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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.


26 Jul 2016

New Woodland Management Award for Top Quality Work in The National Forest

The National Forest Company (NFC) has established a new Woodland Management Award to recognise examples of outstanding woodland management taking place within the 200 square miles of the Forest.

19 Jul 2016

Make your hedge stand out with a free hedgerow pack from the National Forest Company and the Woodland Trust

Free hedgerow trees are available to landowners within the 200 square miles of The National Forest, to help combat the threats from a variety of pests and diseases to valuable mature trees that feature in our landscape.

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30 Jul 2016

Field Sport UK

Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire

Award winning outdoor activity centre, based in the Midlands. Set in a beautiful woodland offering various shooting activities and countryside pursuits.

31 Jul 2016

Hicks Lodge: The National Forest Cycle Centre

Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire

Contact Hicks Lodge directly on 01530 274533. Hicks Lodge, which is owned by the Forestry Commission,is a fantastic day out forthe whole family - from budding cyclists to the more confident. Set in beautiful young woodland at the heart of The National Forest, it has been designed with the whole family in mind with a variety oftrails to explore.Brilliant fun!

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27 Jul 2016

Ramblings of a (would be) Volunteer Ranger - Part 1!

Carla Robinson, Administration Officer with the National Forest Company, talks about why she was drawn to be a ranger on the National Forest Way.

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.

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