Wood culture revival requires collaboration and a coherent story

posted on November 11, 2015

Sylva Foundation CEO Gabriel Hemery talked about wood culture at Confor’s Westminster conference this week.

Gabriel Hemery talking at Confor's Westminster conference

Gabriel Hemery talking at Confor’s Westminster conference. Photo Grown in Britain.

After reading a couple of verses from W. H. Auden’s poem — A culture is no better than its woods — Gabriel talked about how society could revive a wood culture in Britain by addressing three key aspects.

PEOPLE – the need for more collaboration and for a coherent story so that all of society feels an affinity with the natural world. He called for Forest School to be available to all children in the UK. Such actions, he said, will ensure that society is sustainable.

WOODLANDS – the need to bring more of our forests into good management (as measured against the UK Forestry Standard), by supporting woodland managers and innovating in all areas including new green economics. This will ensure that our woodlands are sustainable.

WOOD – to bring innovation into the heart of our wood sector, from the way that we understand and inventorise our wood resources, to engineering innovations including thermal-modification and nano-crystalline cellulose. Such steps will help deliver a sustainable economy.

Gabriel ended by calling for more collaboration between organisations to create a strong and coherent voice for forestry, in all its guises.

“How much they cost each other and the gods.
A culture is no better than its woods.”

Bucolics, II: Woods; W.H. Auden.

Thanks to Confor for organising an excellent conference.

Tags: ,

Comments (1)

A golden woodland

posted on October 3, 2013

Sylva’s CEO, Gabriel Hemery, recently attended the Small Woods skill share weekend, following an invitation to give a presentation about our wood culture (read more).

Small Woods skill sharing weekend

Small Woods skill sharing weekend. Photo Small Woods.

Speaking to an audience of about 40 woodland owners attending the event at the Green Wood Centre near Ironbridge, he outlined Sylva’s work to revive a wood culture in Britain, defining it as “the stewardship of woodlands and the use of forest produce for a sustainable future.”

He explained work underway in the Good Woods project, running in conjunction with partners B&Q and BioRegional. Gabriel introduced the Woodland Star Rating, based on the UK Forestry Standard, to the audience, explaining how it aimed to support and encourage woodland owners to further their own understanding and activities, and also to demonstrate to members of the public the great work that the owners do to support sustainability in their woodlands. As he announced that the ultimate accolade for a woodland owner under this scheme was to achieve Gold Standard, one member of the audience immediately announced that she was indeed the proud owner of a Gold Standard woodland. Completely unscripted of course, it was a wonderful moment and given the rarity of woodlands achieving this standard currently, an unlikely one. This prompted a spontaneous round of applause from all.

With thanks to Small Woods for their invitation to Sylva to speak at the event.

If you are a woodland owner in south east or east England and are interested in a visit from a Good Woods advisor, please visit our Good Woods page to find out more.


Comments (0)

Skill share weekend with Small Woods

posted on September 5, 2013

Small Woods is holding a Skill Share weekend at the Green Wood Centre in Telford 6-8 September for members. If you want to take part and are not a member currently, you can join before the meeting (see below).

Meet newly appointed Small Woods CEO Mike Bentley, listen to main speakers Gabriel Hemery (Sylva) and John Weir (Forestry Commission), and enjoy a programme of workshops, demonstrations and visits in the beautiful Ironbridge Gorge.

Saturday features a range of speakers including Sylva’s Gabriel Hemery, billed as follows:

Gabriel is one of our most well known ‘thinkers’ about the future of our woodlands. He will talk about what the Independent Forestry Panel termed ‘Wood Culture’ – the understanding of the central role that woodlands play in the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of Britain and what woodland managers can do to help restore it.”

Saturday concludes with a Foresters Question Time and a barbeque. The agenda for Sunday includes visits to two local woodlands.

For more details about the event visit the Small Woods website.  Non-members of Small Woods can attend if they join the organisation at the special price of £25 for their first year’s membership by Direct Debit.

Email Phil Tidey on for more information or to book.

Category: events
Tags: ,

Comments (0)