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More Funds for Forest Enjoyment: A Successful Year for The National Forest Company

Wednesday, 3rd September 2008

More Funds for Forest Enjoyment: A Successful Year for The National Forest Company

In a challenging year for planting new woodlands, the National Forest Company (NFC) attracted more funds than ever before to enable people to enjoy and experience the Forest, according to the Company’s latest Annual Report for the year to March 2008.

“Adversity stimulated inventiveness and innovation,” said Dinah Nichols, NFC Chair. “And through our funding of a wide range of partnership projects the Company levered in over £1.2 million from external public and private sources – the highest ever.” 

Ms Nichols continued: “Securing such substantial additional funds is significant recognition by our many partners of their commitment to the Forest, for which we are enormously grateful.”

Visitors to the Forest and local residents alike will benefit from this major investment.  The year saw the completion of the first phase of the Visitor Infrastructure Project which attracted £600,000 of funding from emda. This has seen the installation of Forest-branded site furniture at 20 sites and attractions throughout the East Midlands part of the Forest, including signage, picnic benches, viewing points, shelters with living roofs, and audio posts for distinguishing bird calls. The distinctive green oak structures, with the Forest logo, help to establish a sense of place throughout the Forest’s diverse landscapes, and visitors are encouraged to visit more than one attraction when they are here, thus adding to the economy of the area.  Funds have been secured from Advantage West Midlands to extend the Visitor Infrastructure Project into the Staffordshire part of the Forest. 

The goal of a long-distance footpath through the Forest has been made more achievable by the extra funding, and work has started on the Conkers Circuit, a multi-purpose trail at the Heart of the National Forest. NFC grants towards community festivals, exhibitions and educational events enabled 21,000 people to participate in Forest-related events, and 38,000 children to enjoy environmental educational visits – both vastly exceeding targets for the year of 13,000 and 33,000 respectively.

At the end of the year the Company was successful in securing European Commission approval for the successor to the Tender Scheme, which had been the NFC’s main grant programme for forest creation.  The Tender Scheme closed in early 2007/08 and in the absence of a major grant scheme the Company used smaller scale planting schemes and land acquisitions to add 119 ha of new planting to the Forest.

In March 2008 the Company received the inaugural Sustainable Development UK Award in recognition of the transformation of Ashby Wolds at the Heart of the Forest, as documented in the NFC publication ‘The National Forest – an exemplar of Sustainable Development’. Receiving the award was a source of “great pride”, said Dinah Nichols. “The National Forest’s guiding principle has always been the creation of a multi-purpose forest, stimulating economic and social benefits as an integral part of major landscape improvement.”

For more information view the Annual Report or to request a copy telephone 01283 551211, or contact us.

Contact information

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Carol Rowntree Jones

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Media Relations Officer

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01283 551 211

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or use the contact us form.