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We are pleased to be part of a Grown in Britain consortium, led by English Woodlands Timber, that has been awarded funding by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, to explore how hardwood supply chains in the UK could be improved.
Specifically aimed at construction supply chains, project partners include the Building Research Establishment, the Forestry Commission, forest and wood charity the Sylva Foundation, building contractor Willmott Dixon, and a large timber importer and merchant, as well as subcontract input from specialist consultants Sustainable Construction Solutions and Resource Efficiency Services.
Dougal Driver, Grown in Britain Chief Executive commented:
“There are more than 30 million tonnes of timber in unmanaged woodlands throughout the UK, which the project will begin the process of unlocking. With the UK relying on high levels of imported timber the GiB project is vital to breaking down barriers within the supply chain for home-grown hardwood, making it much more accessible and readily available.”
The key aim of the project is to improve the flow of hardwood timber from UK woodlands, so that the experience of the end customer is improved. The project will have five main work streams:
Market research to establish the timber species and section sizes being purchased by the UK construction industry, and also to identify what timber is available in UK woodlands to match this;
Timber stock funding options that will look to increase roundwood and sawn timber stocks without imposing additional risks on the supply chain;
Timber supply hub that will be able to locate available timber in independent saw mills around the UK;
Material efficiencies, looking at how sawn wood yields could be improved;
Industry engagement, to unite and galvanise the full support of the UK timber industry.
The project is due to start in October 2015, and will run for 12 months.
We are excited to be featuring in the BBC One programme Countryfile this coming Sunday.
The programme, which will be broadcast at 19:00 on Sunday 19th April, is on the theme of Britain’s woodlands. Sylva’s CEO Gabriel Hemery is interviewed among beautiful woodland at the Oxford University Harcourt Arborteum, while two of our first tenants moving into the Sylva Wood Centre also feature.
Rodas Irving of Oxford Oak talks about the installation of the thermally-modified hardwood cladding (read more) at the Sylva Wood Centre, which is being applied thanks to the support of Grown in Britain. Simon Clements, another of our new tenants, talks about moving from his current workshop to our exciting new venue, where we are fostering skills and innovation in home-grown wood.
More about the programme from the BBC Countryfile website:
In this themed programme Ellie Harrison, John Craven and Anita Rani explore Britain’s woodlands. Ellie is high up in the canopy with the scientists collecting leaf buds to learn more about the effects of CO2 on woodland. She then helps release some hedgehogs, one of the nations’ favourite and most-threatened woodland species, back into the wild. John finds out what it takes to manage your own woodland and discovers that the return of the old craft of coppicing is proving a boom to wildlife. He also joins the conservationists using novel methods to increase the dormice populations in Shropshire’s woods. And Anita discovers how to build with baked wood – using a new technique that hardens and weatherproofs timbers making them much more durable and better for building with. Adam Henson has the third and final of the Countryfile’s Farming Heroes nominees. The biggest threat to British trees is disease – and in many cases there’s no cure. Tom Heap investigates the threats to our woodland and finds out what we can all do to defend our trees.
Anita Rani is in Oxfordshire, with the Sylva Foundation, as they open their brand new Wood Centre for the very first time. Anita joins Rodas as he finishes the cladding on the building, which is made from thermally treated British ash and sycamore. This treatment makes the wood more durable, allowing it to be used more widely. Anita meets with one of the new tenants of the Wood Centre, sculptor Simon Clements, who is taking his inspiration from the quivering leaves of the woodland canopy.
The Sylva Foundation has been granted a legacy by Edward (Ted) Dorey, a lifelong professional woodworker, who has also gifted an immediate donation of a substantial quantity of wood together with many lathes and other woodworking machines to the Sylva Wood Centre. Ted intends to play a central role in the Sylva Wood Centre, and will be on hand to pass on his skills to the next generation. A Teaching Workshop will be created at the centre and named after Ted.
Ted Dorey – portrait by Gabriel Hemery
“I’m looking forward to working with the Sylva Foundation. There are lots of youngsters out there who want to work with their hands but there aren’t many opportunities for them now. It’s very important to keep those skills alive because we’ll never get them back if they die out.”
Sylva CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery joined artists Paul Gough and Gail Ritchie to discuss, with presenter Samira Ahmed, the meaning of trees and wood in war and peacetime for BBC Radio 3′s Free Thinking.
Discussions ranged from Paul Nash’s paintings of blasted tree stumps in the first world war and the army’s amazing periscope trees, to today’s commemorative planting initiatives. James Taylor from the Imperial War Museum also shared some fascinating insights into the role of wood in the Great War.
The programme was broadcast on 1st July but is available on the BBC website to listen again.
The Sylva Foundation has been gifted land and buildings to develop a centre for innovation in home-grown wood.
The generous gift from a private donor was given to help the charity develop its fourth object: advancing education and business enterprise in the design and production of home-grown wood products for the public benefit.
