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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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Updates to Management Plans and Felling Permissions in Scotland

posted on July 18, 2019

From today both the Management Plan template and Felling Permissions application have been updated in myForest. If you have previously created a management plan or generated a felling licence application, the information and data entered will now be in these new templates.

Scottish Forestry logo

Scottish Forestry logo

On 1 April 2019, the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018 came into effect, completing the devolution of forestry to Scotland.

This has led to the creation of two new Scottish Government forestry agencies. One of them, Forestry and Land Scotland, is now responsible for managing the National Forest Estate. The other, Scottish Forestry, replaces Forestry Commission Scotland, and is responsible for forestry policy, regulation, support and the awarding and payment of forestry grants.

As part of these changes Scottish Forestry have updated their Woodland Management Plan template and Felling Permissions application form.

screen shot of new management plan editor

A screen shot of new management plan editor in myForest

Management Plan

Although this is mainly the same as the previous template, Scottish Forestry have added the ability to generate felling permissions through the management plan approval process for thinning. Other forms of felling will still need to go through the Felling Permissions applications process.

Felling Permissions

To comply with the new Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018, Scottish Forestry have updated the Felling Permission (previously known as Felling Licence) application form. Again, the information you are required to provide is almost the same as before, but with the addition of a few additional fields.


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Felling Licence Online

posted on

myForest users can benefit from a new online system for generating felling licences.

Felling Licence Online

Felling Licence Online

We have been working closely with FC England over the last year to make sure that myForest users can benefit from a new online system without have to re-enter information that they have already entered into myForest. From today, myForest now has the additional functionality necessary to generate the file types needed to upload directly into Felling Licence Online.

In England, woodland owners and managers can apply for felling licences in two different ways:

Plan of Operations

When developing a management plan, owners and managers can fill out a Plan of Operations. This document provides Forestry Commission England with all of the information they need to generate your felling licences for the next 10 years.

Felling Licence Online

It is also possible to apply for felling licences that cover discrete parts of your woodland. Until recently this process was handled through a paper application, but earlier this year Forestry Commission England released a new online system to process applications called Felling Licence Online.

We have some new video guidance to help users through this process:


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Sylva launches premium account for myForest

posted on January 14, 2019

A new premium account has been launched for Sylva’s flagship woodland management online software myForest. Users will have access to new tools, while income from regular subscriptions will help the charity invest further in the technology.

Since its launch in 2009, Sylva Foundation’s myForest web tool has been growing steadily, just like the woodlands it exists to support. The environmental charity has relied on word-of-mouth and a strong reputation for the increasing popularity of its online tools and resources supporting woodland management.

myForest is used by thousands of woodland owners, managers and educators, to map and manage more than 75,000ha of woodland across Britain. Its development has been supported in part by charitable trusts, government bodies, corporations, and individual donors. However, myForest requires regular funding to support maintenance and development, and the Sylva Foundation receives frequent requests for new features.

Behind the scenes, thanks to core support from The Dulverton Trust, the Sylva Foundation has been hard at work developing a range of additional premium-level tools which it now hopes some woodland owners and managers will opt to use. Paul Orsi from Sylva Foundation, who manages myForest, explained:

“We have introduced these additional tools in response to demands by users. We have kept the costs as low as possible, at only £24/year for a Woodland Owner account and £120/year for an Agent account. We hope that some owners, managers, and agents, will subscribe to a premium account. The income generated will support ongoing maintenance and allow us to invest further in the future of myForest.”

myForest feature table

myForest feature table

The most significant addition to the service, accessed via the new premium account, is access to digital mapping from the Ordnance Survey (note that additional costs apply dependent on usage). This is likely to be popular with those requiring maps for formal applications, or where existing aerial mapping imagery is poor.

myForest Woodland Manager showing OS background

myForest Woodland Manager showing OS background

With a myForest premium account you can now view data layers such as ancient woodland

With a myForest premium account you can now view data layers such as ancient woodland

A new measuring tool is just one of the new features we have added to myForest through a premium account

A new measuring tool is just one of the new features we have added to myForest through a premium account

Alongside OS mapping, various other options are on offer, including: advanced printing, overlaying of data layers such as ancient woodland boundaries, plus a range of reports such as summary reports for species and age-class distributions.

A myForest premium account allows you to download automatically generated reports for your woodland

A myForest premium account allows you to download automatically generated reports for your woodland

It is also possible to export a work programme to a spreadsheet so that it can be taken into the field or shared with others.

More features will be added to premium accounts over time and the charity will be developing a myForest mobile app by the end of the year.

www.myforest.org.uk


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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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New Forestry Commission England Management Plan template available on myForest

posted on August 15, 2018

The updated Forestry Commission England Management Planning template is now available on myForest.  The update includes changes to the UK Forestry Standard criteria for approving a plan as well as additions to the Woodland Protection section.

FCE management plan template 2018

FCE management plan template 2018

Updates have also been made to the Plan of Operations including the requirement to specify the type of restocking following a felling operation.


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GIS course – management planning using myForest

posted on February 2, 2018

The Royal Forestry Society has announced further courses in its excellent line up for woodland owners, managers and others, including a GIS course using Sylva Foundation’s myForest.

Friday, 19 October 2018

myForest service

myForest service

myForest is a free to use online web tool (www.myforest.org.uk) designed to help woodland owners and managers produce management plans. The system allows users to map their woodlands, add information (including inventory and work programme) and produce management plans using Forestry Commission England’s template.

Course leader Paul Orsi (Director for Forestry at Sylva Foundation) will take participants through the whole management planning process, from a woodland survey through to producing management plans which can be approved by a Forestry Commission Woodland Officer. Participants will learn how to create a myForest account, map a woodland area, add attribute data, and generate a management plan and associated maps. We will look at what is required from a good management plan and how myForest can help you with this.

This course is aimed at owners of small woodlands who are keen to learn how to create their own management plan.

For more information on the course and how to book, click here

 


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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 info@argyllsmallwoods.coop 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.

www.argyllsmallwoods.coop


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myForest supports social enterprises

posted on August 15, 2017

The myForest team have recently joined forces with the team from the Making Local Woods Work, a partnership which helps support and grow woodland social enterprises. We have added a new category to the myForest Directory that allows businesses to highlight their social missions and for myForest users to search for social enterprise businesses.

We hope that many new social enterprises will join the 750 businesses already registered on the myForest Directory.

If you are a social enterprise business that has already registered on the myForest Directory simply login and update your listing to highlight your social mission.

myForest directory screen shot

myForest directory screen shot


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Amazing response to our Christmas appeal

posted on December 2, 2016

We’ve been stunned by the generosity of so many individuals who have donated to our Christmas appeal over the last four days.

myForest development Christmas appeal

myForest development Christmas appeal

As I write (8am today) we’ve been donated £2,150 which, thanks to the Big Give and support from the Dulverton Trust, will be matched; meaning we’ve raised £4,300 in total. This sum will make a very significant contribution towards our development of Sylva’s myForest. Currently 60,000 hectares of private woodland across the UK is mapped and managed with the help of the myForest service. Thanks to these donations it means our aim to support the management of 228,000ha (10% of UK privately-owned woodland area) by 2021 is more attainable.

It’s not too late if you wish to donate to our Christmas appeal. The deadline is just hours away – 12 noon today. To donate visit our appeal page on the Big Give.

Our sincere thanks to all those who have donated.

Gabriel Hemery, Chief Executive


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