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Help shape the future of forestry

posted on September 4, 2017

Click to take part

Devolution, pests & pathogens, Brexit, emerging markets, climate change, societal attitudes . . . these are just some of the momentous factors influencing our trees and woodlands, those who care for them, and those who rely on their products and services.

Have your say about what these and other issues mean to you by taking part in Britain’s only dedicated national survey about our woodlands and forestry: the British Woodlands Survey 2017.

The last BWS, which focussed on environmental change, represented 11% of all privately-owned forest land in Britain with 1500 stakeholders taking part in the survey. This year we are asking questions around priority themes already suggested by some 400 stakeholders, plus themes of specific interest to England, Scotland and Wales.

BWS has a proven record of working with important forestry organisations in Britain to provide a solid evidence base that influences decision-making, and contributes to policy. If you are a woodland owner or manager, farmer, land agent, professional forester or forestry/wood business, please take part and help shape the future of forestry.

Take the survey or read more at: sylva.org.uk/bws2017

The survey is open until the end September.

BWS2017 is led by researchers from Forest Research, Sylva Foundation, University of Oxford and Woodland Trust. Funding for BWS2017 is provided by Scottish Forestry Trust, Forestry Commission Scotland, and Woodland Trust.

take the survey

take the survey


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You can help shape the future of forestry

posted on July 20, 2017
Some enticing early results from the first 500 respondents to BWS2017

Some enticing early results from the first 500 respondents to BWS2017

Since launching the British Woodlands Survey 2017 (BWS2017) two weeks ago we’ve received an encouraging uptake, with 500 respondents completing the survey to date. Thank you to all those who have taken part so far, and to our many partners in helping promote the survey to their members.

The last BWS, which explored issues relating to environmental change, represented 11% of all privately-owned forest land in Britain with 1,500 stakeholders taking part in the 2015 survey. This year we are asking questions around priority themes already suggested by some 400 stakeholders, plus themes of specific interest to England, Scotland and Wales. For example, those with interests in Scotland and Wales were particularly focussed on land reform, while those in England wanted us to ask questions about tree planting. Other major themes include developing the wood chain, and societal benefits. For the 2017 survey we hope to attract the best response so far; afterall this will make the findings even more powerful as an evidence base to help shape the future of forestry.

BWS has a proven record of working with important forestry organisations in Britain to provide a solid evidence base that influences decision-making, and contributes to policy. If you are a woodland owner or manager, farmer, land agent, professional forester or forestry/wood business, please take part and help shape the future of forestry.

Take the survey or read more at: sylva.org.uk/bws2017

The survey is open until to end September.

BWS2017 is led by researchers from Forest Research, Sylva Foundation, University of Oxford and Woodland Trust. Funding for BWS2017 is provided by Scottish Forestry Trust, Forestry Commission Scotland, and Woodland Trust.

take the survey

take the survey


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Woodland owners – have your say in the 2017 Charter

posted on September 7, 2016

Woodland owners and custodians across Britain are being asked to take part in a unique consultation in support of the 2017 Charter for trees, woods and people.

Charter for Trees, Woods and People

Charter for Trees, Woods and People

More than 50 organisations, co-ordinated by the Woodland Trust, are leading UK society in a call for a charter that will ensure that people and trees can stand stronger together in the future. This charter, strengthened by support from all corners of society, will provide guidelines and principles for policy, decision-makers, businesses, communities and individuals.

Sylva Foundation is pleased to be hosting a consultation that will enable woodland owners and custodians across the UK to help define the 2017 Charter for Trees, Woods and People.

The consultation is the only activity specifically aimed at ensuring the views of woodland owners or custodians are reflected in the charter. More than two-thirds of woodlands are held in private hands, so it is vital that the voices of woodland owners/custodians are captured. If you are a woodland owner or custodian, or represent a woodland owner, we would like to record your hopes and fears for the future of your woodland, to ensure that the charter speaks for you, and supports you in your vital role as custodian of the nation’s woodland heritage.

The consultation questions should take only five minutes to complete, or longer if you wish to share more stories. The name of your woodland will be officially recorded in the 2017 Charter for trees, woods and people.

