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What is The National Forest?

New woodland growing at Prestop, Ashby-de-la-Zouch

The National Forest is a forest in the making...

  • It is an inspiring example for the country, in the face of climate change and other environmental pressures
  • It is a place of enjoyment and learning for its residents and visitors
  • It is a place of contrasts, where people find quiet relaxation and active leisure
  • It is a working forest providing new and sustainable livelihoods.

The National Forest enriches the lives of its people and the landscape and wildlife of this part of England.

The idea of a new multi-purpose forest for the nation was first mooted in the Countryside Commission's 1987 policy document 'Forestry in the Countryside'. The aim would be to demonstrate in lowland Britain that a largescale, attractive Forest could be created, blending commercial forestry with ecological, landscape and public benefit. Economic regeneration would come from the restoration of mining sites but in the long term many other benefits would also be achieved. The future of agriculture would be supported through opportunities for rural diversification.

From one of the country’s least wooded regions, the ambitious goal for The National Forest is to increase woodland cover to about a third of all the land within its boundary.

This is now well under way with woodland cover having increased from around 6% in 1991 to 19.5% in 2013. This has made large swathes of countryside more accessible for local people and visitors with 86% of woodlands accessible, to be explored and enjoyed. Increasing numbers of people are relishing this new public access in ever-changing surroundings and finding a host of attractions and activities to enjoy - all to the benefit of the local economy.

The UK is leading the world in creating this working example of sustainable development by fulfilling environmental, social and economic objectives for present and future generations.