Due to Covid-19, we have reduced personnel at the offices of the Sylva Foundation and our premises at the Sylva Wood Centre. Emails and phone messages are being checked but please allow a little longer than usual to receive a response.
Please do not arrange a formal visit without first checking with us. Members of the public are free to enjoy our network of permitted paths through the Future Forest as usual.


OneOak tree grows again

posted on March 11, 2016

A young sapling raised from a remarkable oak tree⸺once the focus for our national education and arts project⸺has been planted by children in an Oxfordshire school.

Stonesfield Primary School children and their OneOak sapling

Stonesfield Primary School children and their OneOak sapling

In 2010 a 222-year-old oak tree, grown in woodland on the Blenheim Palace Estate, was felled for its timber. It was donated to Sylva Foundation by Blenheim Palace as the focus for our education project OneOak. The OneOak project brought people closer to growing trees for wood by telling the full life story of the oak tree. The tree’s felling was watched by 250 local school children who then returned to the woodland, planting seedlings grown from the acorns of the OneOak tree, to create a new oak forest.

Today, children from Stonesfield Primary School⸺one of schools that took part in the OneOak project⸺were excited to be planting a young oak sapling grown from the OneOak woodland in their school grounds. In addition to the young OneOak tree, trees and flowers have been planted to create a new wild area for learning and play.

Generous support for the planting day has been provided by the forestry team from Blenheim Palace who helped the children plant trees, and provided benches and log seats made of timber from the estate’s woodlands. Imogen Radford from local company Wonderwood donated her time and skills to create a willow weave shelter with the children. Local companies Nicholsons and Barlows generously provided trees and building materials.

Paul Orsi, Sylva Foundation Director for Forestry, commented:

“This is a wonderful project to help young people, not only learn about trees and forestry, but to actually become young foresters by planning, planting and managing the new trees themselves! Meeting the Blenheim Palace Forestry team and Wonderwood’s Imogen Radford will really inspire young people to understand the work that happens in our woodlands everyday.”

Jen Hurst, Sylva Foundation Education Manager commented:

“Planting the young OneOak tree is not only completing the OneOak story but also marks the beginning of an exciting new youth-led project for Sylva.”

Fi McGregor, Head Teacher at Stonesfield School commented :

“It was a privilege to be involved with the original OneOak project, our children got to know the OneOak tree; studying it, measuring it and drawing it. We then witnessed the unforgettable felling of the beautiful tree followed by the processing of the timber to make a range of oak products from furniture to fuel pellets.

Returning to the woods to plant the OneOak acorns made us feel part of the life cycle of the OneOak. To be able to plant a OneOak sapling in our own grounds means that the OneOak story continues. Sylva and Blenheim have enabled our children to gain a better understanding of how felling trees contributes to woodland management and to the huge range of products one tree can provide. We are incredibly grateful to the staff of Sylva and Blenheim for giving us this fantastic opportunity and for helping us to plan and create a new wild garden space for play and for learning.”

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OneOak follow-on project kicks off

posted on February 27, 2015
Education workshop at OUMNH

Education workshop at OUMNH

The seeds of many exciting woodland and wood education ideas were sown at a free CPD workshop run by Sylva’s Education Manager Jen Hurst this week. Kindly hosted by Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History, fifteen environmental educators, forest school leaders and teachers met with the Sylva team to develop an innovative follow-on project to OneOak – due to be launched nationally in September 2015. Watch this space!

The workshop kicked off with inspiring talks from Sylva’s Gabriel Hemery on the story of OneOak, and the work of Foresters by Paul Orsi. Master Craftsman in wood furniture, Phil Koomen, then got participants hands-on with creating their own designs out of wood. The Museum of Natural History’s Education Officer Chris Jarvis took us on a virtual tour of forests around the world and the vast range of biodiversity that forests support. A highlight of the afternoon was the ‘Oak lifecycle game’ run by Lynn Daley, Education Officer of Oxford University Harcourt Arboretum. Passers by were curious to see workshop participants running across the Museum’s lawn, competing for vital resources to help grow their acorns to oak trees!

Education workshop team at Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Education workshop participants at Oxford University Museum of Natural History

The workshop buzzed with ideas as educators and experts went on to develop activities and resources for teaching and learning, both indoors and outdoors. Over the next six months these seeds of ideas are sure to grow into education activities that will go a long way to educating young people about Britain’s forests, woodlands, wood products and our growing wood culture.

Our thanks go to all the enthusiastic participants, speakers and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Also to the funders of this new education project, the Patsy Wood Trust.

Category: EDUCATION, Timber!
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OneOak memorial sculpture returns home

posted on May 15, 2013

In the final act of the OneOak project, today we returned the OneOak memorial sculpture to its rightful home; to the woodland at Blenheim Palace.