To take part visit: sylva.org.uk/myforest/charter


Sylva Foundation CEO Gabriel Hemery has written a blog post for the Charter website: read it here

 


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A brave new world for woodland managers

posted on January 15, 2015

A report published today demonstrates that private forestry holds the balance of power in meeting the challenges of environmental change. Woodland managers will need courage to make forward-looking decisions to ensure our woodlands can thrive in future. Nine out of ten woodland managers have experienced environmental change in recent years, yet less than half believe the UK’s forests will be affected in future.

British Woodlands Survey 2015 report

British Woodlands Survey 2015 report. Click to access.

At the historic COP21 climate talks in Paris the world came together and agreed to reduce the effects of climate change. Our woodlands and the products they produce play a significant role in the balance of greenhouse gases, for example by storing carbon, while also providing many benefits for people and wildlife. However, unless our woodlands are able to adapt to environmental change — which includes not only surviving in a warming climate, but also coping with threats from pests and diseases, fire and flooding — then none of these benefits will arise.

Our trees and woodlands need to be resilient or be able to ‘bounce back better’ in the face of threats from environmental change. Fortunately we have a forestry standard for the UK (the UKFS) that is recognised globally as exemplary. This includes 18 key guidelines that aim to ensure that our woodlands are able to adapt to environmental change. If woodlands are managed according to these guidelines then we could have some confidence that UK forestry is well-prepared for environmental change. Examples might include anticipating a warmer climate by choosing the best species to plant for future conditions, or by taking actions to limit the spread of pests and diseases. But are woodland owners and managers aware of their vital role in helping the UK respond to environmental change?

Woodlands cover 13% of the UK’s land area and almost three quarters of this (2,283,000 ha; Forestry Commission 2015) is privately owned. This means that the actions of private woodland owners and managers, rather than public bodies such as the Forestry Commission, are likely to have the greatest effect both on the vitality of our woodlands, and on any contribution we can make to mitigating the effects of climate change. However, questions have never been asked of woodland owners and managers about their awareness, actions or aspirations relating to environmental change, or how well they may be following the guidelines of the UKFS.

Earlier in 2015 a group of ten leading forestry and woodland organisations collaborated to run a national survey to address these questions; exploring awareness, action and aspiration relating to environmental change among private woodland owners and managers, and forestry professionals. The research was funded by Forestry Commission England, Sylva Foundation, University of Oxford and the Woodland Trust. Today the main report of the the survey is published.

The survey attracted responses from 1509 people including: 827 private woodland owners; 182 forestry agents; 235 other tree and forestry professionals (e.g. NGO staff, forestry contractors); and 19 tree nursery businesses. Responses were received from across the whole of the UK: most private woodland owners were located in England, while agents proportionally represented more properties than owners in Scotland and Wales. The respondents represented an area of woodland, managed by owners or their agents, covering 247,891 ha; equal to 11% of all privately-owned woodlands in the UK.

Writing in the Foreword, Chairman of the Forestry Commission, Sir Harry Studholme, commented:

“For the first time, we have on record the ‘voice’ of more than one and a half thousand woodland owners and managers. This is critical as, if we want to make real change on the ground, this will have to be done by landowners and managers themselves. The results tell us that there is much work to do, with little progress seen on implementing adaptation to date. It is, however, pleasing to see that thought is being given to climate change and resilience.”

Lead author of the report, Chief Executive of the Sylva Foundation, Dr Gabriel Hemery, said:

“Whilst there were some positive indicators of progress in the forestry sector, it is clear that current pest and disease outbreaks are dominating the resilience agenda, with less thought given to the longer term effects of environmental change. I believe that woodland owners and managers may not be aware of the magnitude of change that is predicted.”

He continued: “I am deeply concerned that only a small majority of woodland owners believed that climate change would impact the UK’s forests in future, and by the high degree of uncertainty expressed about this. Making improvements to our communications with woodland owners and managers must now be an overwhelming and urgent priority.”

“It is clear that some brave decisions will need to be made by individual woodland owners and managers, as well as the forestry sector as a whole, if our woodlands are to thrive long into the future.”

