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All about the Forest

The National Forest road sign

Over twenty years ago, visionary leaders made the decision to create a new, large, forested area in England, to show all the many benefits that come from woodland near where people live and work. The area in the Midlands which came to be known as The National Forest was chosen in part because the woodland cover was very low (about 6%). There was also a great need for regeneration after the end of mining and, importantly, incredible public support for the idea.

Since then, the 200 square miles of The National Forest have been transformed through the planting of millions of trees (8m by October 2012) and the creation of many other valuable habitats. It boasts many new attractions and forest-based activities and has stimulated many woodland-linked businesses. Whilst more than 200,000 people live in the Forest, it is also within just 90 minutes' journey time for about 10 million people and is open to all, with an increasing network of trails and recreational opportunities.

Forest cover, which includes open spaces, water and other habitats, is nudging 20% in 2012. The National Forest depends on a wide range of partners including many landowners, who retain their land whilst planting all or some of it to form part of the Forest. The original idea, of blending new and maturing woodland within a wide variety of landscapes, has stood the test of time.

The exciting agenda now is to continue to plant the right woods in the right place, to make the most of what has been created and for more people to enjoy and love the Forest. Soon, many of the early woodlands will be ready for first thinnings. Foresters and woodland owners enjoy this challenging phase, as bold decision-making, sharp tools and action are needed to steer the woodland's development. The effect can be a dramatic step-change - when the wood begins to look less like lines of trees and more like what we imagine a wood to be. We want to make sure this happens and that the woods grow to healthy maturity.

With support from Central Government, (Defra), The National Forest is seen as a national exemplar of this kind of multipurpose forestry on a large, landscape, scale. It has an increasing profile nationally and internationally. The National Forest Company leads the creation of The National Forest and as well as delivering day-to-day its small team is committed to research and evidence on the progress of the Forest.


Nature Conservation

Bluebells amoungst the grass at an outwoods site

The development of The National Forest offers unprecedented opportunities to create and enhance a wide range of wildlife habitats.

Locking up our Carbon

Locking up our Carbon

Helping create The National Forest is one of the many steps you could take towards offsetting the effects of climate change.


13 Feb 2017

Charnwood Forest needs you!

Charnwood Forest, one of the most iconic parts of The National Forest, is the focus of a new landscape partnership bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. If successful, the bid will result in £3million worth of projects to restore and celebrate the area’s many wonders.

10 Feb 2017

Love is... Planting Trees

Everyone loves trees, and The National Forest offers the perfect Valentine’s Day gift this year: give a National Forest Plant a Tree package and you’ll be supporting a whole forest!

Find more articles: News



25 Feb 2017

Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre & Country Park

Market Bosworth, Warwickshire

Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre tells the dramatic story of the Battle of Bosworth on 22nd August 1485, which marked a major turning point in English history.

28 Feb 2017

Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre & Country Park

Market Bosworth, Warwickshire

Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre tells the dramatic story of the Battle of Bosworth on 22nd August 1485, which marked a major turning point in English history.

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17 Jan 2017

Help Shape the Future of Leicestershire's Volcano

Charnwood Forest Regional Park, one of the most iconic parts of The National Forest, is the focus of a new landscape partnership bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

10 Jan 2017

All's well that ends well...

As we all start the year planning our big - and smaller - adventures for 2017, enjoy this blog from a couple of the National Forest Way rangers. Maxine and Chris improvise their way through a field of cows: they know how it should be done, but we read how they actually manage, with hilarious results. Overall, a message about being wary enough but not letting it stop you having a good walk. Happy walking this year, everyone!

Find more: Blog