Support for collaborative woodland management

posted on December 7, 2018

From today, users of our myForest service can query resource information across multiple properties which can help support collaborative woodland management.

Suited equally to woodland co-operatives or managers with multiple clients, the new functionality aims to improve efficiency by enhancing collaboration, with the main outcomes that more woodlands are managed well, and more home-grown timber reaches the market.

Most of Britain’s large plantation forests are managed as part of a crop rotation, but there are many smaller woodlands across the country, often part of mixed farms and estates under separate ownership, which are not being managed as costs can be prohibitive at small scales.

There can be distinct opportunities from scaling-up, such as: combining timber volumes to meet a new market demand; mixing timber from multiple small parcels to reduce haulage costs; or by undertaking similar operations at the same time of year to reduce costs. However, it can be complicated for agents managing data between clients, or for a co-operative project knowing enough about the resources managed by different members.

The new collaborative woodland management functionality in myForest aims to overcome these barriers by allowing users to query information across multiple clients/members. This includes:

  • search for species plus associated data (e.g. height, stem diameter, quality) across all properties/clients/members.
  • export sub-compartment information from these searchers into Excel to help with data management and manipulation.
  • browse sub-compartment locations on a map to view distances and conditions between different properties.
  • import data from new clients already on myForest, including mapping and inventory data.
  • search for areas with designations, such as SSSIs.
  • restrict searches to sites with felling licence applications.

The project arose thanks to collaboration with the Argyll Small Wood Coop. The Coop were working hard to provide their members with management plans, but were looking for a way of being able to query the information they had collected across their membership base to assess opportunities for collaborative management and marketing.

Here’s a real-life example of how the functionality can work for a Coop:

  1. Coop member Jamie Smith had a small parcel of oak on his farm that the Coop was trying to market for him.  There was a possible market available but because of the small volume of the parcel, haulage costs would make the operation uneconomic.
  2. The Coop searched its member database using the collaborative woodland management functionality on myForest to find out if there are any other Coop members with trees of the right specification that could make the overall offering more profitable.
  3. The Coop coordinator finds that Eleanor Davis has oak of a similar size on her farm.  They agree to market jointly both Jamie and Eleanor’s oak.
  4. Jamie and Eleanor’s woodlands entered active management and the woodland operations became profitable.

Equally the tool could work in the same way for woodland managers with multiple clients.

Sylva Foundation worked closely with Argyll Small Woods Coop and Wyre Community Land Trust to test and improve the functionality. Project funding was provided by Forestry Commission Scotland and Making Local Woods Work, together with core funding support from The Dulverton Trust.

As with all new developments in myForest we reply on feedback from the myForest community to make improvements. Please feel free to contact us with your feedback on this and any other aspect of myForest.

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Argyll Small Woods Coop – woodland planning workshop

posted on October 16, 2017

The Argyll Small Woods Cooperative and the Croft Woodland Project are hosting a woodland planning workshop on Tuesday 24th October.

Argyll Small Woods Cooperative

Argyll Small Woods Cooperative

The workshop will take participants through the woodland planning process and introduce them to the practicalities of measuring trees and creating a woodland inventory. Participants will also learn how to use myForest to develop a plan for their woodlands as well as how myForest is helping the co-operative to query woodland information across its members, allowing them to assess opportunities for collaborative woodland management.

The event is being led by Paul Orsi, Director for Forestry at Sylva Foundation, and Iain Catterwell, a forestry consultant based in Argyll.

Email to book your place or to find out more.

Details: Culfail Hotel, Kilmelford, 11am – 4pm.

This is a free event supported by Forestry Commission Scotland, Woodland Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund.

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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:

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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Managing Atlantic woodland for lichens and bryophytes: free workshops for land managers

posted on November 16, 2015

Sylva is pleased to promote an important new project that will provide support for owners of Atlantic woodland.

The Atlantic woodlands of south-west England are internationally important for their lichens and bryophytes. However, these often-overlooked lower plant communities face a range of threats from habitat loss and climate change, to impacts from management practices and invasive species. Plantlife’s Make the Small Things Count Project has produced a Habitat Toolkit to provide practical management advice. These one day workshops will be hands-on, practical sessions to launch the toolkit and support land managers to:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of Atlantic woodland ecology and the requirements of lichens and bryophytes;
  • Identify priority areas for management;
  • Identify what management is appropriate in different scenarios;
  • Monitor lichens and bryophytes and assess the impacts of management.