Reflecting on the report, Mike Townsend, Principal Advisor – Conservation, at the Woodland Trust said:

“It’s clear from the results of this survey that Government, its agencies, and those in the private and voluntary sector who work with woodland owners, must provide clear advice and practical help to ensure trees and woods and the wildlife they support are able to adapt to climate change, threats from pests and pathogens and other environmental change. We need a much higher proportion of woodland under some form of considered woodland management, and action across all sectors of the forest industry to ensure the UK’s trees and woods are able to adapt and thrive.”

Results from the survey will be used by the collaborating group of organisations to develop an Action Plan. Earlier in 2015, the same organisations agreed to work together, and more widely, to prepare for environmental change by signing a Climate Change Accord (see below).

Summary of main findings:

  1. Overall, implementation of the UKFS good forestry practice requirements for climate change adaptation is currently low.
  2. High awareness among woodland stewards of environmental change impacts may provide new opportunities to engage with woodland managers, particularly if focussed around issues of direct and local relevance.
  3. Professionals and agents were generally more aware and active in implementing adaptation measures than owners, indicating that existing sources of information and outreach activities among these groups are effective.
  4. Lack of information and advice available to woodland owners and managers to help them respond to existing and emerging threats surfaced as a key issue. A number of owners expressed a view that subjects covered by the survey were too technical. Existing assumptions concerning comprehension and knowledge of adaptation and resilience may be unrealistic.
  5. A dearth of contingency plans among owners and managers to deal with major events such as fire, pest and disease outbreaks, and extreme weather, is of considerable concern.
  6. Low awareness of climate projections for their locality, together with lack of knowledge of soils, means that most woodland stewards are unaware of the potential impacts of environmental change. Most owners have not reviewed species suitability under projected climatic conditions and are therefore unaware of the need to, and potential for, improving the resilience of their woodland.
  7. Uncertainty around the concept of provenance/origin, improved planting stock and genetic diversity points to a requirement for improvements in education and the communication of scientific and practical evidence.
  8. Low levels of awareness and action in relation to biosecurity among owners, which was only marginally better among professional foresters, suggests that there is a need to review whether current guidance on biosecurity and risk assessment is appropriate and provides directions for the design and communication of predictive modelling.
  9. Targeted funding to support actions which might benefit the resilience of woodlands, in particular pest (vertebrate and invertebrate) management and control, would be highly beneficial.
  10. Many of the actions for increasing resilience will flow from good management planning and levels of understanding of the issues, both of which appear to be insufficient. The high number of woodlands without a management plan will undermine attempts to improve resilience.

 


Further Information

About the British Woodlands Survey:
The British Woodlands Survey (BWS) gathers evidence about the UK’s woodlands and those who care for them. It aims to provide a voice for private woodland owners and forestry professionals, and an evidence base on which future policies and practice can be developed. BWS2015 is the third survey in the series. The British Woodlands Survey is co-ordinated by the Sylva Foundation within its think-tank Forestry Horizons.

Download full report of BWS2015:
The report is available free to download at: www.sylva.org.uk/forestryhorizons/bws2015

Report citation:    
Hemery, G., Petrokofsky, G., Ambrose-Oji, B., Atkinson, G., Broadmeadow, M., Edwards, D., Harrison, C., Lloyd, S., Mumford, J., O’Brien, L., Reid, C., Seville, M., Townsend, M., Weir, J., and Yeomans, A., (2015). Awareness, action and aspiration among Britain’s forestry community relating to environmental change: Report of the British Woodlands Survey 2015. www.sylva.org.uk/forestryhorizons/bws2015

Partners:
The 2015 survey was supported by an Advisory Group comprising representatives of Climate Ready, Confor, Country Land & Business Association, Forestry Commission England, Forest Research, Natural England, Royal Forestry Society, Sylva Foundation, University of Oxford, and Woodland Trust.

Climate Change Accord:
Over 30 organisations with an interest in UK forestry signed the 2015 Climate Change Accord which states:

“We believe that it is necessary to act now to provide a secure future for our forests, woods and trees, that significant changes are required to widely-accepted and practiced systems of management to make them resilient, and we are committed to help realise the vision set out in this Accord.”

 


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