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Planting Options

Swadlincote Woodlands

To create a National Forest setting for developments, the main emphasis will be upon woodland planting. However, open space and other landscaping with trees may also be included.

Planting schemes should favour broadleaved trees of mixed UK provinces (the NFC can provide details of suppliers). Whilst the majority of cases will expect to involve woodland planting, in some areas other types of habitat can be provided instead - such as the creation of heathland in Charnwood or wetland habitats in the Trent Valley. Habitat creation should be designed to contribute towards National Forest Biodiversity Action Plan (2011) targets.

The options for National Forest planting are set out below. They highlight the wide range of opportunities for developers to provide varied benefits and thereby play a part in enriching The National Forest environment. In practice, there are likely to be opportunities to combine several options within one scheme, particularly on larger sites where the green infrastructure should form a key element of the masterplanning process. This will be dependent upon the overall aims of the scheme which should be defined at the outset.

New Woodlands

  • Incorporated within the development or planted adjacent to or off site. New woodlands should be over 0.25 hectare to be eligible for the England Woodland Grant Scheme (Forestry Commission).
  • Choose whether to plant a primarily commercial, conservation or amenity woodland to determine tree species (advice is available from the NFC).
  • Include at least 20% open space (i.e. grassland paths and glades and/or non-wooded wildlife habitats - see below). Provide footpath routes where possible and look to connect to existing rights of way.

Woodland Belts

  • Peripheral belts of planting to frame/landscape new developments or to separate development from neighbouring uses.
  • Promote as advance planting around development sites.

New Spinneys

  • To create pockets of wooded greenspace within developments, breaking up a continuous built appearance. 0.1 - 0.25 hectare in size.


  • Use feature trees and groups of trees to create new parkland style landscapes.
  • Can be used as a transition from formal landscaping within a development to 'natural' woodland adjoining a development.
  • Can be used to add character to large areas of car parking or open space around schools, care homes etc.


  • Flood attenuation basins, swales and other sustainable urban drainage features should be designed for biodiversity as well as flood storage and should be sited to connect with other Forest planting and landscaping.

Community Orchards

  • Planting local varieties of fruit trees to create new orchards adding to wooded character and providing opportunities for community development. Ideally sited with new allotment provision.

Open Space

  • There may be circumstances where public open space, (excluding standard requirements for formal sports pitches), might form an element of schemes, particularly within housing developments, where a wooded character is created through planting, design of play areas and connections to other planting.

Wildlife habitats and species

  • The creation of new habitats and management of existing ones can form elements in their own right or count towards open space provision. (eg. wetlands, reedbeds, meadows, heathlands, hedgerows, woodlands). These will help to meet National Forest Biodiversity Action Plan targets.
  • Appropriate works in appropriate locations to protect and enhance target species identified in the National Forest Biodiversity Action Plan. (adder, all bat species, lesser spotted woodpecker, barn owl, ruddy darter dragonfly, bluebell, black poplar, otter and water vole). For example, otter holts beside rivers; nest boxes for barn owls; new ponds for ruddy darter dragonflies and water voles.

Historic Heritage

  • Protection, management and interpretation of special historic features, which can be incorporated within the open space elements of schemes.


  • Greenways should be designed to incorporate footpath routes with retained hedgerows, swales, linear open space and new planting and connect to the wider public rights of way network and any other adjoining National Forest sites.
  • Higher quality schemes will be recognised by providing access for other users in addition (e.g. disabled people, cyclists and horseriders). Such schemes will require appropriate surfacing of access routes.

Recreation and tourism

  • Creation of appropriate recreation and visitor facilities (eg. fishing pools, nature trails, orienteering courses, sites for water and motor sports, infrastructure towards National Forest tourism-related projects). For further details refer to The National Forest Strategy.

Interpretation and waymarking

  • In some instances, interpretation of sites may be appropriate by installing interpretative boards, producing site information leaflets and waymarking new paths.

Wooded Character

In addition to the above options which are quantifiable against the National Forest Planting Guidelines, development should create a distinctive character reflecting its position within The National Forest. The incorporation of some of the following planting options into the design will help to achieve this in addition to character created through the built design explained in the following section.

Roadside/Avenue trees

  • As part of a designed street hierarchy, incorporation of trees of different scales and densities can emphasise main routes and add legibility to development.

Development landscaping

  • Ornamental landscaping is often expected as a normal element of development schemes. In The National Forest there should be more of a trees emphasis (i.e. rather than mainly ornamental shrubs).

Garden Trees

  • In housing schemes a free tree should be offered to each new owner. This will help to create new green space in developments and involve local residents in The National Forest.

Contact us


Philip Metcalfe, Green Infrastructure and Planning Officer

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National Forest Company
Enterprise Glade
Bath Yard
DE12 6BA
United Kingdom

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+44 (0)1283 551211

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