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Health and Harmony – what does the future of the environment look like to you?

posted on May 1, 2018

The deadline of 8th May is fast approaching for responses to government’s public consultation about the future for food, farming, and the environment. We urge everyone with an interest in trees, woodlands, and forestry to respond.

Defra 25-yr plan

Defra 25-yr plan

Following the launch of Defra’s 25-year plan for the environment, this public consultation is seen as critically important element in shaping government plans for the environment. Strategies, policies and funding mechanisms are being designed to account for life after Brexit and the Common Agriculture Policy. Meanwhile, Defra is increasingly focussed on ‘public money for public good’.

Anyone with an interest in trees, woodlands, forestry, and timber will soon realise that the public consultation is significantly skewed towards farming and food production. We encourage everyone with an arboricultural and silvicultural interest to have their say. Whilst you are steered towards completing an online questionnaire, which can be found at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/farming/future-of-farming, given the bias towards farming you may find it more rewarding to write a separate response outlining your views. Government has made it clear that it is prepared to receive a standalone response, or alternatively you could write a letter to append to your questionnaire response, which should be emailed to agricultureconsultation@defra.gsi.gov.uk .

If you would like to back-up some of your personal views with the latest evidence among the woodland and forestry sector, you may want to read the latest British Woodlands Survey report, which contains a wealth of facts and figures on priorities and issues that hundreds of respondents provided last year, see www.sylva.org/bws. If you are a member of Confor, Royal Forestry Society, Small Woods, Institute of Chartered Foresters, CLA, and others, if may be worth checking their membership pages for advice on key issues these bodies would you like you to raise.

Deadline for responses is 11:45am on 8th May.


Read more about the consultation, including various appendices, by visiting:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-future-for-food-farming-and-the-environment


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Forestry Yard opens at Sylva Wood Centre

posted on January 29, 2018

Sylva Foundation is delighted to announce the opening of the Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre. The Forestry Yard will be occupied and run by Face North Forestry, a local and expanding forestry contracting company.

The Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre

The Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre, with Nick Keighley of Face North Forestry

The Sylva Wood Centre is a growing hub of wood-using businesses: currently 13 wood-based businesses operate from the site; from boat builders, to woodcarvers and fine furniture makers. The focus of the Sylva Wood Centre is to support the growth of wood-based businesses and in particular the use of home-grown timber. The addition of the Forestry Yard will help the Sylva Wood Centre to achieve this last goal, shortening the supply chain between woodland and end use.

Nick Keighley - Face North Forestry

Nick Keighley – Face North Forestry

Thanks to a Countryside Productivity Grant, Face North Forestry purchased a new mobile sawmill. This will allow the business to select timber to be milled, which may have previously been used for firewood, adding value and locking up carbon for the long term. This timber will be available for use by the businesses at the Sylva Wood Centre; in fact Face North Forestry are already collaborating with two of the businesses.

Meanwhile, the new forestry building was part-supported by a capital grant to Sylva Foundation from LEADER, whose funds are distributed by the Oxfordshire Leader Action Group (LAG) made up of representatives from local trusts, organisations and district councils. The LAG is chaired by South Oxfordshire district councillor Elizabeth Gillespie, who said:

“Our group visited the forestry yard and we were all impressed to see how the funds are supporting the local environment and small wood businesses based at the Sylva Wood Centre.”

Nick Keighley of Face North Forestry said:

“Moving into the Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre will allow me to grow my business. I have always been frustrated by good quality timber not being used to its full potential, but local supply chains have been decimated over the last few decades with the closure of many small sawmills. The yard will allow me to add value to the timber I fell, while being based at the Sylva Wood Centre means there is a readymade customer base for my products”

Paul Orsi, Director for Forestry at Sylva Foundation said:

“The addition of the Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre is crucial to seeing more local timber being used by the businesses we support. The development of the Forestry Yard was supported by a LEADER grant which was vital to allow us to take this project forward”

More information: www.sylva.org.uk/wood


£1.55 million available to boost rural areas in the county

Grants of up to £100,000 are available to community groups, small businesses farmers and foresters for projects that support the rural economy.

The Oxfordshire LEADER fund aims to support a wide range of activities in the countryside such as assisting local small businesses, supporting local heritage and cultural events, attracting tourism and visitors increasing foresters and farmer’s productivity and helping to diversify services.

Contributions are available for capital costs such as building work, equipment and for projects located in the Oxfordshire LEADER area until September this year.

Oxfordshire LEADER is welcoming expressions of interest for support until September this year and all funds will be allocated by March 2019.  For further information on the programme and criteria for funding, visit the website http://www.oxfordshireleader.org.uk

If your project is eligible, you can contact Sophie, programme manager, on 01235 422245 or email Oxfordshire.leader@southandvale.gov.uk for further guidance.


