Project information

Oxford-Sylva Graduate Scholarship

The Oxford-Sylva Graduate Scholarship fund supports research studentships at the University of Oxford Department of Plant Sciences. The theme of the scholarship is productive and healthy trees.

25 years (+)

Charity information

Sylva Foundation

Sylva Foundation logo
  • Need


    Changes in the frequency and occurrence of pests and pathogens are seen as significant potential threats to our tree resource. Increased stress on tree health is anticipated with environmental change, further increasing tree susceptibility to pests and pathogens. Impacts in the forest ecosystem as a result of changes to management practise and environmental variability are also poorly understood.


    Oxford-Sylva Graduate Scholarship: the theme of the scholarship is healthy trees and productive forests. This reflects a joint vision between the Sylva Foundation and the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, to foster a robust tree and forest resource in the light of projected environmental change.

    Maintaining a healthy and functioning tree resource is critically important to support sustainable development.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Attract applicants of the highest calibre to initiate their careers in the environmental sector


    » Select outstanding students through the usual application route within the University's Graduate Admissions Programme.
    » Attract project funding for each student on a rolling basis, c. £60,000 for each three year studentship

    Success: our first Oxford-Sylva Scholar completed Autumn 2014. The University manages the application process for each new student, and the scholarship awarded following discussion

    Aim 2

    Undertaking cutting edge science to support productive & healthy forests


    » Research projects supported by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford

    Each research project is overseen by the University, and assessed with the highest academic rigour. Sylva supports technology transfer.

    Aim 3

    Raise additional funds to secure a funds sufficient to endow the scholarship in perpetuity


    » Raise a total of £500,000 (including Gift Aid). It is possible that under current arrangements the University may match this at 40%

    An endowed scholarship is secured within the University of Oxford

  • Impact


    Oxford-Sylva Scholars will make a significant contribution to the health and productivity of woodlands in the UK and beyond. These people will also be given a significant promotion towards making a lasting contribution to sustainability through their careers.
    Success will be measured by research outputs, student numbers, and specific target outcomes.


    Lack of suitable calibre applicants - Univ Oxford attracts a large number of research students of the highest calibre.
    Funding - the first scholar is fully funded in the partnership between Sylva Foundation and the Department of Plant Sciences. Future Scholars will not be appointed unless sufficient funding is in place.
    Research costs for each project must be sourced - demonstrably relevant and quality projects should be attractive to funders.


    Regular reports based on termly student progress. Annual reports. Other research and communication outputs. Copies of published reports. Invitations to events and activities.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £560,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £60,000 Donation (1 student) plus gift aid. 3 year cost per student without endowment in place
      £500,000 Endowment plus gift aid. Matched by University.
  • Background


    All research students will be placed at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, UK.


    Whole society and environmental benefits in the UK, mainland Europe and beyond. With current concerns regarding the future health of trees in Britain, such as the outbreak of Chalara fraxinea ash dieback in 2012, in combination with the impacts of projected climate change, our trees and forests are under considerable threat. Research and evidence will shape our responses to these threats.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The Sylva Foundation has science at its core, both in senior staff and at trustee level. Through the collaboration with the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, we have created a partnership with an academic institution of unsurpassed reputation. Sylva is also well-connected with landowners and industry and so is able to connect academic excellence with practical delivery.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr Gabriel Hemery FICFor, CEO Sylva

    Dr Hemery is a passionate forestry advocate, forestry scientist, and published author. He acts as External Supervisor for Sylva Scholars.

    Sherardian Professor Of Botany, Head Of Department

    Head of the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford.

Our first Scholar investigating forest ecosystems

Our first Scholar investigating forest ecosystems


One scholar (3 year DPhil research programme)

receiving the Sylva Scholarship has enabled me to undertake important research for woodlands, while at the same time launching my career in science

Kirsty Monk