A discussion about Wood Culture

posted on July 23, 2020

Recently, Sylva Foundation CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery was interviewed by Tom Barnes, Director of Vastern Timber, about Wood Culture. They discussed public perspectives of forestry and the need to recreate an affinity between society and the natural world.


With thanks to Vastern Timber.

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Renovation of the old Grain Store

posted on March 9, 2020

Despite the wet winter we’ve been busy at the Sylva Wood Centre completing the renovation of our old Grain Store. We’ve just completed this timelapse film, taken over several months, which finishes with the fitting of innovative thermally-modified hardwood products, including cladding, windows, and a door. The Brimstone products were provided by Vastern Timber, in turn supported by a grant from the Forestry Commission.

Oxfordshire Leader

Oxfordshire Leader

EU agricultural fund for rural development

EU agricultural fund for rural development

The building is almost unrecognisable from its former state, clad in asbestos and fit only for storage. Most visitors are convinced it is a completely new build.

Our thanks to all those who’ve worked on the building, and to our funders Oxfordshire Leader.


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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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A future forest in the making

posted on June 5, 2017

Seen from the offices of Sylva Foundation, we’ve had a privileged view of the making of the new Future Forest (if not a little work in making it all happen!). Over the span of seven months we’ve taken a photograph most days looking south across the field. We’ve added all these together to make a two-minute timelapse which features the last arable crop being harvested, the arrival of archaeologists, surveying the ground and marking it out, planting with our new Forest Friends, and finally the emergence of a stunning display of wildflowers.


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Kubota UK supports the Sylva Future Forest

posted on April 18, 2017

Kubota UK, one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of agricultural, construction, groundcare equipment and industrial engines, has teamed up with Sylva Foundation, an environmental charity, to support the local community and its surrounding landscape.

Kubota launched its partnership with the charity by taking part in an ‘Earth, Wind and Fire’ event at the Sylva Foundation Wood Centre, situated in the South Oxfordshire countryside.

Kubota employees planted 25 trees throughout a 10×10 metre plot as part of the Sylva Foundation Future Forest scheme, which allows people to build a lasting affinity with a growing woodland by sponsoring their own plot. The new initiative spans over three hectares and contains 325 individual plots that can be sponsored by individuals, families, schools and businesses.

Speaking of the partnership, Candice Dillingham, HR Manager for Kubota UK, said: “Working with the Sylva Foundation is such a natural and organic fit for Kubota as the charity’s commitment to the safekeeping of the natural environment and creating a sustainable future is very similar to our own.”

“The Earth, Wind and Fire event was a fantastic experience for all of the Kubota employees involved. As we are one of the biggest employers in Thame, we are dedicated to giving back to the local community, so being able to support and develop the region’s natural landscape allows us to do just that.”

Throughout the day Kubota employees planted a range of trees, including Japanese red cedar and wild cherry to name but a few. Employees were also offered the opportunity to explore the 14 operational wood-based businesses located on site, allowing them to meet with different experts and craftsmen. Here they could see how versatile the various types of wood are and how their applications can vary exponentially.

Gabriel Hemery, Chief Executive of Sylva Foundation, said:

“At Sylva we help people and trees grow together. Being able to work alongside Kubota UK to help fulfil this mission has already been a great experience for all involved. The newly-planted trees demonstrate the beginning of a working countryside that will help to connect local people to the natural environment around them.

“As both organisations have so much in common, it’s fantastic that we can work together to support good countryside management throughout Oxfordshire.”

The event marks just the beginning of the partnership between Kubota UK and the Sylva Foundation, with Kubota employees being able to tend to their trees and watch them develop over the coming years.

To find out more about Kubota and its market-leading range of agricultural, construction and groundcare machinery solutions, visit and to find out more about the Sylva Foundation and its range of sponsorship opportunities, visit

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Stepping into the Future Forest

posted on November 12, 2016

Regular supporters will be aware we are planting the Future Forest at the Sylva Wood Centre this winter. Our CEO Gabriel Hemery visited the planting site recently with lifestyle woodworker Paul Sellers to talk about the vision for the Future Forest and how people can get involved.

Future Forest Promotion with thanks to Woodworking Masterclasses on Vimeo.

Paul Sellers said:

“It’s very humbling really to think we’re planting a playground for children and a place for them to see it grow and be a part of their lives.”

Find out how you could support the Future Forest and perhaps give a unique gift this Christmas: read more.

Our thanks to Paul Sellers and team for their generous support



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Reflections on resilient woodlands

posted on December 3, 2015

Following the successful Royal Forestry Society and Woodland Trust conference in October, on the theme of resilient woodlands, the organisers have released a short film featuring some of the speakers, including Sylva’s CEO Gabriel Hemery.

Remarking about resilience, and reflecting on the fact that the majority (72%) of woodlands in the UK are owned privately, Gabriel said:

“It’s not really about what we think, as those who work in the environmental sector or for government, it’s actually about those who own and care for our forests.”


