our origins

Sylva is an old English word from the latin silva, meaning a wood, forest, or woodland.

During the reign of Charles II in 1662, John Evelyn was asked by the Royal Society to draw attention to the damage done to England’s wooded estates during the English Interregnum and to encourage reforestation. The resulting paper was entitled: Sylva or a discourse on forest trees and the propagation of timber in His Majesty’s dominions. This led to the publication of his famous book with the same title in 1664, which ran to four editions during his lifetime, and many more afterwards.

In 2006, Sir Martin Wood and Dr Gabriel Hemery founded a project seeking to review the status of Forestry in the UK: Forestry Horizons. The project was founded on the simple beliefs that trees are important, that we should look after them better, and have more of them.

From that work, the idea for a new charity dedicated to reviving Britain’s wood culture was born, which we defined as “the stewardship of woodland and the use of forest produce for a sustainable future.” The Sylva Foundation was founded in March 2009.

In our fifth year the charity sponsored a contemporary version of John Evelyn’s work. Published by Bloomsbury in 2014 The New Sylva is a sumptuous celebration of our trees and forests. Proceeds from sales of the book go towards our charitable work. Visit our online shop.

read more about wood culture

Sylva by John Evelyn
The New Sylva