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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.


11 May 2016

Can the Ash Tree Survive Ash Die Back? A Living Ash Trial Created in The National Forest

A trial to look for potential tolerance to ash dieback in different varieties of ash has been created by Forest Research, the research agency of the Forestry Commission, on land owned by the National Forest Company (NFC) in The National Forest near Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire.

04 May 2016

The National Forest Company Secures Charitable Status and Announces a New Partnership with Forest Holidays

The National Forest Company (NFC), the body charged by government to lead the creation of The National Forest, has formally received charitable status and today announces the signing of a new partnership with Forest Holidays.

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31 May 2016

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.

04 Jun 2016

Calke Abbey (National Trust)

Ticknall, Derbyshire

Calke Abbey tells the story of the dramatic decline of a country house estate where little has been restored. Enjoy the wider estate of Calke Park and National Nature Reserve.

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04 Apr 2016

25th anniversary blog: #1

I had the good fortune to sit down with Susan Bell OBE recently and talk about the early days of The National Forest, for the first of a series of films we will be making to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The National Forest.

29 May 2015

Green business is good business

New CEO at the National Forest Company, John Everitt discusses how The National Forest pioneered the use of the environment at a landscape scale to lead social and economic regeneration, and now is the time to take the business community on a similar journey. "We can demonstrate that the Forest can also be an exemplary business development project, investing in our natural capital while improving the local economy."

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