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Support for collaborative woodland management

posted on December 7, 2018

From today, users of our myForest service can query resource information across multiple properties which can help support collaborative woodland management.

Suited equally to woodland co-operatives or managers with multiple clients, the new functionality aims to improve efficiency by enhancing collaboration, with the main outcomes that more woodlands are managed well, and more home-grown timber reaches the market.

Most of Britain’s large plantation forests are managed as part of a crop rotation, but there are many smaller woodlands across the country, often part of mixed farms and estates under separate ownership, which are not being managed as costs can be prohibitive at small scales.

There can be distinct opportunities from scaling-up, such as: combining timber volumes to meet a new market demand; mixing timber from multiple small parcels to reduce haulage costs; or by undertaking similar operations at the same time of year to reduce costs. However, it can be complicated for agents managing data between clients, or for a co-operative project knowing enough about the resources managed by different members.

The new collaborative woodland management functionality in myForest aims to overcome these barriers by allowing users to query information across multiple clients/members. This includes:

  • search for species plus associated data (e.g. height, stem diameter, quality) across all properties/clients/members.
  • export sub-compartment information from these searchers into Excel to help with data management and manipulation.
  • browse sub-compartment locations on a map to view distances and conditions between different properties.
  • import data from new clients already on myForest, including mapping and inventory data.
  • search for areas with designations, such as SSSIs.
  • restrict searches to sites with felling licence applications.

The project arose thanks to collaboration with the Argyll Small Wood Coop. The Coop were working hard to provide their members with management plans, but were looking for a way of being able to query the information they had collected across their membership base to assess opportunities for collaborative management and marketing.

Here’s a real-life example of how the functionality can work for a Coop:

  1. Coop member Jamie Smith had a small parcel of oak on his farm that the Coop was trying to market for him.  There was a possible market available but because of the small volume of the parcel, haulage costs would make the operation uneconomic.
  2. The Coop searched its member database using the collaborative woodland management functionality on myForest to find out if there are any other Coop members with trees of the right specification that could make the overall offering more profitable.
  3. The Coop coordinator finds that Eleanor Davis has oak of a similar size on her farm.  They agree to market jointly both Jamie and Eleanor’s oak.
  4. Jamie and Eleanor’s woodlands entered active management and the woodland operations became profitable.

Equally the tool could work in the same way for woodland managers with multiple clients.

Sylva Foundation worked closely with Argyll Small Woods Coop and Wyre Community Land Trust to test and improve the functionality. Project funding was provided by Forestry Commission Scotland and Making Local Woods Work, together with core funding support from The Dulverton Trust.

As with all new developments in myForest we reply on feedback from the myForest community to make improvements. Please feel free to contact us with your feedback on this and any other aspect of myForest.


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BWS2017 attracts 1,600 respondents with 0.5Mha woodlands

posted on September 28, 2017

With just days to go until the British Woodlands Survey 2017 is closed, we are pleased to report an encouraging response with more than 1,600 stakeholders taking part. The majority (59%) of respondents have been woodland owners, with a wide cross section of those with other interests in woodlands and forestry also sharing their experiences and views (see chart below). The area of woodland represented by survey respondents considerably exceeds half a million hectares.

BWS2017-respondents to date

BWS2017-respondents to date

If you have already taken part in the survey we are very grateful – please do forward this to anyone else you know who may have an interest. If you haven’t yet taken part please consider doing so: visit www.sylva.org.uk/bws2017

The survey will close at 23:59 on Sunday 1st October.


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Good Woods working with Surrey Wildlife Trust

posted on October 4, 2013
The morning session was held in Bramley Village Hall and included a presentation on timber volume assessments by Rob Davis, the Surrey Wildlife Trust Woodland Officer

The morning session was held in Bramley Village Hall and included a presentation on timber volume assessments by Rob Davis, the Surrey Wildlife Trust Woodland Officer

In September, as part of the Good Woods project, Alistair Yeomans of the Sylva Foundation contributed to a woodland management seminar organised for staff of the Surrey Wildlife Trust.

The principle aspects of developing a woodland management plan were discussed and how management planning ensures that woodland work conforms to the UK Forestry Standard.

A key step in creating a woodland plan is to map the various areas of woodland so that uniform woodland areas can be identified for planning purposes. Guidance for carrying this out can be found in the Forestry Commission England’s English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) 1 guidance document. The following is taken from the document and describes how a woodland can be divided into compartments and sub-compartments for planning purposes.

Woodland properties, compartments and sub-compartments

The afternoon session was held at the woodland at Chinthurst Hill where Alistair Yeomans of the Sylva Foundation explained to Surrey Wildlife Trust staff how to divide a woodland into compartments and sub-compartments for the purposes of a woodland plan

The afternoon session was held at the woodland at Chinthurst Hill where Alistair Yeomans of the Sylva Foundation explained to Surrey Wildlife Trust staff how to divide a woodland into compartments and sub-compartments for the purposes of a woodland plan

A property is defined as the largest unit of management used in decision making. This may be made up of multiple blocks of woodlands across a landscape that is under the same ownership. The forest industry uses “compartments” and “sub-compartments” to identify discrete areas of woodland just like the parcelling system used in agriculture, where each field has a unique reference.

Compartments are discrete woodlands (or parts of larger woodlands) defined by physical features such as roads, watercourses, tracks and land use changes. Compartment boundaries (like field edges beside a road) will hardly ever change. Most small farm woodlands can be considered as one compartment.

Sub-compartments are subdivisions of these permanent compartments. The boundaries of these are defined by significant differences found inside the woodland. This will include the boundaries of different species (or simpler divisions between conifer, broadleaved or mixed areas). Also relevant are things like significant age differences between adjacent areas, fence lines and features like rides and open glades.

Minimal intervention, management planning and the UK Forestry Standard

Leo who manages the woodland at Chinthurst Hill explains to his colleagues the current coppicing operations and future plans for the woodland.

Leo who manages the woodland at Chinthurst Hill explains to his colleagues the current coppicing operations and future plans for the woodland.

Some of the woodlands that the Surrey Wildlife Trust manages are situated on environmentally sensitive sites such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). If it is deemed that a minimal intervention approach is the best management strategy for these areas of woodlands then it is important to include these areas in the management plan, detailing why the decision has been made.

The UKFS guidance on minimum intervention is as follows:

Assess the possible areas for minimum intervention and, where these will deliver habitat objectives, allow ecological processes to develop. 

This should relate to a monitoring schedule to assess the condition of the habitat over the course of the management plan (usually ten years) to evaluate the condition of the habitat and if minimum intervention is indeed the most appropriate strategy.

Other areas of woodland that are deemed to offer productive potential (for both habitat and production purposes) should also be clearly detailed on a map which will form part of the management plan.


Good Woods - for people, for nature

Visit the Good Woods web page

The Good Woods project is a novel project aiming to breathe new life into UK woodlands. The project—a joint initiative between DIY giant B&Q, sustainability charity BioRegional and forestry charity The Sylva Foundation—will revive woodlands to provide environmental, social and economic benefits. For more information contact Amy Hammond: amy@lantern.uk.com


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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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