The end of the OneOak project

The end of the OneOak project: the forestry team at Blenheim Palace gather with sculptor Simon Clements (right) and Sylva’s Gabriel Hemery (left)

The sculpture, designed and made by Simon Clements, toured around all the OneOak exhibition venues during 2011 and 2012 but it was always destined to rest on top of the stump of the OneOak tree that provided the inspiration and material for the three year project. The sculpture will now remain in the woodland to weather and grow a natural patina of mosses and lichens, surrounded by a small forest of 250 oak trees.

One of the 250 oak trees planted by school children

One of the 250 oak trees planted by school children emerges from its treeshelter near the OneOak memorial sculpture

Installing the OneOak memorial sculpture

Installing the OneOak memorial sculpture and repairing a few tree stakes damaged by browsing deer

Simon Clements installs the OneOak memorial sculpture

Simon Clements installs the OneOak memorial sculpture on the tree stump

The OneOak sculpture returns

The OneOak sculpture returns fresh from its journeys around Britain – last seen in Edinburgh!

Our thanks to Simon Clements and the forestry team at Blenheim Palace.

Category: OneOak project

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OneOak exhibition enters its last week

posted on November 26, 2012

The OneOak exhibition at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has now entered its last week.

One Oak exhibition wall panels montage at RBGE

One Oak exhibition wall panels montage at RBGE

Over the last five weeks some tens of thousands of visitors have seen the displays of information about sustainable forest management, watched the films, listened to the music, and been amazed by both the beauty and variety of wooden items made from the OneOak tree.

Entrance to the OneOak exhibition

Entrance to the OneOak exhibition

If you’ve seen the exhibition why not leave a comment about your experience on our blog or Facebook page.

If you’ve not seen it, you have until Sunday 2nd December. For more visitor information click here.


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OneOak woodchip heats it up

posted on June 27, 2012

One of the last parts of the OneOak tree waiting to be processed was a large pile of its branchwood. Ever since the tree was felled in January 2010 the branchwood has been stored at Blenheim where it has been drying slowly for the last 18 months.

Some of the OneOak branchwood waiting to be chipped

Some of the OneOak branchwood waiting to be chipped

James Norman, from Oxford Renewables, has been waiting patiently for the wood to be ready for chipping. The resulting woodchip would be used by one of his clients to create heat for a large domestic boiler.

Last week the pile of branchwood was delivered by James Norman to Ed Mant of EJM Tree Services, who kindly chipped the material at no cost.


Ed Mant of EJM Tree Services chipping the OneOak branchwood

Ed Mant of EJM Tree Services chipping the OneOak branchwood


The first giant bag is nearly full of OneOak woodchip

The first giant bag is nearly full of OneOak woodchip

The chipping operation was overseen by expert William Hamer of Hampshire Woodfuel Cooperative Ltd. William checked the quality of the woodchip that was produced. Its moisture content was 25% (making it officially ‘W30’) while the proportions of its particulates confirmed that it qualified as ‘G30’.

We were particularly pleased to be able to assist Sylva with the woodfuel element of the One Oak Project.  We are keen to encourage the use of woodfuel and this was an excellent opportunity of demonstrating the understanding of its conversion and use, albeit at a rather smaller scale than we would normally work.

Braziers Park is one of the Cooperative’s regular customers and as we also supply other systems installed by Oxford Renewables, James Norman’s request for our help was one we were more than happy to accommodate. EJM Tree Services work regularly on Estates I manage for clients and Ed Mant was kind enough to agree to help as soon as I asked him.

 William Hamer, Hampshire Woodfuel Cooperative Ltd


The different size particles on the OneOak woodchip. 17.9%  greater than 16mm (foreground), 76.2% greater than 3mm, 4.2% greater than 1mm, and 1.7% less than 1mm (far end). Chip designation = 'G30'

The different size particles on the OneOak woodchip. 17.9% greater than 16mm (foreground), 76.2% greater than 3mm, 4.2% greater than 1mm, and 1.7% less than 1mm (far end). Chip designation = 'G30'


James Norman delivered the woodchip weighing 610kg to his client Braziers Park.  Using a standard figure of 3.8kWh per kg at 25% moisture content (Biomass Energy Centre), the estimated energy value of the OneOak woodchip was 2,318kWh. James explained that the OneOak woodchip was:

“enough to heat a four-bed house for about six weeks, or for one month in winter.”