Chair of trustees Dr Nick Brown said: “this incredibly generous donation will help secure a sustainable future for the Sylva Foundation.” He continued, “Our plan is to develop the property as a hothouse for new and innovative businesses using home-grown wood. Oxfordshire has a wealth of skills and ideas and many young entrepreneurs just need a little practical support to get off the ground.” Dr Brown added that “We are very lucky to have received a generous gift to help us set up our wood innovation centre, but we will need other like-minded investors who share our vision to match-fund.”
Sylva’s land and buildings in south Oxfordshire
The property in south Oxfordshire, just one mile from our current offices, consists of 8 hectares (20 acres) of land and several large farm buildings. Many of the buildings are in various stages of dereliction, while two large agricultural buildings are in a condition that will allow them to be converted to new use, to support wood-based industry.
The trustees are now looking for partners and funders who share Sylva’s vision to promote excellence and innovation with home-grown wood by:
promoting the use of home-grown wood sourced from well-managed British forests to stimulate sustainable forest management and the rural economy;
providing skills & enterprise education in designing and making in wood to create successful home-grown wood businesses across Britain;
stimulate an innovative culture in the design and use of home-grown wood.
The trustees welcome expressions of interest from partners and funders. Please contact our Chief Executive Dr Gabriel Hemery for further information: email@example.com or 01865 408016.
We announced recently that the judging had taken place of entries by Rycotewood students into the OneOak fine furniture competition – read more. We are delighted to announce the two winners. They are Matt Wakeham (18) and Harry Friday (19). We asked Matt and Harry to tell us more about themselves and their entries into the competition. Along with their words below, we include photos of their models.
Matt Wakeham, 18, has just finished a furniture and cabinet making course at Warwickshire College’s School of Arts. He said: “My idea for the OneOak competition is designed around the pure shape of the rough sawn, waney-edged boards that were curving and tapering from one end to the other. My design incorporates the timber’s honest and natural beauty by using all the character and knots where possible. I aim to give the piece a contemporary arts and crafts feel through the construction shown on display – these will be through dovetails. I am very grateful to be part of this unique project and look forward to making the tables and exhibiting them at Art in Action this summer.”
OneOak fine furniture competition winner entry by Matt Wakeham. Model and concept design.
Harry Friday, 19, spent three years at Moulton College in Northampton studying furniture design and make. “I am now in my first year at Rycotewood which is going very well. I’m designing my own work, which is all new to me but is fulfilling my talent. The piece I designed is a console table, based on the way that the tree grows. The legs give a splitting branches effect, making the piece look like is growing.”
OneOak fine furniture competition winner entry by Harry Friday. Model and concept design.
We will be following up on Matt and Harry’s progress with their pieces here on this blog and as Matt says, they will be on display at Art in Action from 19-22 July.
Following the recent sawing of the OneOak tree at Deep in Wood sawmill, we have catalogued all 35 of the boards cut from the tree’s three main lengths. Future users of the timber can now browse and select their wood based on its dimensions and qualities. To view the online catalogue click here.
You can also view our film of the sawing process at Deep in Wood sawmill below and see all our films on our new film page.
Today we reached a major milestone in the OneOak project as the OneOak tree was sawn at Deep in Wood sawmill.
Owner and sawmiller James Binning invited some of the future users of the wood to watch the sawing. Guests included Joe Bray and 13 students from Rycotewood Furniture Centre, green wood furniture designer-maker Rodas Irving, timber framer Norman Guiver, and Chris Mills from Upton Smokery. The foresters from Blenheim also came to watch their tree being milled.
Our main advisor in the wood aspect of the project, Philip Koomen, was on hand to advise on how best to cut each of the tree’s three timber sections. We all waited anxiously as the first 4.5m long section was cut into for the first time. It is never possible to know how good the timber in a tree will be until it is sawn. It could be that after 160 years of growing in the woodland at Blenheim, and a year of planning in our project, that the timber may have been of poor quality!
We were delighted and relieved that, as board by board was sliced off the giant logs by the super powerful bandsaw, the quality of the boards was excellent. In the trade they would be called “low grade character timber“. Expert Philip Koomen was surprised by the quantity of usuable timber and delighted by some of the figuring and colouring in the boards. For many of the potential uses of the tree this will help in bringing extra value and beauty to the objects.
Now begins a patient waiting game. The boards were put back together one by one to reform the log with sticks in between. They will now be kept this way and allowed to air dry. The usual rule of thumb is one year for every one inch (26mm) of board thickness. We will need to wait until 2012 for the larger boards to air dry, although the thinner boards will be ready for use in 2011. Other boards will be used sooner still – by green wood workers – and we look forward to seeing our first manufactured products later this year.
In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, and to protect our staff, visitors and collaborators, the office of the Sylva Foundation will close from 17th March.
Some individual members of staff may be present in the office but otherwise all our work will continue as planned using virtual and online communication facilities. Emails will continue to be checked and phone messages received, but please allow a little longer than usual to receive a response.