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Adapting to climate change

posted on October 16, 2017

Sylva Foundation CEO Gabriel Hemery reports on significant progress made in bringing the English forestry sector together to ensure that forestry practice, and our trees and forests, will adapt effectively to climate change.

UKFS and climate change adaptation

UKFS and climate change adaptation

The challenges we face in the light of climate change are familiar to us all, in every area of society. In relation to our trees and forests, and within the forestry sector, it is well-accepted that we need to take action to adapt to a changing climate. The UKFS (see box right) clearly articulates key measures we should be implementing, but how well are we meeting the challenge?

Willingness and Evidence

Two seminal moments during 2015 kick-started positive action relating to climate change adaptation in England. The first was the signing of the Climate Change Accord, ‘A call for resilient forests, woods and trees’, by more than 30 organisations. It states:

“We believe that it is necessary to act now to provide a secure future for our forests, woods and trees, that significant changes are required to widely-accepted and practiced systems of management to make them resilient, and we are committed to help realise the vision set out in this Accord.”

British Woodlands Survey 2015 report

British Woodlands Survey 2015 report

The second moment was the response by 1,500 stakeholders to a national survey concerning ‘awareness, action and aspiration among Britain’s forestry community relating to climate change’. Responses to the 2015 British Woodlands Survey indicated that the resilience of the UK’s forests is currently poor, although there are a number of positive aspects which could be built upon. The report concluded that collaboration across the sector was required, with responsibilities shared between the many interests. It also identified that risks need to be more clearly communicated to stakeholders, together with firmer, tailored, guidance on addressing these risks.

Together these two moments secured both the willingness to collaborate strategically, and the evidence necessary to measure progress towards meeting the adaptation measures in the UKFS. The next step was to build on these by agreeing what actions needed to be taken.

Taking action

A small group of interested parties came together under the auspices of the ‘Forestry and Climate Change Working Group’ (FCCWG). During 2016 the FCCWG started working towards an Action Plan for the forestry sector. It has been following a simple five-step approach:

  1. What should we be doing to support adaptation to climate change?    UKFS Adaptation Factors
  2. How do our actions measure up?    British Woodlands Survey 2015
  3. What is being done currently?    Organisations submit evidence to FCCWG during 2016/17
  4. What could we do better (or less of)?
  5. Priorities: what we need to do, by whom, by when?

 

Steps 1-3 formed the basis of a Draft Action Plan (see Read More), yet to address the important steps of what we should improve, and our priorities for taking action, it was necessary to convene a stakeholder workshop. At a meeting held on 11th October 2017—hosted by Forest Research at Alice Holt Lodge—senior representatives from 24 organisations (see box) gathered to devise strategies to tackle steps 4 and 5.

With thanks to delegates representing:

BIFOR, Confor, Deer Initiative, Egger, Euroforest, Forest of Marston Vale, Forest Research, Forestry Commission England, Forest Enterprise England, Future Trees Trust, Grown in Britain, Institute of Chartered Foresters, Lockhart Garratt, Martin Glynn, National Forest, National Trust, Natural England, Royal Forestry Society, Small Woods, Sylva Foundation, Tubex, Tilhill Forestry, Woodland Heritage, Woodland Trust.

After an opening address by Forestry Commission Chairman Sir Harry Studholme, an introduction to the FCCWG by its Chairman Simon Lloyd (Chief Executive, Royal Forestry Society), and an overview of the changes ahead from James Morison (Climate Change Science Group Leader, Forest Research), delegates were soon hard at work. Gabriel Hemery and Gill Petrokofsky, both from Sylva Foundation, managed the café-style brainstorming. Small groups tackled each of the 18 UKFS factors in turn, identifying priorities for action over the next five years.

Preparing for the next brainstorm session. Photo Gail Atkinson.

Preparing for the next brainstorm session. Photo Gail Atkinson.

 

Next steps

Over the next few months the FCCWG will be reviewing the outcomes of the October workshop. We aim to publish, in early 2018, an Action Plan for Forestry and Climate Change Adaptation. We intend this to be a rolling five-year plan, which will be reviewed annually to assess how well the sector is progress in meeting the agreed actions. Given the degree of commitment shown by organisations to date, we are confident that the actions will be widely adopted and responsibilities shared among stakeholders.

The FCCWG is keen to hear from those who may be interested in being actively involved in its work. In particular, we are aware that the interests of tree nurseries, timber processors, and urban forestry are under-represented.

Ultimately, we are hopeful that the unprecedented collaboration across the sector, together with the sound evidence behind its collective action, will help ensure that the Action Plan is embraced by forestry policy-makers, will influence the commissioning of relevant research, and will empower practitioners to take action.

Read more:

Dr Gabriel Hemery FICFor is Chief Executive of Sylva Foundation, and a member of the Forestry and Climate Change Working Group.


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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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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 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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Work gets underway on new Forestry Yard

posted on August 23, 2017

Work has started constructing our new FORESTRY YARD at the Sylva Wood Centre – thanks to support from Oxfordshire Leader funding.

