news

Environmental factors changing our woodlands say UK owners and foresters

posted on October 1, 2015
Bristish Woodlands Survey 2015 infographic

Bristish Woodlands Survey 2015 infographic

9/10 woodland owners and other forestry professionals who responded to a national survey about environmental change in British woodlands say they had observed at least one form of impact in the past 10 years.

Woodland owners reported increases in vertebrate pests such as deer and squirrels while among professional managers and agents, pathogens and pests were the most commonly-reported impact on the woodlands that they manage.

Responses to the British Woodlands Survey 2015

Responses to the British Woodlands Survey 2015

More than 1470 people responded to the survey. The figures are among the first results revealed by a British Woodlands Survey on Resilience and are being announced today (1 Oct) at a Conference hosted by the Royal Forestry Society and Woodland Trust, Resilient Woods: Meeting the Challenges.

Nearly three quarters (72%) of the UK’s woodlands are in private ownership. The survey provides an insight into how their owners; those who manage them and the nurseries who supply them are responding to potential challenges of the future through their planting and tree species choice. It captured the opinions and activities of those responsible for managing 11% of all privately-owned woodlands in the UK; an area covering 247,571 ha (equivalent to 245,606 rugby fields).

The survey results emphasised that in the past only 44% had specified provenance (origin) when buying trees for new planting. This highlights there may be a lack of awareness of the importance of provenance, and tree genetic diversity in general, when planning resilient woodlands. 69% of owners stated a preference in future for sourcing material grown in UK nurseries, possibly reflecting recent issues around infected imported plants – ash dieback was originally identified in the UK on plants imported from nurseries in continental Europe.

There also appears to be an appetite among private woodland owners towards a move from the current mix of native and non native tree species to a 6% increase in native species compared to non-native species. Such as change was not supported by forestry professionals.

Looking to the future, most respondents believe that climate change will significantly affect our forests, although there is considerable uncertainty among private woodland owners among whom more than 50% are uncertain or don’t believe it will affect forests in the future. This is despite risks highlighted including flooding, drought, wind and fire.

Dr Gabriel Hemery, Chief Executive of the Sylva Foundation and survey co-ordinator, said: “We are passionate at Sylva about working with the many thousands of owners and forestry professionals whose voices are not often heard. The weight of the response to this survey will allow their views and experiences to inform policy and practice for years to come. We are grateful to all those who took part, and indebted to our partner organisations for their support.”

Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust CEO said: “The survey results give the industry some real insight into how our woodlands are changing. We hope the survey will help to stimulate discussion at the conference in order to help kick-start a unified approach to understand the issues more fully, tackle challenges we face as a sector together, and identify a way forward to help create a resilient landscape for the future.”

Simon Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Royal Forestry Society (RFS), whose membership includes many of the private woodland owners of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, says : “The survey shows that most woodland owners are already experiencing the adverse impacts of pests and disease in their woods and expect this trend to continue in future. Survey respondents recognise the need to improve the resilience of their woods to environmental change. The challenge is to provide woodland owners with the evidence base to support long term decisions on species choice and management systems. A lot more work is required in this area.”

 

Of the survey respondents, 821 (56%) were private woodland owners, with professional agents responsible for managing 3473 woodlands and 13 specialist tree nurseries with a combined annual turnover of more than £7.5m also taking part.

The information from the survey will be used by organisations, policy makers and researchers to help improve the resilience of the nation’s forests, and how better support can be provided to woodland owners and managers. The results will also inform the government’s National Adaptation Programme for England.

A full report will be published before the end of the year and made freely available at www.sylva.org.uk/bws


Notes to Editors

The British Woodlands Survey is a series of surveys undertaken to gather evidence about the nations’ woodlands and those who care for them. The British Woodlands Survey is co-ordinated by the Sylva Foundation with support from a large number of organisations. The 2015 survey on the theme of resilience was sponsored by Forestry Commission England, Oxford University, and Woodland Trust. www.sylva.org.uk/bws

The Royal Forestry Society (RFS) is an educational charity and one of the oldest membership organisations for those actively involved in woodland management. The RFS believes bringing neglected woods back into management and sharing knowledge on how to manage woods to a high standard is vital to the long term health of our woods and trees. Our policies identify what is required to ensure our woods deliver their full economic, environmental and public benefits. For information go to www.rfs.org.uk. Follow us: Twitter: @royal_forestry, Facebook: Royal Forestry Society – RFS, Linked- In: Royal Forestry Society

The Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity working to revive Britain’s wood culture. It works across Britain caring for forests, to ensure they thrive for people and for nature, and supporting innovation in home-grown wood. Sylva’s forestry think-tank, Forestry Horizons, is the home of the British Woodlands Survey series, which was launched in 2012. Its myForest service is used by more than 3000 woodland owners and agents across Britain. It supports forest education through a number of initiatives, and is fostering businesses at the Sylva Wood Centre in Oxfordshire, which opened in 2015. www.sylva.org.uk Contact: Dr Gabriel Hemery, Chief Executive. 01865 408016 (direct dial) or 07759 141438 (mobile). gabriel@sylva.org.uk

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. The Trust has three key aims:  i) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable, ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life, iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife. Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares. Access to its woods is free.


Comments (4)

National survey featured on BBC Radio

posted on September 11, 2015

The British Woodlands Survey — this year exploring adaptation to environmental change — has featured on BBC Radio 4 Farming Today.

Gabriel Hemery interview, BBC Radio 4 Farming Today

Gabriel Hemery (centre) and Nigel Fisher being interviewed by Ruth Sanderson at the University of Oxford’s Wytham Woods for BBC Radio 4 Farming Today, September 2015

Sylva CEO Gabriel Hemery arranged for the programme to visit the University of Oxford’s Wytham Woods, perhaps one of the most studied woodlands in the UK. It was an ideal location to discuss the subject of environmental change and how woodland owners can respond, especially given the breadth of research underway in the woodland.

BBC Radio 4 Farming Today

BBC Radio 4 Farming Today. Click to Listen Again.

Conservator Nigel Fisher joined Gabriel for a lively discussion about Wytham Woods, where Nigel revealed their visionary 100 year plan, together with approaches to immediate issues such as the inevitable arrival of ash dieback disease in the county.

You can listen to the programme again here.

If you haven’t already done so, please do try and find the time (15-20 minutes) to complete the survey:

Take the survey


Comments (0)

Conference: Resilient Woodlands – meeting the challenges

posted on September 7, 2015
Resilient Woodlands conference: 1st October

Resilient Woodlands conference: 1st October

An important conference — Resilient Woodlands: meeting the challenges — is taking place at Birmingham on 1st October, and places are still available.

The conference is not only where people can hear the first results of the British Woodlands Survey 2015 but also listen to a top level line up of speakers raising the questions we need to consider about the impact of climate change on our woods and offering their perspectives on measures to support moves towards increased resilience. Organised jointly by the Royal Forestry Society and the Woodland Trust it promises to be a lively conference with plenty of time for discussion which anybody with an active interest in the long term health of our woods will benefit from attending.

Speakers include:

  • Mike Townsend, Woodland Trust
  • Dr Gabriel Hemery, Sylva Foundation
  • Duncan Stone, Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Graham Taylor, Pryor and Rickett
  • Professor Rob Mackenzie, BiFor
  • Dr Tom Tew, Vincent Wildlife Trust
  • Philippe Morgan, President, Pro Silva

A full programme and booking details can be found here.


Comments (0)

Encouraging response to national survey with two weeks remaining

posted on September 3, 2015
British Woodlands Survey 2015

British Woodlands Survey 2015

The British Woodlands Survey — this year exploring adaptation to environmental change — is attracting interest from people right across Britain.

We are hugely grateful to all those who have responded. So far over 1200 woodland owners, agents, nursery managers and tree professionals have shared their views and information with us. This is immensely encouraging with over two weeks still to run until we close the survey. The deadline is 15th September.

Map of survey responses received as of 2nd September

Map of survey responses received as of 2nd September

A simple look at the geography of responses received to date shows that there is under-representation in Scotland, and various regions across Britain. Are you in any of these areas, or can you forward this news item to any contacts and encourage them to take part?

In terms of woodland area represented in survey responses received to date, owners and agents managing more than 10% of all privately-owned forests and woodlands across Britain have completed the survey. We can have some confidence that this representation will provide considerable weight to the findings of the survey.

The more responses received representing the full range of attitudes and experiences among the tree and forestry community, the more robust the scientific findings, and the greater the impact on practice and policy for years to come.

 

If you haven’t already done so, please do try and find the time (15-20 minutes) to complete the survey.
Thank you.

