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myForest - digital forest management planning


Paul Orsi Photo 500X564 2020

Paul Orsi, Director of Operations at the Sylva Foundation, will be leading two one-day RFS courses during 2020 on Digital Forest Management Planning using myForest.

The first, on 27 March in Kendal, Cumbria, is in partnership with Cumbria Woodlands and the second on 25 September in Midhurst, West Sussex, is in partnership with the South Downs National Park Authority. Details and booking here.

 97% of those who took the RFS myForest one day course with Paul Orsi last year would recommend the course to others!


 By Paul Orsi

The majority (72%) of woodlands in Britain are in private hands and many of these are thought to be under- or un-managed, leading to a loss of both economic and environmental benefits. myForest was developed by the Sylva Foundation as an online platform and is now used by over 6,000 woodland owners, managers and educators to support sustainable forest management covering an area of almost 100,000ha. The Lite version of myForest is provided free of charge with the Premium version providing extra functionality.

There are five tools in the myForest suite:

  • Woodland Manager
  • Deer Manager
  • myForest for Education.
  • Business Directory
  • Woodland Star Rating
Paul Ors Myforest Tool High Res 2020

Users of myForest include owners of small woodland, managing agents, community woodland groups, woodland coops and environmental NGO’s.This blog focuses on the Woodland Manager, the main tool on the site, and the one that has had the most uptake.

The Woodland Manager provides you with the tools needed to:

  • create a map
  • store information
  • create a management plan for your woodland

Woodland owners can create single property accounts and woodland managers and agents can create ‘Agent’ accounts allowing them to have multiple clients or woodlands under the same account. These accounts are private and the information you add to them cannot be viewed by other people using myForest.

When you have created your account, you can start using the Woodland Manager to map your woodland.  This is done by building up your woodland area in small blocks known as compartments and sub-compartments. Each block or sub-compartment will vary slightly from the other and will help you to manage your woodland. You can also map other features in or around your woodland, such as access points, woodland rides, rivers, ponds etc. In using myForest you have access to multiple map backgrounds including Google Maps, Google Satellite and OpenStreetMap Outdoors. If you subscribe to a Premium account you will also have access to Ordnance Survey map backgrounds.

Paul Orsi Sub Compartment Map 2020

 At any stage, whether when you have finished mapping or as you work your way through your woodland, you can add information about your woodland into myForest. This can include an inventory of the trees in your woodland, any special habitats or designations, felling permissions required, a work programme, notes and photos. It is not mandatory to fill out any of these sections as the system is designed to be used in a way that is most useful to each user. 

When you are ready to do so you can use the information that you have input (mapping and data) to help you create a management plan for your woodland. The management plan template used by myForest is the one that is provided by the Forestry Commission (myForest also provides the Scottish Forestry Management Plan template) thereby making it easier to gain management plan approval.  You can also use the information you have input into myForest to create a Plan of Operations. This document is your application to gain 10 years of felling permissions.

Within the Woodland Manager you also can create maps that you can download, share and print. Maps are an important visual part of any woodland management plan and having the ability to create good maps is often a stumbling block for many woodland owners. You can create maps using the sub-compartments and features that you have drawn for your woodland. These maps can be used to support your management plan and can be used to provide you with Felling Licences (when associated with the correct additional information).

Maps that are useful to associate with your management plan are:

  • Location maps
  • Compartment maps
  • Operations maps
  • Constraints maps
Paul Orsi Printable Map Screen Shot 2020

 The online Help system provides hints and tips that pop-up as you use the system, while a series of video tutorials provide more in-depth help and step-by-step guidance.

If you have any queries about myForest or would like to know more about signing up for a Premium account please contact