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Woodland Edge

First reflections

John Everitt the new National Forest Company Chief Executive

It is not often you get the chance to be part of something truly visionary.  I’m sure those far sighted Victorians who paved the way for our modern railways or the reformers who gave rise to the National Health Service felt that same mixture of excitement and trepidation that I feel in joining The National Forest team. 

I am lucky to be arriving at the National Forest Company at a time when the fruits of nearly 25 years’ hard work are being realised, the woodland is maturing and the Forest coming of age.  Those pioneers who planted saplings in the ground over 20 years ago had real vision to see beyond the scarred industrial landscape to what they were creating for the future.  Fortunately for us, we can all now enjoy the benefits of their hard labour as the Forest helps to stitch the landscape back together, heal the local economy and nurture our health and wellbeing.   

I am the third Chief Executive in the National Forest Company’s history, with my predecessors, Susan Bell and Sophie Churchill, both serving more or less a decade each.  This is not a vision for the faint-hearted or those interested in a quick fix, but one that needs dedication, hard work and staying power.  My first week in the role has shown that these qualities abound in the staff, partners, ambassadors and supporters, and that is why it has been so successful to date.  With my background in ecology, the charitable sector and running commercial companies, I hope to bring that same sense of purpose and renewed vigour to the next phase of the Forest’s development.

It is no longer a leap of faith to imagine a new Forest for the nation – it is happening before our eyes.  As each woodland begins to mature, the evidence is here, the benefits are real and the success stories are being told.  In the current climate I believe we need The National Forest more than ever, not only to regenerate this part of the Midlands but to use the lessons to help others around the country to cope with future challenges. I can’t promise that we will have such a profound effect on the nation as the railways or the NHS, but I feel certain we will look back in years to come and celebrate the remarkable foresight behind the vision for The National Forest. 

John Everitt

9 January 2015