Take the survey


(more…)


Comments (0)

Resilient woodlands: meeting the challenge

posted on June 11, 2015

An important conference will take place on October 1st concerning the challenges facing our woodlands from environmental change. Organised jointly by the Royal Forestry Society and the Woodland Trust,  we are pleased to have been invited to contribute. Sylva Foundation CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery will present early findings from the latest of our British Woodlands Surveys — to launch this summer on the theme of resilience (read more) — and discuss these in the context of practical action that woodland owners can take.


October 1st 2015

The RFS and The Woodland Trust present: 

Resilient Woodlands: meeting the challenges

resilience - are you meeting the challenges

Resilience – are you meeting the challenges? A poster produced by Sylva in 2014

Everybody’s talking about the challenges, but what should you be doing?

Join a top line up of speakers at the National Motorcyle Museum , Birmingham, to address these three key questions:

  • What are the key challenges for woods and woodland owners in the 21st century?
  • How can we make woods and wooded landscapes both ecologically and financially resilient?
  • What does this mean in terms of policy and practice?

The event brings together a unique line up of experts to discuss the questions which impact on all woodland owners and managers, and on everyone who loves or is involved in woodlands – what should we all be doing to ensure our woodlands are resilient to the threats from environmental change?

Full details of the conference, the speakers and how to book go to www.rfs.org.uk 

The conference counts towards CPD for a number of organisations, and  places are limited, so book early!

RFS President Sophie Churchill and The Woodland Trust CEO, Beccy Speight will be chairing the day.

Speakers are: Resilient Landscapes – Mike Townsend, Woodland Trust; Ecological Resilience in Woodlands –  Duncan Stone, Scottish Natural Heritage; Making Woodlands Pay – Graham Taylor, Pryor and Rickett Silviculture; Resilience: a research perspective – Professor Rob MacKenzie , BIFoR; Forest Resilience and Climate Change – Jonathan Spencer, Forestry Commission; Resilience in Living Landscapes – Stephen Trotter, the Wildlife Trusts; Natural Capital – Professor  Dieter Helm, Chairman of Natural Capital Committee (by video); Marketing your Woodland: innovations in wood product markets – Jez Ralph, Timber Strategies; Are pine martens the answer to grey squirrel control? – Dr Tom Tew, Chief Executive Environment Bank and Chairman of Vincent Wildlife Trust; A Practical Guide to taking Action on Resilience – Dr Gabriel Hemery, Sylva Foundation.


Comments (0)

Citizen science and tree health highlighted

posted on April 30, 2015
Woodland Trust Wood Wise - Spring 2015.

Woodland Trust Wood Wise – Spring 2015. Click to read and download.

The Spring issue of the Woodland Trust’s magazine Wood Wise focusses on the role that everyone in society can take in collecting important information about trees.

It includes the Living Ash Project www.livingashproject.org.uk, which is featured alongside many other great initiatives. This is a project in which we are working alongside the Earth Trust, Forest Research the Future Trees Trust, with funding from Defra. We are hoping to attract more volunteers this Spring to capture the latest spread of ash dieback and possible tolerance exhibited by some trees.

Our thanks to the Woodland Trust and editor Kay Hawes.

 


Comments (0)

Congratulations to Dr Kirsty Monk

posted on March 12, 2015
Sylva Scholar Kirsty Monk conducting fieldwork mapping fungal cords

Oxford-Sylva Scholar Kirsty Monk conducting fieldwork mapping fungal cords at Wytham Woods in 2012

Congratulations to Dr Kirsty Monk, our first Oxford-Sylva scholar (2010-14), who passed her DPhil viva voce last week!

Kirsty studied the role of cord-forming fungi in British woodlands at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, and has since started pursuing a career as a science teacher.

We will make available the full thesis in the near future.

Read more about the Oxford-Sylva scholarship


Comments (0)

Oxford-Sylva scholar features in Oxford University annual review

posted on February 3, 2015

We are delighted that Oxford-Sylva scholar Louise Hill features in the University of Oxford 2013-14 Annual Review. Interviewed for the publication, Louise — who is studying the environmental impact of ash dieback disease on woodland for her DPhil in Plant Sciences — commented:

“‘I was in Borneo with very patchy internet when I received an email informing me I’d won the scholarship. It was brilliant – all my hopes were resting on it. In this current challenging funding environment, it was a lifeline.”

