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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.


18 Mar 2015

New Woodland Takes Root in Wychnor

Montgomery Wood offers visitors fantastic views across the River Trent to Wychnor, with stunning views of St Leonard's parish church. This 2.3ha (5.7 acre) wood has been created by local businessman Chris Montgomery who runs a landscaping business based in Burton. Chris bought the land a few years ago and decided to create the woodland under the National Forest Changing Landscapes Scheme to provide wildlife habitat, access and wood for fuel.

17 Feb 2015

At home with history, for the launch of the 2015 National Forest & Beyond Visitor Guide

The National Forest & Beyond Visitor Guide for 2015 was launched at the National Trust's newly opened Arts and Crafts cottage, Stoneywell, earlier this week.

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28 Mar 2015

Calke Abbey House and Estate

Ticknall, Derbyshire

With peeling paintwork and overgrown courtyards Calke Abbey tells the story of the dramatic decline of the country house estate.  Explore this fascinating house, the beautiful walled garden and Calke Park and National Nature Reserve.

28 Mar 2015

National Memorial Arboretum

Alrewas, Staffordshire

The National Memorial Arboretum is the UK's year-round Centre of Remembrance; a spiritually uplifting place which honours the fallen, recognises service and sacrifice, and fosters pride in our country. The Arboretum is part of The Royal British Legion family of charities.

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09 Jan 2015

First reflections

John Everitt, newly in post as Chief Executive of the National Forest Company, shares his first thoughts on arriving at the Forest.

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