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Hand-crafted stools made in collaboration with the National Trust

posted on July 6, 2022

Sylva Foundation has teamed up with the National Trust to turn trees lost to Ash dieback into a range of hand-crafted stools.

The ash stools made at the Sylva Wood School in collaboration with the National Trust

The ash stools made at the Sylva Wood School in collaboration with the National Trust ©National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

Ash dieback is a widespread fungal disease that has had a dramatic impact on the UK’s native ash. It causes trees to slowly die and drop limbs, and those trees which pose a risk to the public have to be felled. Wood from this process has been turned into a collection of bespoke stools in three different designs, each made from ash trees from the National Trust’s Ebworth Estate in Gloucestershire. The Ebworth Estate was given to the National Trust, by John Workman, who was considered as one of the most influential foresters of his generation. Part of the estate is dedicated to the education, learning, and development of rural skills and works in partnership with other organisations; such as Sylva Foundation.

For the furniture making students of Sylva Foundation’s Wood School, working on this commission from the National Trust, allowed them to gain real business experience, as the stools will be sold via the National Trust’s online shop. The donation of the Grown in Britain certified timber from the National Trust also provided Sylva Foundation with materials that otherwise would have to be purchased. This ensures that the course is as cost efficient as possible, along with bursaries offered to students by the foundation.

National Trust Head of Trees and Woodland, John Deakin commented on the collaboration:

“I’m so pleased we’ve been able to work with Sylva Foundation and turn the sad loss of our trees into something so positive. This is a great example of how we can manage our woodlands in a positive way, if and when the worst happens. Ash dieback is one of the biggest threats to our native woodlands in the UK with ash making up nearly 40% of composition.

“As a conservation charity, we are so reliant on the skills of experts, some of whom are incredibly rare in their field, so by helping Sylva Foundation – both in terms of materials and business training – we are contributing to the future of skilled craftspeople.

“I hope that we can work with the foundation in future years and continue to offer these development opportunities, as well as find practical uses for the resources we have in abundance.”

Sylva Foundation CEO, Dr Gabriel Hemery, said

“The collaboration with the National Trust has been a wonderful opportunity for the charity and a brilliant live project for students at the Sylva Wood School. Our students have learnt a huge amount about working with ash, and how to design and batch-produce quality products to meet with a commercial deadline.

“The outcomes will help us promote the multiple benefits that result from using more home-grown timber from well-managed forests. After all, whatever the motive for felling (sadly in this case due to disease), home-grown timber is good for nature, good for the economy, and good for the planet.”

The stools are now available exclusively through the National Trust online shop.

All images ©National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra


Notes for Editors:

About the Ebworth Estate

The Ebworth Estate was given to the National Trust, by John Workman, who was a National Trust forestry advisor for 30 years, co-founder of the Tree Council and co-founder of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum, as well as ex-president of the Royal Forestry Society (RFS).

About the National Trust

The National Trust is a conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people: Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley, who saw the importance of the nation’s heritage and open spaces and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. Today, across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we continue to look after places so people and nature can thrive. Entirely independent of Government, the National Trust cares for more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 780 miles of coastline and 500 historic properties, gardens and nature reserves.

About Sylva Foundation

Sylva Foundation is an environmental and forestry charity working for a society that cares for nature while living in harmony with it. We envisage a wood culture where people understand and promote the good stewardship of woodlands and are mindful of their utility, while being conscious of their fragility. We use our forestry knowledge and information technology skills, supported by state-of-art evidence, to provide innovative solutions to some of the greatest environmental challenges facing modern society. Sylva’s myForest platform supports landowners and managers responsible for more than 155,000ha of forests across Britain. At our home in south Oxfordshire, we host the Sylva Wood School and a centre supporting small businesses who make with home-grown timber.


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