Louise Hill in Wytham Woods. Photo John Cairns

Louise Hill, Oxford-Sylva scholar, in Wytham Woods. Photo John Cairns

Sylva Foundation Chief Executive Dr Gabriel Hemery said:

“We base all our work on sound evidence, so investing in top-quality science is an important strand in our strategy. The scholarship allows us to foster champion environmental scientists of the future through a close working relationship with a leading university, meaning that our work will have a lasting legacy.”

Read more in the University of Oxford 2013-14 Annual Review

We are currently fundraising towards the Oxford-Sylva scholarship. If you are interested in finding out more about the scholarship, and how you may be able to support it, please click here.

 


Comments (0)

Last chance to participate in British Woodlands Survey 2014

posted on October 13, 2014
British Woodlands Survey 2014

British Woodlands Survey 2014

Participation in the British Woodlands Survey 2014 so far has been excellent – some 520 people have taken part in Welsh and English. Between them, they own or manage almost 56 thousand hectares (3% of privately owned woodland in the UK). The focus of this year’s survey is on Ancient Woodland and Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS), and we are particularly encouraged that respondents own or manage over 14 thousand hectares of these areas, which is almost certainly over 5% of the total.

This represent an encouraging response, yet we would welcome even more responses from woodland owners who may be less certain that they own ancient woodland or those for whom engaging in any management activities in their woodland is difficult. Responses to date have indicated a very high level of knowledge about ancient woodlands and PAWS (though, interestingly, perhaps somewhat lower levels of certainty about identifying these types of woodland), but more information will help enrich these findings considerably.

As one respondent remarked

“We don’t own any PAWS . . . however that doesn’t mean we don’t think it is important . . .”

And in terms of helping shape future advice , another respondent remarked:

“We are a charity with not much knowledge of how to manage our woodland and not a great deal of time to commit. Any partner work, information and advice would be much appreciated!”

 There is one more week left to participate – please do spare 15 minutes if you can to add your insights.

Click here to take the survey


Comments (0)

T20Q – Top twenty questions for forestry and landscape

posted on October 7, 2014
Take the T20Q survey

Take the T20Q survey

Researchers from around the world are gathering this week at the IUFRO 24th World Congress in Salt Lake City to discuss the future, and the related challenges, facing forests and forest management in the 21st century. This comes hard on the heels of the climate talks in New York in late September, where forests were high on the agenda, the CGIAR Development Dialogues, which aired synergies (and, importantly, gaps) between forestry, agriculture and other land-use sectors, and a Colloquium on Forests and Climate organised by Columbia University and CIFOR, at which leading thinkers considered how we could ‘change the future by challenging the present’.

All of these events provide a ‘sort of scientific crystal ball to give glimpses into the years ahead and discuss how to meet and adapt to coming challenges’, as Congress Spotlight 17 so eloquently put it!

The T20Q project is also a crystal ball and is asking, this time ‘non-leading’ thinkers, to add their no-less-important thoughts to the questions of where forestry’s priorities lie for research and policy.

T20Q – ‘top twenty questions for forestry and landscapes’ is a project within the broader Evidence-Based Forestry (EBF) initiative, led by CIFOR and its Partners. It follows a highly successful ‘T10Q’ project for British foresters, but this time extends the call for questions in three languages to a wider community of people involved with forestry and landscapes. It is being co-ordinated by the Sylva Foundation, a leading UK charity promoting evidence-informed forestry.

Response has been excellent so far – reaching people in more than 104 countries, and engaging many more young people and women than is usual with surveys in our field! We have received well over 3000 questions, but we would like to use the opportunity of engaging with the ‘IUFRO family’ now gathered in Salt Lake City to urge them to add their voices and to encourage people in their home institutions also to join the T20Q conversation.

The survey takes less than 30 minutes. Take part if you think:

  • we need to recalibrate how forests are presented in mainstream politics
  • too few people are involved in setting research and policy agendas
  • we should talk about forestry in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • ‘traditional’ forestry topics are being side-lined in the pursuit of broader linkages

 

Take part in the Survey: you can input in English, French or Spanish.

Visit the CIFOR booth (numbers 1103 & 1202) in the Congress Exhibition for more information about T20Q and Evidence-Based Forestry.

We look forward to hearing your stimulating questions!

Have a wonderful conference!

Gillian Petrokofsky, University of Oxford Research Fellow & CIFOR Senior Research Associate
Gabriel Hemery, CEO, Sylva Foundation
Peter Holmgren, DG, CIFOR

This article appeared first in the IUFRO blog


Comments (0)
« Newer PostsOlder Posts »