News

Woodland Wildlife Toolkit launched

January 29, 2019

Today sees the launch of a new online toolkit that provides advice on managing woodlands for wildlife, in particular rare and declining species that are dependent on woodland habitats. The Woodland Wildlife Toolkit is aimed at anyone who owns or manages a woodland, or advises others about woodland management.

The Woodland Wildlife Toolkit contains three main tools:

  1. Search your wood’s wildlife to help you:
    • Find out which important wildlife is likely to be in or near your woodland based on available survey or distribution data
    • Understand the habitats and features that these species need
    • Provide these habitats through practical woodland management
  2. Assess your wood’s condition to get an overview of the condition of your wood’s habitats and identify any issues you may need to address.
  3. Woodland guidance for practical advice on management techniques, information on woodland management issues and legal considerations. A series of species factsheets provides summary information for all the species in the toolkit.
Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

Data behind the toolkit has been sourced from a wide number of sources which are detailed on the website. Examples include data from the Bat Conservation Trust, British Trust for Ornithology, Butterfly Conservation, Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, British Lichen Society, British Mycological Society, Fungus Conservation Trust, People’s Trust for Endangered Species, and the National Biodiversity Network.

Paul Orsi, Director of Operations for Sylva Foundations, said:

We were delighted to be asked to develop the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit by the partnership behind the project. At the heart of good woodland stewardship is a woodland management plan, backed by information about the wildlife it contains. This is why we have also enabled a shared login between the toolkit and our myForest platform which supports management planning.

Helen Booker, Acting SW England Conservation Manager (who leads the project for RSPB), said:

Much of our wildlife that relies on woodland is in decline. This new, innovative toolkit offers locally focussed guidance to woodland owners and managers to help them cater for the needs of this wildlife. We hope it will become the go-to tool for woodland wildlife advice.

The toolkit is being launched today at a special event hosted by the National Forest, during which presentations were delivered by senior staff from many of its supporters.

The Woodland Wildlife Toolkit has been supported and developed by: Bat Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Forestry Commission, Natural England, Plantlife, RSPB, Sylva Foundation and Woodland Trust.

Visit the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit: www.woodlandwildlifetoolkit.org.uk


Sylva launches premium account for myForest

January 14, 2019

A new premium account has been launched for Sylva’s flagship woodland management online software myForest. Users will have access to new tools, while income from regular subscriptions will help the charity invest further in the technology.

Since its launch in 2009, Sylva Foundation’s myForest web tool has been growing steadily, just like the woodlands it exists to support. The environmental charity has relied on word-of-mouth and a strong reputation for the increasing popularity of its online tools and resources supporting woodland management.

myForest is used by thousands of woodland owners, managers and educators, to map and manage more than 75,000ha of woodland across Britain. Its development has been supported in part by charitable trusts, government bodies, corporations, and individual donors. However, myForest requires regular funding to support maintenance and development, and the Sylva Foundation receives frequent requests for new features.

Behind the scenes, thanks to core support from The Dulverton Trust, the Sylva Foundation has been hard at work developing a range of additional premium-level tools which it now hopes some woodland owners and managers will opt to use. Paul Orsi from Sylva Foundation, who manages myForest, explained:

“We have introduced these additional tools in response to demands by users. We have kept the costs as low as possible, at only £24/year for a Woodland Owner account and £120/year for an Agent account. We hope that some owners, managers, and agents, will subscribe to a premium account. The income generated will support ongoing maintenance and allow us to invest further in the future of myForest.”

myForest feature table

myForest feature table

The most significant addition to the service, accessed via the new premium account, is access to digital mapping from the Ordnance Survey (note that additional costs apply dependent on usage). This is likely to be popular with those requiring maps for formal applications, or where existing aerial mapping imagery is poor.

myForest Woodland Manager showing OS background

myForest Woodland Manager showing OS background

With a myForest premium account you can now view data layers such as ancient woodland

With a myForest premium account you can now view data layers such as ancient woodland

A new measuring tool is just one of the new features we have added to myForest through a premium account

A new measuring tool is just one of the new features we have added to myForest through a premium account

Alongside OS mapping, various other options are on offer, including: advanced printing, overlaying of data layers such as ancient woodland boundaries, plus a range of reports such as summary reports for species and age-class distributions.

A myForest premium account allows you to download automatically generated reports for your woodland

A myForest premium account allows you to download automatically generated reports for your woodland

It is also possible to export a work programme to a spreadsheet so that it can be taken into the field or shared with others.

More features will be added to premium accounts over time and the charity will be developing a myForest mobile app by the end of the year.

www.myforest.org.uk


Support for collaborative woodland management

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.


New Forestry Commission England Management Plan template available on myForest

August 15, 2018

The updated Forestry Commission England Management Planning template is now available on myForest.  The update includes changes to the UK Forestry Standard criteria for approving a plan as well as additions to the Woodland Protection section.

FCE management plan template 2018

FCE management plan template 2018

Updates have also been made to the Plan of Operations including the requirement to specify the type of restocking following a felling operation.


FSC UK Small Woods Project launched

June 11, 2018

We wrote recently about how data collected from the British Woodlands Survey 2017 was informing development of the Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC) for small woodland owners. Today, FSC UK has launched the Small Woods Project. If you’re an owner of a small woodland you may be able to help.

What do stakeholders think of FSC?

In an article published today, Owen Davies from FSC UK wrote:

To date, FSC has not been as successful as we would like in encouraging small woodland owners to seek certification. Owners have told us that their reluctance is due to too much paperwork, complex standard requirements, and high costs. With this initiative we aim to make certification lighter on paperwork, simpler, and cheaper, while still maintaining the credibility that stakeholders expect from FSC, which we hope to achieve through a careful assessment of risks and opportunities for positive change.

Let’s be clear; we intend to be really radical, and to test the limits of the FSC system. We may not end up with a standard that can be used for FSC forest management certification in the UK. But what we learn along the way about just how far we can push risk-based approaches to certification of small woodlands will be of immense value not just in the UK but around the world.

To learn more, you can read a more technical introduction to the project. If you’re really keen and think you have what it takes to be part of the group developing the standard, you can read the full, formal terms of reference.

Read the full article