Forestry Yard, Sylva Wood Centre

Forestry Yard, Sylva Wood Centre

We’ll soon be welcoming a forestry business to the yard, complete with a mobile sawmill and firewood processor (also supported by Leader funding). Meanwhile a joinery business, recently moved down south from Scotland, is refurbishing the old pigsties nearby as it future home.

The site which was derelict just three years ago already supports more than 30 local people. We can’t wait to see the yard stacked with locally-sourced timber from well-managed woodlands.

Oxfordshire Leader

Oxfordshire Leader


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You can help shape the future of forestry

posted on July 20, 2017
Some enticing early results from the first 500 respondents to BWS2017

Some enticing early results from the first 500 respondents to BWS2017

Since launching the British Woodlands Survey 2017 (BWS2017) two weeks ago we’ve received an encouraging uptake, with 500 respondents completing the survey to date. Thank you to all those who have taken part so far, and to our many partners in helping promote the survey to their members.

The last BWS, which explored issues relating to environmental change, represented 11% of all privately-owned forest land in Britain with 1,500 stakeholders taking part in the 2015 survey. This year we are asking questions around priority themes already suggested by some 400 stakeholders, plus themes of specific interest to England, Scotland and Wales. For example, those with interests in Scotland and Wales were particularly focussed on land reform, while those in England wanted us to ask questions about tree planting. Other major themes include developing the wood chain, and societal benefits. For the 2017 survey we hope to attract the best response so far; afterall this will make the findings even more powerful as an evidence base to help shape the future of forestry.

BWS has a proven record of working with important forestry organisations in Britain to provide a solid evidence base that influences decision-making, and contributes to policy. If you are a woodland owner or manager, farmer, land agent, professional forester or forestry/wood business, please take part and help shape the future of forestry.

Take the survey or read more at: sylva.org.uk/bws2017

The survey is open until to end September.

BWS2017 is led by researchers from Forest Research, Sylva Foundation, University of Oxford and Woodland Trust. Funding for BWS2017 is provided by Scottish Forestry Trust, Forestry Commission Scotland, and Woodland Trust.

take the survey

take the survey


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myForest to support deer management

posted on June 9, 2017

Over the last 18 months Sylva Foundation has been working with the Deer Initiative, grant-funded by Forestry Commission England and Natural England, to develop new functionality in myForest that will allow land owners and managers to create Deer Management Plans and collate annual monitoring data.

All six species of deer have increased in density and range nationally over the last 40 years. As deer populations have increased, their impact on the ground flora and the structure of woods has increased considerably, in particular the impact of fallow and muntjac in lowland woodlands.

Priority Areas for Deer Management

Priority Areas for Deer Management

The impact of deer on woodland biodiversity may be positive at low population densities. However at high densities deer browsing alters three elements in a woodland: regeneration potential, woodland structure, and ground flora diversity and abundance. Impacts on these elements have ramifications for species that use them as habitat and food. Species affected by these changes in structure and flora include populations of butterflies, other invertebrates, smaller mammals, birds, and their predators.

Collaborative, landscape-scale management of deer populations is key to helping address the issue of high deer populations in woodlands. Five priority areas (see map) have been identified in England in which to focus efforts where deer are having a particular impact on priority sites such as SSSI woodlands. In these areas landowners can receive additional support from the Deer Initiative to organise collaborative action across landscapes.

To aid in collaborative management Sylva Foundation has been working with the Deer Initiative to promote information sharing using the myForest service in order to build a comprehensive picture of deer and their management at the landscape scale. Anyone using the new deer management functionality on myForest will have their information stored safely and securely, managed under Sylva Foundation’s Privacy Policy. We have also created the possibility for users (if they chose to) to share their information with local Deer Initiative Officers which will help the Deer Initiative monitor deer impact across priority areas allowing them to prioritise assistance.

annual cull monitoring screenshot

Anual cull monitoring screenshot from myForest – public launch scheduled in October

Although this functionality has been specifically developed for use in the five priority areas, we hope it will be useful to users across England, and indeed in Scotland and Wales.

The functionality is currently being tested and the planned launch date is 1st October.


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BBC investigates future forests

posted on May 26, 2017

The Future of Forestry was this week’s theme on the BBC Radio 4 flagship environmental programme Costing the Earth.

BBC Costing The Earth

BBC Costing The Earth

The main question posed was whether Britain could revive its forestry and provide for more of its own needs.

BBC reporter Tom Heap came to interview Sylva’s CEO Gabriel Hemery at the Sylva Wood Centre. He also spoke with one of our resident furniture makers Jan Waterston, our current craftsperson-in-residence in partnership with Rycotewood Furniture Centre. The programme also featured Stuart Goodall from Confor, and Matt Larsen-Daw from the Woodland Trust.

The programme is available on the BBC iPlayer.


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