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More People Enjoy The National Forest

Monday, 27th July 2009

Over 23,200 individuals were involved with the Forest throughout the year, through Forest-related events commissioned by the National Forest Company (NFC), and over 41,000 children took part in environmental education sessions.

This exceeded the Company’s target for improving participation in the Forest.  All NFC targets are agreed by the Forest’s sponsor government department, Defra, and in the areas of forest quality, climate change, sustainable economic development and leadership all targets were achieved, ensuring the continuing positive impact of The National Forest on the area’s communities, visitors, landscape and wildlife.

In a challenging year with little availability of land, the NFC achieved a creditable 121ha of new Forest creation against a target of 150ha and secured 58ha of nature conservation sites, exceeding the target of 50ha.  Contributing to Forest creation were 11 sites covering over 50 hectares, delivered during this the first year of operation of the new Changing Landscapes grant scheme.  Woodland cover over the whole of the Forest’s 200 square miles has now reached 18%, three times the original figure of 6%, and well on the way to achieving the eventual target of around a third.

The headline achievements for the year include:

  • Recognition of The National Forest as one of the first three UK examples of the European Landscape Convention.
  • The re-establishment of the Woodland Owners’ Club, as a driver for good woodland management, including dealing with pests and diseases.
  • The completion of a comprehensive bird survey, applying national surveying methods.
  • The installation of further high quality visitor signage and furniture in the East and West Midlands. (The tourism economy was confirmed as being worth more than £260m a year).
  • The highly successful first National Forest Walking Festival was held, supported by the NFC.

A major review of the development of the Forest took place during the year, at the mid point in the 2004-2014 National Forest strategy.  Dinah Nichols, NFC Chair, said: ‘This has been a year in which affection for and pride in The National Forest was restated clearly and with passion by friends and partners.  Over 1,000 residents contributed to our consultation on the next five years and their deep appreciation of the quality of life provided by The National Forest is an immense encouragement to us all.’

The National Forest Company Annual Report 2008/9 is available to download on this website.