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Play expert Tim Gill talks about the benefits of Forest School

posted on June 16, 2014

Leading child play expert Tim Gill recently visited a Forest School site to take part in our film about the importance of bringing young people closer to the natural world. In this short extract he talks passionately about the power of Forest School. He will feature alongside educators and children in a longer film to be released soon as part of our Love Trees Love Wood campaign, which is raising funds towards environmental education.

See our campaign Facebook page (below) or visit to find out more.

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Good Woods celebrated in the New Forest

posted on April 24, 2014

To mark the end of the year-long Good Woods project in the New Forest, which has seen eight woodlands receiving advisory visits, representatives from the Sylva Foundation and B&Q met with members of the local woodland community who were carrying out coppicing and thinning operations at Honeylake Wood, New Milton.

Woodland management is particularly important in the New Forest as its woods are a hugely diverse habitat for wildlife and contain the highest population of veteran trees in western Europe.

The Good Woods team worked with the New Forest Land Advice Service to deliver the project in the New Forest and the surrounding areas.

Chris Balcombe

Left to right: Julia Griffin, B&Q Corporate Social Responsibility; Alison Barnes, New Forest National Park Authority Chief Executive; Alistair Yeomans, Sylva Foundation (photo by Chris Balcombe).

Julia Griffin, B&Q Corporate Social Responsibility, said: ‘It was great to see Good Woods in action in Honeylake Woods and to see first-hand what a difference the project is making on the ground.

The ultimate aim of Good Woods is to invigorate the current generations’ appreciation of trees and woods and realise the potential that British woodlands can play in all of our lives, both now and in the future.’

Georgianna Watson, New Forest Land Advice Service Advisor said: ‘Good Woods was a great project to be involved in, as all the woodland owners and managers that I spoke with were really keen to manage their woodlands more successfully. All participants were eager to learn about management skills that would allow their timber to become economically viable‘.

Better woodland management will directly benefit the New Forest in a number of ways, such as improved resilience to disease outbreaks and extreme weather, better habitats for wildlife and increased local timber supply.


About the New Forest Land Advice Service

The New Forest Land Advice Service is available to landowners and occupiers who would like advice and support on a wide range of issues relating to land management. The advisors operate across the National Park, the Avon Valley and the coastal plain. Since the service started in 2010 it has advised more than 300 businesses.
The service offers:

• A free and independent service for the land managing community in and around the New Forest and Avon Valley
• Support for landowners, farmers, New Forest Commoners, equine owners, graziers and community groups
• Advice to anyone who owns or manages a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) in the area
• A small grant scheme which can support capital works which benefit the landscape, biodiversity and cultural heritage of the area.

To find out more about the New Forest Land Advice Service, or arrange a visit, please call 01590 646696 or email

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect – Enjoy – Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:
• Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park – Protect
• Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.
We also have a duty to:
• Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Good Woods - for people, for nature

Visit the Good Woods web page

The Good Woods project is a novel project aiming to breathe new life into UK woodlands. The project—a joint initiative between DIY giant B&Q, sustainability charity BioRegional and forestry charity The Sylva Foundation—will revive woodlands to provide environmental, social and economic benefits.

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Good Woods project celebrated in film

posted on March 28, 2014

To mark the end of the first year of the Good Woods Project the partners have released a film highlighting the achievements of the project in its inaugural year.

The Good Woods project, launched in January 2013, resulted from a partnership between Sylva Foundation, leading home improvement and garden centre retailer B&Q, and sustainability charity BioRegional. The project aimed to improve the environmental, social, and economic values of woodlands.

BioRegional and Sylva worked with Lantern, sustainability consultants, to establish and support a network of organisations and advisors which included: Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty; Wildlife Trusts; Woodland charities; and professional foresters. We are very grateful for the hardwork and dedication by all.


Over the last year the Good Woods project team has been working to improve the levels of woodland stewardship in the South East and East of England.

Key achievements to date:

  • Supported 235 land owners and managers, caring for 10,900 ha of woodland, with tools and training in woodland management, linked to the freely available myForest service;
  • Developed the new Woodland Star Rating to encourage and communicate the benefits of sustainable forest management in woodlands, and help demonstrate what good woodland stewardship means to the general public;
  • Provided training in woodland management and community engagement to 20 community groups.
  • Worked with B&Q and its suppliers to better understand the barriers and opportunities to source more sustainably produced timber from UK woodlands.
  • Developed a Stakeholder and Community Engagement Guide – to help woodland owners and managers communicate forestry activities to the public (to be published shortly).
  • Created a Woodland Producer’s Pack to assist woodland owners in assessing their woodland for the full range of forestry products (to be published shortly).

Moving Forward

Good Woods provides a model for providing support in Sustainable Forest Management to owners and managers of UK woodlands. This approach is coupled with a vision for strengthening the national supply chain to bringing more responsibly produced, home-grown timber into our homes and workplaces.

The project partners are currently planning the next phases of Good Woods and we will provide updates in the coming months.

Good Woods - for people, for nature

Visit the Good Woods web page

The Good Woods project is breathing new life into UK woodlands. The project—a joint initiative between DIY giant B&Q, sustainability charity BioRegional and forestry charity The Sylva Foundation—aims to revive woodlands to provide environmental, social and economic benefits.

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