All participants will receive a copy of the toolkit as well as Plantlife’s ID guides for key lichens and bryophytes.

Lobaria pulmonaria (c) Ray Woods-Plantlife

Lobaria pulmonaria in an Atlantic woodland. (c) Ray Woods, Plantlife


Workshop dates:

  • Tuesday 19th January 10am-3pm at Yarner Wood, East Dartmoor NNR TQ13 9LJ
  • Thursday 28th January 10am-3pm at Holford Village Hall, Quantocks AONB TA5 1SD
  • Thursday 4th February 10am-3pm at Piles Mill, Exmoor National Park TA24 8HP
  • Wednesday 10th February 10am-3pm at Burrator Discovery Centre PL20 6PE

Booking essential. Register online here at:

There is a limit of 15 people per workshop. You only need to attend one session. Please book early to avoid disappointment. For further information contact:

In January 2016 a web-link to the toolkit will be created in the myForest resources section.

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Good Woods working with Surrey Wildlife Trust

posted on October 4, 2013
The morning session was held in Bramley Village Hall and included a presentation on timber volume assessments by Rob Davis, the Surrey Wildlife Trust Woodland Officer

The morning session was held in Bramley Village Hall and included a presentation on timber volume assessments by Rob Davis, the Surrey Wildlife Trust Woodland Officer

In September, as part of the Good Woods project, Alistair Yeomans of the Sylva Foundation contributed to a woodland management seminar organised for staff of the Surrey Wildlife Trust.

The principle aspects of developing a woodland management plan were discussed and how management planning ensures that woodland work conforms to the UK Forestry Standard.

A key step in creating a woodland plan is to map the various areas of woodland so that uniform woodland areas can be identified for planning purposes. Guidance for carrying this out can be found in the Forestry Commission England’s English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) 1 guidance document. The following is taken from the document and describes how a woodland can be divided into compartments and sub-compartments for planning purposes.

Woodland properties, compartments and sub-compartments

The afternoon session was held at the woodland at Chinthurst Hill where Alistair Yeomans of the Sylva Foundation explained to Surrey Wildlife Trust staff how to divide a woodland into compartments and sub-compartments for the purposes of a woodland plan

The afternoon session was held at the woodland at Chinthurst Hill where Alistair Yeomans of the Sylva Foundation explained to Surrey Wildlife Trust staff how to divide a woodland into compartments and sub-compartments for the purposes of a woodland plan

A property is defined as the largest unit of management used in decision making. This may be made up of multiple blocks of woodlands across a landscape that is under the same ownership. The forest industry uses “compartments” and “sub-compartments” to identify discrete areas of woodland just like the parcelling system used in agriculture, where each field has a unique reference.

Compartments are discrete woodlands (or parts of larger woodlands) defined by physical features such as roads, watercourses, tracks and land use changes. Compartment boundaries (like field edges beside a road) will hardly ever change. Most small farm woodlands can be considered as one compartment.

Sub-compartments are subdivisions of these permanent compartments. The boundaries of these are defined by significant differences found inside the woodland. This will include the boundaries of different species (or simpler divisions between conifer, broadleaved or mixed areas). Also relevant are things like significant age differences between adjacent areas, fence lines and features like rides and open glades.

Minimal intervention, management planning and the UK Forestry Standard

Leo who manages the woodland at Chinthurst Hill explains to his colleagues the current coppicing operations and future plans for the woodland.

Leo who manages the woodland at Chinthurst Hill explains to his colleagues the current coppicing operations and future plans for the woodland.

Some of the woodlands that the Surrey Wildlife Trust manages are situated on environmentally sensitive sites such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). If it is deemed that a minimal intervention approach is the best management strategy for these areas of woodlands then it is important to include these areas in the management plan, detailing why the decision has been made.

The UKFS guidance on minimum intervention is as follows:

Assess the possible areas for minimum intervention and, where these will deliver habitat objectives, allow ecological processes to develop. 

This should relate to a monitoring schedule to assess the condition of the habitat over the course of the management plan (usually ten years) to evaluate the condition of the habitat and if minimum intervention is indeed the most appropriate strategy.

Other areas of woodland that are deemed to offer productive potential (for both habitat and production purposes) should also be clearly detailed on a map which will form part of the management plan.

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. For more information contact Amy Hammond:

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