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Sylva Blog

The oneoak blog is part of the SYLVA Foundation blog which contains news about the organisation and all our initiatives.

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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 [1] , 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.

Explore the new tree health resources

Education resources on myForest for Education

Education resources on myForest for Education

 

Download the leaf insect herbivore ID guide

Leaf insect herbivore identification guide

Leaf insect herbivore identification guide

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.


[1] 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

Her Royal Highness, the Countess of Wessex, formally opened our uniquely reconstructed Anglo-Saxon building during a visit yesterday. Named the ‘House of Wessex’, the replica seventh century building has been painstakingly built over a period of two years with the help of experts and hundreds of volunteer days.

In 2016, during preparations underway before planting a new community woodland, environmental charity the Sylva Foundation worked with archaeologists to reveal the remains of an important Anglo-Saxon building on its land in south Oxfordshire. The building’s age, dimensions, and location all pointed to its importance for the Wessex Kingdom, perhaps even a royal residence. Archaeologists believe it will have formed part of a settlement associated with a leading family of the West Saxons in the seventh century. Thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the charity was able to gather together experts and volunteers to design and then faithfully reconstruct the building using tools and techniques from the period.

After months of planning, and the donation of more than 80 trees from the Blenheim Estate, the raising of the timber frame took place this summer. The house was built on the same site, but just one metre removed to preserve any remaining archaeology. The timber frame was constructed by Carpenter’s Fellowship volunteers using simple hand tools, and took more than 500 labour days to complete. By the autumn, the thatching of the roof had been completed and the walls constructed with wattle. With the help of families, the walls were plastered with daub comprising clay, straw and cow dung.

During the reconstruction, the charity held a number of public open days with a living history society, the Wulfheodenas, who impressed visitors with their cooking, weapon making, and weaving skills. With local history groups the charity has also created a heritage trail linking the site of the reconstruction to nearby historic features.

The legacy for the project is the House of Wessex itself which will function as an educational facility. The Wulfheodenas will play an active role in continuing to develop the house and will support the charity in delivering educational activities with the public.

Inviting the Countess of Wessex to unveil an interpretation panel next to the building to mark its opening, Dr Gabriel Hemery, Chief Executive of the Sylva Foundation, said:

“On behalf of the Sylva Foundation, and all our incredible supporters, I am delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness, the Countess of Wessex, to formally open the House of Wessex. This reconstruction celebrates the birth of the kingdom of Wessex thirteen hundred years ago on this very spot. Not only is the Countess of Wessex able to lend her title to the occasion, but knowing of her interest in the countryside, it’s been a privilege to introduce her to the charity’s work today.”

For recent press coverage, and for some fabulous images, see:

Visit our webpage for the House of Wessex

 

Fieldwork in the Forest, our new forestry fieldwork resources for secondary school geography teachers and pupils launches today.

Fieldwork in the Forest

Fieldwork in the Forest

The resources are the culmination of four years of consultation with geography teachers and effective partnerships, working across England’s education and forestry sectors. The Sylva Foundation, with support from Patsy Wood Trust and Forestry Commission, has produced a new set of free teaching resources and an accompanying film designed for secondary school geography teachers and their pupils. The resources and film encourage and enable educators to use nearby wooded areas and forests with their classes.

Visit the Fieldwork in the Forest webpage

The aims of Fieldwork in the Forest are two-fold:

  1. to support secondary schools to do more fieldwork in England’s woodlands and forests, and;
  2. to increase teaching, learning and understanding of British forestry amongst secondary school-aged people in England.
Fieldwork in the Forest free downloads

Fieldwork in the Forest free downloads. Click on image to view resources

Steve Fowkes, Advisor for Business and Markets, Forestry Commission said:

“The Forestry Skills Forum has been aware for a while that there is a significant gap in understanding and awareness of British forestry and woodland management at secondary school level. This is one of the factors leading to poor uptake of forestry careers in England, and it’s great to see the Sylva Foundation, one of the key partners of the Forum, taking action through the Forestry Skills Action Plan to address this. The Fieldwork in the Forest project goes a long way in bridging this gap and inspiring the next generation of foresters.”

Jen Hurst, Sylva Foundation’s Head of Education commented.

“Fieldwork in the Forest is an excellent example of partnership working and collaboration; a strength in all Sylva’s work. Thanks go to the enthusiasm of more than 80 trainee geography PGCE students from the Department of Education, University of Oxford and their tutors who have been willing to try out fieldwork ideas and evaluate them with us over the past four years. Blenheim Estate team and Combe Mill Society have supported the project from the start providing access to a nearby woodland and excellent facilities. Thanks also go to the experts in the Evenlode Catchment Partnership who have provided high-quality input during annual fieldwork training days. We hope geographers will enjoy using these resources as much as we have developing them!”

The fieldwork methodologies and advice sheets can be used in any wooded area or forest to fulfil parts of the geography curriculum fieldwork requirements at GCSE and A-Level in England. These teaching resources may also inspire A-Level pupils to consider forestry related fieldwork for their independent investigations.

Explore the Fieldwork in the Forest resources

 

On Sunday 20th October, Sylva Foundation will be celebrating the completion of the reconstruction of the Anglo-Saxon ‘House of Wessex’ at the Sylva Wood Centre by holding a public open day.

Wulfheodenas at the House of Wessex, July 2019

Wulfheodenas at the House of Wessex, July 2019

Come along to marvel at the amazing hand-crafted building whose timber frame used 80 trees donated by Blenheim estates before being shaped by dozens of volunteers earlier in the summer. During August, families came to help complete the wattle and daub walls, before work could start on the thatched roof.

Living History Society the Wulfheodenas will be moving into the house, and able to talk with visitors about their plans to turn the empty house into a living breathing reconstruction of Anglo-Saxon society. Also on display will be metal work, weaving, and perhaps a little cooking on the open fire.

Open 10am-3pm, Sunday 20th October.
Free entry.

Read more about the project: www.sylva.org.uk/wessex

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

 

Master thatcher Alan Jones Pembrokeshire Thatch and Carpentry Services is making good progress completing the roof of the House of Wessex, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

We’ve made a short time-lapse film which shows Alan working on the complex rise in the thatch over the main door way. The film is made up of hundreds of images taken at one-minute intervals over the space of one day.

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SYLVA

Charity registered in
England and Wales 1128516
and in Scotland SC041892

Company limited by guarantee 06589157

Copyright © 2009-20 Sylva Foundation. All rights reserved.

 
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