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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.


05 Dec 2016

First National Forest Woodlands Awards presented at an awards ceremony at Staunton Harold

The inaugural National Forest Woodland Awards were presented by Sir William Worsley, Chair of the National Forest Company, at an event held at Staunton Harold Hall, near Ashby de la Zouch.

01 Nov 2016

The Silver Circuit: National Forest Company launches new walk to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The National Forest

As part of The National Forest’s 25th anniversary celebrations, the National Forest Company has launched a new walk through some of the most picturesque parts of the Forest on the Derbyshire Staffordshire border.

Find more articles: News



10 Dec 2016

National Forest Adventure Farm

Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire

A day of adventure awaits, whatever the weather. You can meet and feed the animals, explore the outdoor Funfield and have fun in the huge indoor play area.

17 Dec 2016

Mercia Marina

Willington, Derbyshire

A multi-awarded conservation park and visitor attraction in Derbyshire. Easily accessible and free entry and parking offering quality shops, eateries, walks and wildlife against the backdrop of 25 acre lake.

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01 Dec 2016

Ramblings of a (would be) Volunteer Ranger - Part 5!

Carla posts her final blog and reflects on the role so far.

30 Nov 2016

Ramblings of a (would be) Volunteer Ranger, Part 4!

NFC employee, Carla Robinson, continues her volunteering on the National Forest Way.

Find more: Blog