The three bags of OneOak woodchip at the Braziers Park woodchip store

The three bags of OneOak woodchip at the Braziers Park woodchip store


James Norman of Oxfordshire Renewables adjusts one of the boilers at Braziers Park

James Norman of Oxfordshire Renewables adjusts one of the boilers at Braziers Park

James explained more about the Braziers Park heat system that Oxford Renewables installed:

“The heating system at Braziers Park is based on a cascade of two SOLARFOCUS 60kW  Therminators, which heat a pair of 3000 litre buffer tanks.  The heat from these is drawn off as required through an underground “district heating” system, which supplies both the main house 80 metres away, and two cottages as well.  The fuel is usually woodchip, although these boilers can also be run on logs.  Having a pair of boilers has several technical advantages, leading to greater efficiency.  For the community at Braziers, the new wood-fired system provided real warmth in the large old house for the first time while cutting their fuel bill by three-quarters, and above all giving them heating and hot water which is almost carbon neutral.”




James Norman of Oxford Renewables with the OneOak woodchip

James Norman of Oxford Renewables with the OneOak woodchip

With thanks to Oxford Renewables, EJM Tree Services, Hampshire Woodfuel Cooperative Ltd and Braziers Park.

For further information:

Oxford Renewables        James Norman                  http://www.oxfordrenewables.co.uk/

EJM Tree Services            Ed Mant               http://www.ejmtree.co.uk

Hampshire Woodfuel Cooperative Ltd   William Hamer   email: william.hamer@btconnect.com

Category: OneOak project, Wood
Tags: , ,

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OneOak beam afloat Queen’s Jubilee Pageant

posted on May 31, 2012

This Sunday, 3rd June, look out for the Herefordshire Bull – a traditional Trow built to take part in her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London.

Regular readers will know that the transom beam of the boat was made from the timber of the OneOak tree, and you can read the stories here.

If you are lucky enough to be there we’d be really keen to receive any photographs of the Herefordshire Bull taking part in the flotilla.

Find out more, including a map of the route with timings, by exploring the interactive map below.


Thames Jubilee Pageant Map from LondonTown.com
Category: OneOak project, Wood
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The Hereford Bull naming ceremony

posted on May 14, 2012
The Hereford Bull

The Hereford Bull

The Hereford Bull, a new boat built by T Nielsen in the traditional style of a Wye Trow, was named at a ceremony in Hereford City centre on 12th May.

The Trow included timber from our OneOak project, which was used to make the Transom Beam.

A plaque on the transom beam

A plaque on the transom beam acknowledges to the OneOak timber

Watch a short film showing the naming ceremony:

Read more posts about the trow

Category: OneOak project, Wood
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OneOak fine furniture competition winners

posted on April 13, 2012

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

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.

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.

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Sylva online shop launched

posted on October 31, 2011
Sylva Online Shop

We are delighted to launch our online shop. We have some wonderful works of art arising from the OneOak project that many people have expressed interest in.  To launch the shop we are initially offering a rare opportunity for people to own a limited edition print of a pen and ink drawing by internationally-renowned artist Sarah Simblet. Over the coming weeks and months we will be adding other artwork and products.

 The OneOak tree portrait

A stunning pen and ink portrait of the OneOak tree drawn by internationally renowned artist, and author of Botany for the Artist, Sarah Simblet. Generously donated to the Sylva Foundation by the artist. All proceeds from sales will be used for our charitable work. Only 100 limited edition prints have been made, and each hand signed and numbered by the artist.

Sarah Simblet is an artist, author and teacher of drawing at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford. Sarah made an original pen and ink drawing of the OneOak tree before it was felled in 2010. In the tradition of the teacher and art critic John Ruskin, her botanical drawings are a great aid to our understanding of the structure of plants by encouraging the viewer to study their intricate detail. Such meticulous drawings made by the human hand can be more compelling than photographs which are now commonplace in everyday life.

Printed with pigment-based inks on acid-free 310gsm FSC grade cotton rag paper, with UV coatings providing light-fastness in excess of 100 years. Double-mounted (where applicable) with off-white cotton rag board. All materials are sustainably sourced. Frames (where applicable) are made with FSC grade ash finished with natural wax.

For further information and prices visit our online shop.

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OneOak exhibition opens at Oxford University Museum of Natural History

posted on September 12, 2011

Today we are delighted to open the OneOak exhibition at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.  It will run until 27th March 2012.

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Building on the success of our five month exhibition at Oxford Botanic Garden we have created an exhibition that includes several new works of art and a new film.  It links closely to the taxonomic collection in the museum, exploring the foodchain of an oak tree with the help of the Museum’s fabulous electron microscope.  Our volunteer curator Jane King has worked tirelessly to pull the exhibition together.  Our thanks to Jane and all the staff at the Museum for their support.  We hope to see you there.


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