On my homepage I write that I aim to celebrate the ” silvan” world: here’s an etymology.

Silvanus God of forests
Silvanus God of forests: statue at the Museo Nazionale Romano

Silva or sylva is a Latin word meaning ‘wood or forest’, with silvan or sylvan meaning ‘of the wood or forest’.

In forestry we use the word silviculture, meaning literally culture of forests. Foresters are sometimes called silviculturists.

Silvanus was the Roman God of forests, and also fields and boundaries. A Roman farmer would regularly conduct a sacrifice and conduct a tour of the estate’s perimeter to protect it from natural and supernatural hazards by lustration, or ritual purification.

In the modern world it is the root, excuse the pun, for many tree and forestry organisations including my own Sylva Foundation.  I like to describe myself as a silvologist: someone who studies trees, woods and forests.

Gabriel Hemery


    1. Author

      Thanks … and there are the towns of Sylvan Lake in Alberta, and Sylva in North Carolina.

      1. I LIVE IN SYLVA, NORTH CAROLINA. And I came to this page looking for an answer to my Latin homework. And then I saw that comment. Crrrrazy

        1. Author

          Hi Mary
          You’re the first resident that I’ve corresponded with from Sylva! I’d like to visit one day.

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