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We are pleased to announce the publication of the British Woodlands Survey 2017 report.

We adopted a ‘360-degree’ research method for British Woodlands Survey 2017, whereby stakeholders were engaged in designing the survey, providing data, and reviewing outcomes. Forty-eight workshop delegates ranked priority themes provided by 221 respondents in an initial survey, for UK countries: England, Scotland and Wales. Overall, Societal attitudes ranked highest, followed by Climate change adaptation, and Pests and diseases. Within countries, additional top-ranking themes included: for England, Tree Planting and Timber Production; for Wales, Private woodland owner engagement; and for Scotland; Profitability and Natural capital.

The main survey, based on these themes, was conducted online during summer 2017. Responses were received from 1,630 people, distributed across the UK. The majority of respondents (660) were private woodland owners, who together with 180 forestry agents, controlled 3,629 woodland properties covering 645,370 hectares. The response represented 28% of all private sector woodland area in the UK (2.30Mha), and one-fifth of the total UK woodland area (3.17Mha).

Results

BWS2017 infographic - click to download

BWS2017 infographic

BWS2017 report - free download

BWS2017 report – click to download

Some headlines

  • Top motivation for woodland owners is protecting and improving nature.
  • Most owners think that society values woodland most for its wildlife.
  • Many in the sector want to engage more in developing policy but feel their voices are not heard.
  • There is enthusiasm for diversifying tree species to support biodiversity but concerns among some about impacts on timber yields.
  • Among a small subset of respondents (230) there would potentially be enough land made available over the next five years which would lead to a 1% increase in the UK’s woodland cover.

Download the report here

 


About the British Woodlands Survey

The British Woodlands Survey (BWS) gathers evidence about Britain’s woodlands and those who care for them. The BWS aims to provide an evidence base on which future policies and practice can be developed. BWS2017 is the first repeat survey in a five-year cycle of major surveys intended to explore broad themes (the first survey taking place in 2012). In the intervening years two national surveys explored specific themes. The BWS is co-ordinated by Sylva Foundation. Read more: www.sylva.org.uk/bws

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

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

Hemery, G., Petrokofsky, G., Ambrose-Oji, B., Edwards, D., O’Brien, L., Tansey, C., and Townsend, M. (2018). Shaping the future of forestry: Report of the British Woodlands Survey 2017. 34pp. www.sylva.org.uk/bws

Guest blog by Sylva Scholar, Louise Hill

We congratulate Louise Hill on successfully defending her DPhil at the University of Oxford. Louise is the third (and sadly final) Oxford-Sylva scholar. Over the last four years she has been researching the impacts of ash dieback. Here Louise describes in her own words what she has achieved, and what our support has meant to her personally.  Well done Louise!

It’s been a long road to get here, but four and a half years after starting I have finally finished my DPhil. As the Sylva Scholar, I have been extremely privileged to complete my project at the University of Oxford, with opportunities to meet top scientists, speak at international conferences, and produce the best research that I am capable of.

Louise Hill in Wytham Woods. Photo John Cairns

Louise Hill, Sylva scholar, in Wytham Woods. Photo John Cairns

My research project looked at various different aspects of the ash dieback outbreak in Britain. This disease is one of the most important contemporary challenges to the health of our woods and trees. An invasive fungal pathogen (Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus) [Ed. formerly known as Chalara fraxinea], it threatens the future of common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) as a dominant tree in Britain. The impacts of this loss will be widespread: over the coming decades we are likely to see significant impacts on the health of woodland and non-woodland ecosystems, on associated biodiversity, and on human health and wellbeing as the benefits of ash trees to society are lost.

My project was broad and investigated impacts in many of these areas.

  • I carried out experimental work to clarify the impacts of ash loss on woodland ground flora and invertebrate communities.
  • I modelled the distributions of trees and their associated traits and functions (with a paper published in Ecology and Evolution: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ece3.2661/full). This allowed me to investigate the areas and ecosystem types most vulnerable ash loss, and to develop management guidance to help mitigate this loss (paper in review).
  • In my final year, I investigated the economic impacts, an ambitious project which I am now developing further with collaborators at the Woodland Trust and Fera, and which we hope will produce a high-impact publication with political significance.
Hill et al Ecology&Evolution

Hill et al. (2007) Ecology&Evolution

It’s been a lot of hard work, but I have come away with something I feel really proud of: a project that I could make fully my own, that I believe has contributed to both the scientific understanding of the disease and to practical measures to reduce its harm.

None of this would have been possible without support and input from the Sylva Foundation: the scholarship gave me a fantastic opportunity, and I have tried my best to make the most of it. This experience culminated a couple of weeks ago in an invitation to attend a Plant Health and Biosecurity conference at Highgrove, contributing directly to ideas for future policy.

I hope in the future I can carry on working on research in tree diseases in the future, as this project has given me a real drive to continue in this important area.

Louise Hill

[Note from Ed: Louise Hill’s thesis will soon be available online. We will publish a link as soon as possible.]


More about the Sylva Scholarship

Sadly Louise is our third and final Oxford-Sylva Graduate Scholar, as we have been unsuccessful in fundraising sufficiently to appoint a new student.

