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Investment Helps Put Forest Destination on the Map

Tuesday, 29th April 2008

Investment Helps Put Forest Destination on the Map

Investment of more than £600,000 from East Midlands Tourism (EMT), emda's regional tourism arm, has helped put The National Forest on the map.

The National Forest Company (NFC) was awarded the funding as part of EMT's Public Realm Challenge Fund and all work has now been completed across 17 sites in The National Forest ready for a busy 2008 holiday season. Woodland shelters, iconic archways and touchscreen kiosks are just some of the new facilities that greet visitors at attractions, service areas and lay-bys across the Forest to help people make the most of their visit to this amazing place.

Sophie Churchill, Chief Executive of the NFC said: "The new facilities have been really positively received by visitors and have greatly improved the visitor experience.

"One of the beauties but also one of the challenges The National Forest faces is the fact that it spans a wide variety of landscapes including ancient forest and new woodlands, rolling farmland, wide river valleys and urban areas. These new visitor facilities help visitors gain a better understanding of the huge wealth of things to see and do here, hopefully encouraging them to stay longer and return more often."

Ruth Hyde, Tourism Director of East Midlands Tourism, said: "If we want to encourage people to stay longer in our region then we really need to ensure they are well informed about all there is to see and do. The initiatives The National Forest has introduced really embrace this idea and improve the visitor experience by ensuring people coming into this exciting area are well informed not only about what it has to offer, but also about the surrounding area so that they can get the most out of their visit."

With EMT's support, the National Forest Company worked with tourism businesses and Leicester-based award winning tourism designers, Haley Sharpe and Antomic Woodworking, to install the innovative information points for visitors.
Councillor Ernie White from Leicestershire County Council said: "Snibston and Beacon Hill are really proud to be a part of The National Forest and this project has helped to make this link more visible for our visitors. The signage and information unit have meant that people coming to Snibston are more aware of the Forest and can see what other interesting places there are to visit nearby which is great for the area. We're also thrilled with the seating units and picnic tables that the project has provided us with for our Country Parks - they are really beautiful and compliment the natural surroundings perfectly."
The 17 sites with the new facilities include attractions, service areas and lay-bys on key access routes through the Forest.

Motorists can enjoy great views across to the ancient Charnwood Forest and learn about the Forest while having a picnic at MOTO's Donington Park services on A42/M1 junction. Or drivers can enjoy a 'Welcome Break' at Leicester Forest East services on the M1, seated at 'forest-themed' tables. Both service areas stock leaflets on things to see and do across the Forest.

Conkers, at the Heart of the National Forest has more than 150 indoor and outdoor interactive exhibits and, with its new interpretation, seating and information refreshment stop, is a great place to discover the Forest. Twycross Zoo lies south of The National Forest boundary. Both the habitats created here for native wildlife and the information for visitors, encourage movement between the zoo and the Forest. And Ashby Tourist Information Centre now offers wider information on the Forest including a touchscreen kiosk.

Visitors can now read about the history of Staunton Harold at the Ferrers Centre for Arts and Crafts and explore the footpaths through new and existing woodland around this wonderful estate or witness the growing Forest through a short animated movie at Snibston Discovery Centre's new information stop.

Foremark, Staunton Harold and Thornton Reservoirs have new viewpoints to help visitors identify landmarks in the landscape as well as information boards and audio posts around the reservoirs.

Beacon Hill Country Park and YHA National Forest both have new picnic facilities and woodland shelters, which will become wildlife havens in themselves thanks to an imaginative design incorporating a 'living roof'. The design for the shelters not only includes innovative information points for visitors but also creates important undisturbed habitats for plants, birds and insects.

Sence Valley Forest Park's new woodland shelters and audio posts describe the abundant wildlife in the park. A colourful panel identifies and plays the various calls of the birds that regularly visit, including kingfishers, grey herons, great crested grebes and kestrels, plus the sand martins that travel from Africa to nest at the park every summer.

An iconic sculpture now forms the dramatic entrance to Rosliston Forestry Centre. Standing three metres high, it creates a tree shaped archway through a log pile frame into this busy visitor attraction. Rosliston Forestry Centre was one of the first woodlands to be planted as part of The National Forest. The logs used in the sculpture were sourced from the centre's own woodland as part of the essential thinning process.

Drivers travelling through the area on the A511 around Coalville or the A447 just south of Ibstock, can read about the Forest on information boards installed in two lay-bys.

And visitors staying overnight can leaf through the beautiful National Forest coffee table browsers that can be found in inspected accommodation venues in and around the Forest.

The paths that weave through Poppy Wood on the A514 offer great views over the Derbyshire countryside and reveal six individual woodland demonstration plots. Each contains a variety of tree species and planting methods, showing how different woodland types are managed.

Already more than seven million trees have been planted in The National Forest, creating new woodlands that need to be nurtured and managed in order to be sustainable into the future. Visitors can find out more about forestry - from the seed to the sawmill - at The National Forest Wood Fair on Bank Holiday Monday 25 August 2008.

The wood used in the Visitor Infrastructure Project was locally grown English Oak from the Staunton Harold and Calke Estates, processed in a local sawmill and transformed into the innovative information points by Antomic Woodworking.

Supported by East Midlands Tourism.