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online tools and resources for woodland management
Today the Sylva Foundation launches a set of new woodland management resources for teachers, Forest School leaders and other outdoor educators, through the myForest for Education website.
myForest for Education is a free online application that enables educators to produce simple maps and management plans for their outdoor education sites, and has been designed in partnership with the Forest School Association to support Forest School leaders. myForest currently has over 1500 registered education users. In response to recent user feedback, Sylva Foundation have produced a new step-by-step PDF help guide, a guide to ecological impact assessment, and a set of tutorial videos for using myForest for Education.
Watch the video
Explore the new help resources for use with myForest for Education
In a nationwide survey of 1,171 people led by the Sylva Foundation in 2019  , tree health was identified as a key training need area by educators. Together with the Forestry Commission Plant Health Forestry Team, the Sylva Foundation have produced a set of pest and disease factsheets for four common broadleaved trees, directly addressing this need. The resources are designed for use in the field by Forest School leaders and other educators, alone or with older children (9+), helping to spot common tree pests and diseases and providing reporting and management advice. They are the first tree pest and disease resources in England designed specifically for educators.
Sylva Foundation have also produced a leaf insect herbivore identification guide, for use by educators in the field and to plan bug-related activities with children.
We hope you enjoy using the new resources on myForest for Education. These resources have been made possible with funding from the Ernest Cook Trust, and were developed in collaboration with Sylva Foundation intern Elsa Field, a DPhil student from Oxford University whose internship was funded through NERC.
 Hemery, G., Hurst, J., Petrokofsky, G., (2019).
Bringing children closer to nature: report of a survey on Forest School and outdoor learning in England. 23pp. www.sylva.org.uk/forestschools
New web software will help deer management across landscapes
Environmental charity the Sylva Foundation has launched a major new version of a web platform and mobile app designed to help with the management of deer across landscapes.
Many woodlands suffer significant impacts from expanding deer populations, creating poor conditions for wildlife. Improving woodland condition requires the careful and consistent management of deer populations, often in collaboration with neighbouring owners and managers across a landscape.
Deer Manager App
Two years ago, in partnership with The Deer Initiative, Sylva Foundation released new functionality within its online woodland management platform myForest aimed at helping landowners and stalkers collect and collate deer management information. Working closely with stakeholders the charity has since been working to provide more functionality to meet additional requirements of stalkers and land managers.
Today, a completely revised myForest Deer Manager app has been launched. Alongside the app, significant improvements to the website have also been released. The development of these new platforms was supported by the Forestry Commission and Natural England.
This app is focussed specifically on the requirements of stalkers. It helps stalkers to collect deer cull and sighting data across multiple sites to allow them to:
Collect cull information including, species, sex, age, larder weight and location.
Collect information on other deer seen during an outing.
Add notes that can be associated with culls or outings.
Export data to a spreadsheet for reporting to others or for their own records.
Link directly to the myForest website to allow submission of stalking information at the press of a button.
The revised app has useful functionality that can have benefits at many levels. For stalkers who wish to maintain records for their own interest it provides a really simple and efficient platform. The benefits of the system are that once the properties or woodlands are set up in the app, the stalker can use the simple drop-down menus to record culls or blank outings minimising the risk of incorrect data input and providing either themselves or a landowner/manager with invaluable data on cull and effort.
For landowners who require cull records from their own land, it helps to maintain cull records and monitor deer management activity which can be useful for internal planning and reporting, for example a Countryside Stewardship deer management plan. For larger organisations with multiple properties and deer managers the system provides user-friendly tools which reports to a conventional excel format.
Deer Management functionality on myForest website
A new suite of online tools has been designed for landowners and managers to collect, store and collate deer management information including the ability to:
Collect and collate cull information from multiple stalkers through linkages with the myForest Deer Manager mobile app.
View cull and sighting data on a map allowing managers to spot landscape patterns.
Export all data to a spreadsheet for further manipulation, and allow reporting to others e.g. grant bodies.
Further updates are planned to improve functionality, including adding enhanced data storage for indicators such as deer impact assessments and the ability to download bespoke reports.
Deer Manager website
Paul Orsi, Director of Operations at Sylva Foundation, said:
“By working with The Deer Initiative and other stakeholders in the sector we have been able to significantly improve the deer management functionality offered through myForest. In particular, we have made the mobile app more stalker focussed. We hope these improvements will lead to better record keeping, allowing improved management of deer populations across landscapes.”
David Jam, Executive Director of The Deer Initiative, said:
“Lethal control of wildlife, including deer management, is under increasing public scrutiny, therefore there is a greater need than ever to maintain records and provide evidence of management activity. The myForest Deer Manager app enables land and deer managers to collect detailed data easily on deer culled and deer management effort.”
Notes for Editors
For media enquiries and to interview Sylva staff, please contact:
Paul Orsi, Director of Operations, Tel. 01865 408018, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why we need to manage deer
With no natural predators and extensive suitable habitat in the UK, deer are increasing in distribution and abundance. In some cases, localised overabundance can lead to deer coming into conflict with other species as well as human and land management objectives.
