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New Survey Shows Strength of Local Support for The National Forest

Wednesday, 11th June 2014

'If I said to my grandson you’ve got to clear some bracken tomorrow, he’d have his wellies out ready at dawn.' Ibstock Business Centre user

Following a positive report on the economic impact of The National Forest, and shortly before the launch of the next ten-year strategy to take forward The National Forest, a new survey shows the strength of local support for the forest.

Local people and visitors were asked in an independent research study how they view The National Forest: its creation, how it is changing the landscape they see about them and how it affects individuals and communities. The study built on original research into Community Perceptions of The National Forest conducted in 2008.

All the respondents commented that they could see the difference in the landscape and that these changes were for the better. One added: 'To see that vision [of The National Forest] take shape over the last ten years or so has been a real privilege.'

85% of people surveyed said the woodland sites were good or very good for quality and safety, and many reasons were given for the benefits of the woods, including places to walk and visit, plenty of things for children to do, and the increase in habitats for wildlife.

Local residents spoke about not needing to go elsewhere for a family day out, now they have all the trees, country parks and activities on their doorstep. Many people were enjoying cycling through the Forest, made easier by the new trails and off-road facilities such as Hicks Lodge National Forest Cycle Centre.

Looking to the future, respondents mentioned concerns about losing trees and views of the forest to new development; achieving a good balance between different land uses (farming, housing, trees and more open wildlife habitats); the need for investment in community and woodland infrastructure; and transport links not keeping up with new developments and the influx of more people.

50% of people said they were interested in being involved in the care of the Forest, and particularly in helping more people make use of this great resource for the area.

'It is timely to have evidence of this support for the ongoing creation and development of The National Forest,' said Sophie Churchill, Chief Executive, National Forest Company. She continued: 'We are about to embark on a new ten-year strategy for the Forest and we will address this with even greater confidence having these overwhelmingly positive voices from our local communities and visitors. We are very grateful for the time of those who took part.'

The National Forest Community Perceptions 2014 Update can be viewed online and downloaded at http://www.nationalforest.org/document/research/