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Advantage West Midlands Invests in Destination Forest

Tuesday, 26th August 2008

Visitors to The National Forest will soon be able to get more from their trip to the Forest thanks to a grant of £250,000, towards a £350,000 project, from Advantage West Midlands (AWM) - the Regional Development Agency for the West Midlands.  The National Forest Company has been awarded the funding, to put the Forest destination on the map and ensure visitors make the most of the huge number of things to see and do in the area.

Across the 200 square mile Forest, there is an exciting choice of attractions, woodlands, activities and events taking place throughout the year - but how do people find out just how much there is here, and make the connections between one part of the Forest and another?

Thanks to AWM’s support, the National Forest Company is able to team up with tourism businesses across the Staffordshire part of the Forest and install innovative information points for visitors.  These will place the attraction or venue firmly in the Forest and highlight other attractions available to visitors.

Sophie Churchill, Chief Executive of the NFC said: “We are delighted that AWM is supporting this project to help us show visitors the absolute wealth of things to do and see across the whole of the Forest and entice them to explore more while they are here.  Reinforcing the destination will help towards the greater economic wealth of the area and put The National Forest destination on the map.”

Roger Allonby, Head of Tourism from AWM said: “Advantage West Midlands is very pleased to be able to support this project.  The National Forest is a growing visitor destination and brand which provides a gateway to our excellent visitor offer across the Heart of England the West Midlands region.”

The National Forest Maize Maze, Barton Marina, Jacksons Bank on the Duchy of Lancaster Estate, Byrkley Garden Centre and the National Memorial Arboretum are among the sites that will have the new facilities across the Staffordshire side of The National Forest. The National Forest spans parts of three counties - Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire. 

The project follows the success of the Visitor Infrastructure Project across the East Midlands side of The National Forest, where new facilities were installed at twenty venues including attractions such as Conkers Discovery Centre and Snibston, woodland sites such as Sence Valley Forest Park, Poppy Wood and Beacon Hill Country Park, as well as Donington and Leicester Forest East Service Areas on the M1, and the Tourist Information Centres at Ashby de la Zouch and Swadlincote.

One of the beauties but also one of the challenges for The National Forest is that it spans a wide variety of landscapes including ancient Forest and new woodlands, wide river valleys and urban areas, rolling farmland and craggy outcrops with stunning views.  This project gives visitors a sense of place to the whole destination, helping to promote the wider area and link attractions within the Forest.

The new information points take the form of shelters, panels and touchscreen kiosks, as well as benches, tables and leaflet units.

The work is due to be completed by March 2009.  In the meantime, visitors can find more information on the huge choice of things to do and see in the Forest or places to stay for a brilliant weekend break by visiting the website www.nationalforest.org

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Media contacts: For further information contact Carol Rowntree Jones, Media Relations Officer, or Penny Wilkinson, Tourism & Promotions Officer, at the National Forest Company, on 01283 551211. For background information please visit www.nationalforest.org   

Digital images available, contact: media@nationalforest.org

 NOTES TO EDITORS:

 1.       The National Forest area covers 200 square miles of the counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.  Its objective is to increase woodland cover within its boundaries from an initial six per cent to about a third. No multi-purpose forest on this scale has been created in the UK for one thousand years. To date the proportion of woodland cover in the Forest has already nearly trebled to almost 18 per cent and over 7 million trees have been planted. 

 2.       Year by year, The National Forest has been steadily turning what was once one of the least wooded areas of England into a multi-purpose, sustainable forest.  The National Forest provides environmental, social and economic benefits, including landscape enhancement, creation of new wildlife habitats and major new access and leisure opportunities. It is an excellent example of sustainable development – with environmental improvement providing a stimulus both to economic regeneration and to community pride and activity.

 3.       To achieve these objectives, the National Forest Company leads the creation of The National Forest, working in partnership with landowners, local authorities, private business, voluntary organisations and local communities and has strong support from Government, politicians and the public.  The Company, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2005, receives grant in aid from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.