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National Award for The National Forest Company

Wednesday, 12th March 2008

National Award for The National Forest Company

An inaugural award for best practice in sustainable development was presented to the National Forest Company and some of its key partners in London last week (March 6).

The SDUK Annual Award has been established by the magazine SDUK and its publisher Govnet, to recognise excellence among public bodies not just in providing services today but in preserving the environment and meeting social needs into the future. The presentation was made by Minister of State for Energy Malcolm Wicks during the prestigious SDUK national conference.

One of three finalists, the National Forest Company is responsible for the creation of The National Forest, which spans 200 square miles of the centre of England and where more than seven million trees have been planted. It has always been much more than trees, however, and the award was made in recognition of the transformation of the Ashby Woulds, the mining heart of The National Forest.

Dinah Nichols, Chair of The National Forest Company, said:
"The Ashby Woulds really has been sustainability in practice. We have not only changed the environment beyond recognition but the economy has benefited and the Forest has given people something to be proud of and to be involved in."

The award was received by Dinah Nichols and Keith Maybury, a former miner and now Chair of the Ashby Woulds Forum. Other principal partners of the Forest were represented by: Christine Fisher, Chief Executive of North West Leicestershire District Council; Mike Ballantyne from the Heart of the National Forest Foundation and Peter Williams of Leicestershire County Council.

Chief Executive of the National Forest Company, Sophie Churchill, said:
"Some fifteen years ago the councils and the communities of the area came together to work closely to achieve a vision that was incredibly ambitious. So often the press is full of stories of conflict and antagonisms, but this award shows that long term change needs the best working relationships, which are attainable. In some ways the story of The National Forest is only just beginning, and I hope we can continue the same quality of partnerships to move together into the future."

There have been more than 4,000 downloads from the National Forest Company's website of the booklet 'The National Forest – an exemplar of sustainable development', published by the company last year. Sophie Churchill added:

"It is very important to provide the facts and figures to back up any claim about how good you are! I am delighted that many people are reading the booklet."

"But I also encourage people to visit the heart of the Forest to see what we are doing for themselves. There is now a stunning, environmentally-friendly YHA hostel open at Moira, Conkers Discovery Centre is having a great spring and there are many walks around the area which give tranquil respite in our busy world."

The trophy, crafted out of driftwood and glass, is made entirely from recycled materials. Dinah Nichols said:

"This is a fitting tribute to the hard work of the team over many years and the contributions of some exceptional people. We are delighted to be national winners of this important award."