£4.5m: The cost of damage caused by deer to plantations and other commercial woodlands, according to the Scottish Forestry. The loss of natural capital value is yet to be calculated but will be significant.
8,000 hectares: The area of woodland with Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) status that is currently in ‘unfavourable’ or ‘recovering’ condition due to deer impacts. This is likely to represent a fraction of the real picture, according to the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST). “Deer can affect the age diversity of a woodland, resulting in a fall in numbers of species, and strip bark off older trees, which kills them,” says Paul Wilkinson of the Wildlife Trusts.
74,000: The number of road traffic accidents a year involving deer, which kill between 10-20 people, according to the RSPCA.
£4.3m a year: The cost of deer damage to crops, according to Defra, with the greatest damage on cereal crops in east and south-west England.
50%: The decline in woodland bird numbers where deer are present, according to the University of East Anglia’s Dr Paul Dolman: “Deer will eat the understorey and so the coppices, for example, lose their shrub layer. That can be a problem for nightingales and other long-distance migrants, such as willow warblers, chiffchaffs and blackcaps.
2019 State of Nature Report Increasing deer numbers (both native species such as Roe and non-natives such as Muntjac), have a heightened impact on woodland and its dependent wildlife as they reduce natural regeneration and alter woodland structure through increased grazing and browsing.
Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity registered in England and Wales (No.1128516) and in Scotland (No.SC041892). It aims to help Britain’s trees and woodlands thrive for people and for nature. Sylva Foundation believes that a dynamic relationship between people and the natural environment is critically important for a sustainable future. Its online woodland management platform myForest is used by more than 5,500 owners and 1,200 agents across Britain to care for almost 1,000 km2 of woodland. www.sylva.org.uk
The Deer Initiative
The Deer Initiative is a broad partnership of statutory, voluntary and private sector interests dedicated to ‘ensuring the delivery of a sustainable wild deer population in England and Wales’ (www.thedeerinitiative.co.uk). The Partners include organisations as the RSPCA, RSPB and Highways England. All the members of the Partnership abide by the principles of the Deer Accord and encourage others to share their commitment and priorities as an integral part of their management of deer. E-mail: email@example.com
Updates to Management Plans and Felling Permissions in Scotland
From today both the Management Plan template and Felling Permissions application have been updated in myForest. If you have previously created a management plan or generated a felling licence application, the information and data entered will now be in these new templates.
Scottish Forestry logo
On 1 April 2019, the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018 came into effect, completing the devolution of forestry to Scotland.
This has led to the creation of two new Scottish Government forestry agencies. One of them, Forestry and Land Scotland, is now responsible for managing the National Forest Estate. The other, Scottish Forestry, replaces Forestry Commission Scotland, and is responsible for forestry policy, regulation, support and the awarding and payment of forestry grants.
As part of these changes Scottish Forestry have updated their Woodland Management Plan template and Felling Permissions application form.
A screen shot of new management plan editor in myForest
Although this is mainly the same as the previous template, Scottish Forestry have added the ability to generate felling permissions through the management plan approval process for thinning. Other forms of felling will still need to go through the Felling Permissions applications process.
To comply with the new Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018, Scottish Forestry have updated the Felling Permission (previously known as Felling Licence) application form. Again, the information you are required to provide is almost the same as before, but with the addition of a few additional fields.
myForest users can benefit from a new online system for generating felling licences.
Felling Licence Online
We have been working closely with FC England over the last year to make sure that myForest users can benefit from a new online system without have to re-enter information that they have already entered into myForest. From today, myForest now has the additional functionality necessary to generate the file types needed to upload directly into Felling Licence Online.
In England, woodland owners and managers can apply for felling licences in two different ways:
Plan of Operations
When developing a management plan, owners and managers can fill out a Plan of Operations. This document provides Forestry Commission England with all of the information they need to generate your felling licences for the next 10 years.
Felling Licence Online
It is also possible to apply for felling licences that cover discrete parts of your woodland. Until recently this process was handled through a paper application, but earlier this year Forestry Commission England released a new online system to process applications called Felling Licence Online.
We have some new video guidance to help users through this process:
From today, myForest Premium users will have access to new OS mapping background where both online viewing and printing is free.
As part of their Open MasterMap Implementation Programme, the Ordnance Survey have recently launched a new product called OS Open Zoomstack which makes OS Open Data more accessible. We are pleased to be able to pass on this new functionality to our myForest Premium users.
The background maps displayed through Zoomstack are not as detailed as those available through the paid service, but may be sufficient in many situations to help woodland owners and agents manage their woodland (see comparison maps below).
OS Zoomstack – available through myForest Premium with no additional fees
OS Vector Map Local – available through myForest Premium with an additional fee
Ordnance Survey licensed mapping
Sylva are working closely with OS to make sure we can offer the best and most efficient maps to the myForest community. We will let you know about the benefits of the Open MasterMap Implementation Programme and what it will mean for myForest later in the year.