to allow landowners and managers to create Deer Management Plans and collate annual monitoring data using the myForest Service.  The project has been jointly funded by Forestry Commission England and Natural England.

All six species of deer in Britain have increased in density and range over the last 40 years. As deer populations have increased, their impact on ground flora and the structure of woods is greater than ever before. In particular, fallow and muntjac deer have had a significant impact on lowland woodlands. Deer may benefit woodland biodiversity at low population densities, but at high densities, their browsing alters three important elements in a woodland: regeneration potential, woodland structure, and ground flora diversity and abundance. Impacts on these elements have ramifications for wildlife which depend on them for habitat and food. Species affected include populations of butterflies and other invertebrates, smaller mammals, birds, and their predators.

Deer management priority areas in England

Deer management priority areas in England

Collaborative management of deer populations at a landscape-scale is seen as critically important in helping to address issues arising from high deer populations in woodlands. Under this joint initiative, five priority areas (see map) have been identified in England where deer are having a damaging impact on important sites, such as woodlands designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. In these priority areas landowners can receive additional support from the Deer Initiative to organise collaborative action across landscapes.

Operations and Research Director for the Deer Initiative, Alastair Ward, said:

“The launch of these new online tools are an important step forward in managing deer collaboratively. The ability for users to share data (should they wish to) will also allow data to flow quickly and easily providing contemporary information on the impact of deer populations on the landscape.”

Director for Forestry and Rural Enterprise at Sylva Foundation, Paul Orsi, said:

“We are delighted to see the functionality we’ve developed in myForest being used to help with deer management. High deer populations are having a huge impact on the regeneration potential of our woodlands which affects them both environmentally and economically.  We hope the system will lead to more owners and managers creating deer management plans, and managing their deer populations”.

myForest is a web-based management tool for woodland owners and managers. Launched eight years ago it is now used by over 3,500 owners and managers covering an area of almost 56,000ha. It has a directory of almost 800 woodland and wood-based businesses. From 6th October myForest users will be able to use the system to create a Deer Management Plan, using the Deer Initiative’s template. Creating a Deer Management Plan is an important step towards managing deer populations. In addition, myForest will allow annual monitoring data to be stored, including cull numbers and deer impact data, from which users can automatically generate reports. To aid landscape-scale management, users can choose to share their information with local Deer Initiative Officers which will help them monitor deer impacts across landscapes allowing assistance to be prioritised. Although this deer management functionality has been specifically developed for use in the five priority areas it is hoped that it will be useful to users across England, and indeed in Scotland and Wales.

myForest deer management screenshot

A screenshot of the myForest deer management tools

Deer Manager in the Google play store

Deer Manager in the Google play store

As part of the work to add deer management functionality, myForest will gain its first mobile app. The myForest Deer Manager will allow stalkers to record cull data on the app which can then be submitted and registered on an owner or manager’s myForest account. Owners and managers will be able to keep up-to-date with cull information and remove the need for stalkers to submit paper records. The app is available now on Android and will soon be available on iOS.

Read more about the deer management functions and sign up for a myForest account online at www.myforest.org.uk/deer

Download Deer Manager App from the Apple Store

Download Deer Manager app from the Apple Store – coming soon

Download the Deer Manager app from the Google Play Store

Download the Deer Manager app from the Google Play Store


Notes for editors

Contacts
For media enquiries and to arrange an interview, please contact:
Paul Orsi, Director for Forestry & Rural Enterprise, Tel. 01865 408018, email paul@sylva.org.uk

Laura Southward, DI Media & Communications Officer, Tel. 01691 770888, email media@thedeerinitiative.co.uk

About the Partners

Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity which works across Britain to help forests thrive, for people and for nature. It works in four work programmes: science, education, forestry and wood. www.sylva.org.uk

The Deer Initiative is a broad partnership of statutory, voluntary and private interests dedicated to ensuring the delivery of a sustainable, well-managed wild deer population in England and Wales. www.thedeerinitiative.co.uk

Forestry Commission England is the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woodlands and increasing their value to society and the environment. www.forestry.gov.uk/england

Natural England is the government’s adviser for the natural environment in England, helping to protect England’s nature and landscapes for people to enjoy and for the services they provide. www.gov.uk/government/organisations/natural-england


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