Read more stories from our Sylva Scholars

Sylva Foundation CEO Gabriel Hemery reports on significant progress made in bringing the English forestry sector together to ensure that forestry practice, and our trees and forests, will adapt effectively to climate change.

UKFS and climate change adaptation

UKFS and climate change adaptation

The challenges we face in the light of climate change are familiar to us all, in every area of society. In relation to our trees and forests, and within the forestry sector, it is well-accepted that we need to take action to adapt to a changing climate. The UKFS (see box right) clearly articulates key measures we should be implementing, but how well are we meeting the challenge?

Willingness and Evidence

Two seminal moments during 2015 kick-started positive action relating to climate change adaptation in England. The first was the signing of the Climate Change Accord, ‘A call for resilient forests, woods and trees’, by more than 30 organisations. It 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.”

British Woodlands Survey 2015 report

British Woodlands Survey 2015 report

The second moment was the response by 1,500 stakeholders to a national survey concerning ‘awareness, action and aspiration among Britain’s forestry community relating to climate change’. Responses to the 2015 British Woodlands Survey indicated that the resilience of the UK’s forests is currently poor, although there are a number of positive aspects which could be built upon. The report concluded that collaboration across the sector was required, with responsibilities shared between the many interests. It also identified that risks need to be more clearly communicated to stakeholders, together with firmer, tailored, guidance on addressing these risks.

Together these two moments secured both the willingness to collaborate strategically, and the evidence necessary to measure progress towards meeting the adaptation measures in the UKFS. The next step was to build on these by agreeing what actions needed to be taken.

Taking action

A small group of interested parties came together under the auspices of the ‘Forestry and Climate Change Working Group’ (FCCWG). During 2016 the FCCWG started working towards an Action Plan for the forestry sector. It has been following a simple five-step approach:

  1. What should we be doing to support adaptation to climate change?    UKFS Adaptation Factors
  2. How do our actions measure up?    British Woodlands Survey 2015
  3. What is being done currently?    Organisations submit evidence to FCCWG during 2016/17
  4. What could we do better (or less of)?
  5. Priorities: what we need to do, by whom, by when?

 

Steps 1-3 formed the basis of a Draft Action Plan (see Read More), yet to address the important steps of what we should improve, and our priorities for taking action, it was necessary to convene a stakeholder workshop. At a meeting held on 11th October 2017—hosted by Forest Research at Alice Holt Lodge—senior representatives from 24 organisations (see box) gathered to devise strategies to tackle steps 4 and 5.

With thanks to delegates representing:

BIFOR, Confor, Deer Initiative, Egger, Euroforest, Forest of Marston Vale, Forest Research, Forestry Commission England, Forest Enterprise England, Future Trees Trust, Grown in Britain, Institute of Chartered Foresters, Lockhart Garratt, Martin Glynn, National Forest, National Trust, Natural England, Royal Forestry Society, Small Woods, Sylva Foundation, Tubex, Tilhill Forestry, Woodland Heritage, Woodland Trust.

After an opening address by Forestry Commission Chairman Sir Harry Studholme, an introduction to the FCCWG by its Chairman Simon Lloyd (Chief Executive, Royal Forestry Society), and an overview of the changes ahead from James Morison (Climate Change Science Group Leader, Forest Research), delegates were soon hard at work. Gabriel Hemery and Gill Petrokofsky, both from Sylva Foundation, managed the café-style brainstorming. Small groups tackled each of the 18 UKFS factors in turn, identifying priorities for action over the next five years.

Preparing for the next brainstorm session. Photo Gail Atkinson.

Preparing for the next brainstorm session. Photo Gail Atkinson.

 

Next steps

Over the next few months the FCCWG will be reviewing the outcomes of the October workshop. We aim to publish, in early 2018, an Action Plan for Forestry and Climate Change Adaptation. We intend this to be a rolling five-year plan, which will be reviewed annually to assess how well the sector is progress in meeting the agreed actions. Given the degree of commitment shown by organisations to date, we are confident that the actions will be widely adopted and responsibilities shared among stakeholders.

The FCCWG is keen to hear from those who may be interested in being actively involved in its work. In particular, we are aware that the interests of tree nurseries, timber processors, and urban forestry are under-represented.

Ultimately, we are hopeful that the unprecedented collaboration across the sector, together with the sound evidence behind its collective action, will help ensure that the Action Plan is embraced by forestry policy-makers, will influence the commissioning of relevant research, and will empower practitioners to take action.

Read more:

Dr Gabriel Hemery FICFor is Chief Executive of Sylva Foundation, and a member of the Forestry and Climate Change Working Group.

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.

British Woodlands Survey 2017

We’ve been delighted with the response over the summer months to the 2017 British Woodlands Survey. So far more than 1,600 woodland owners, agents, foresters, forest school practitioners, and forestry and wood businesses have taken part in the national web-based survey.

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. This year we have unprecedented interest from policy makers, national organisations, research commissioners and others. Make sure your voice counts!

It’s not too late to take part. The survey closes to responses on Sunday 1st October at 23:59.

Please read more and take the survey: www.sylva.org.uk/bws2017

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and in Scotland SC041892

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