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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.


16 Jul 2015

National Forest Company celebrates 20 years and hits 20 per cent forest cover

Ambassadors for The National Forest joined directors and staff to celebrate 20 years of the National Forest Company.

26 Jun 2015

Woodland flowers in Foxley Wood thanks to National Forest Company grant

The Woodland Trust has made improvements to Foxley Wood, one of its key woodlands in The National Forest, close to the village of Linton, in South Derbyshire. Trees have been thinned and undergrowth removed, and local users of the wood are already benefiting from the work which was carried out with assistance from the National Forest Company (NFC).

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05 Aug 2015

Elvaston Castle Country Park

Elvaston, Derbyshire

The former home of the Earls of Harrington.

06 Aug 2015

Sharpe's Pottery Museum & Coffee Shop

Swadlincote, Derbyshire

Explore this award winning pottery site, exhibiting internationally important pottery and sanitary ware, plus The National Forest story. Visit the Tourist Information Centre, café, gift shop, playzone and activities for all.

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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."

24 Apr 2015

Spring and other seasonal delights

One of our Admin Officers, Carla, has been holed up at home, having broken her wrist a while ago. She's been musing on the seasons through her sitting room window...

Find more: Blog