What is the National Forest

The National Forest is a story of regeneration.

25 years ago, large swathes of the Midlands landscape had been left scarred by centuries of coal mining and other heavy industry. But a passionate group of people had a vision: a forest. The first forest to be created at scale in England for over 1000 years, it transformed and literally turned the landscape from black to green.

What is the National Forest?

The National Forest started as an idea that, like a tiny seed, was planted and nurtured until it grew into what it is today - 200 square miles of mixed habitat forest, huge green lungs that have breathed life into a landscape and transformed communities and lives. Farmers have become foresters and children have experienced forest schools. 9 million trees have been planted to date and today it is recognised as one of the most ambitious and imaginative regeneration projects in the country.

Our history

Where is the National Forest?

Here is a map of the United Kingdom indicating on it, the location of The National Forest, just north west of Birmingham.

The National Forest is right in the heart of the country, embracing 200 square miles of the Midlands. It spans across parts of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire and aims to link the two ancient Forests of Charnwood and Needwood. With a history of coal mining and heavy industry, the landscape is now that of rolling farmland, ancient forests and new planted woodlands. Its main towns and villages include Burton upon Trent (famous for its brewing), Coalville and Swadlincote (formerly associated with the clay and coal mining industries) and the historic town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

What are we doing now?

We are creating a Forest for everyone. Continuing to grow, manage and make it more accessible so that the benefits are felt by everyone. We are creating a woodland culture of passionate people who can engage with it, so that it can provide a lasting benefit for generations to come.

What we do

Why we do this?

The National Forest is a regeneration success story, a green-print for a better way of life. In planting trees and thereby restoring a rich wildlife habitat to the area, it has provided a more sustainable and positive future for the next generation. It has boosted the local economy by creating jobs in the woodland and tourism industries. And in these stressful, tech-heavy times, there’s scientific proof that being around woodlands reduces stress and improves well-being. Who wouldn’t prefer to hear birdsong to the constant ping of their phone? Best of all – everyone can benefit from it because 80% of the National Forest now has public access.

Who is behind it?

The National Forest Company leads the creation of The National Forest. Established in April 1995, it is a charity and Non-Profit Institution within the Public Sector, sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Find out more

How we continue to do this?

The National Forest is a living place that needs ongoing support to flourish and this takes time and effort. For this we need you. There are many different ways to get involved. You could be hands-on and join a conservation team or lead walks, or you could help by making a monthly donation to help plant more trees and develop the Forest. Whichever way you decide to help, you’ll be investing in something tangible. Because the thing is, it benefits us all. It’s our National Forest. Our backyard, our office, our playground, our Saturday morning run, our weekend cycle, our reconnection back with nature. So get involved in creating what comes next. Become part of the story.

Ways you can help

Give your time

You don’t need to donate to contribute to the special work the National Forest is doing. Become a volunteer or create habitats for wildlife in your garden.

Get involved

Make a donation

Whether you want to make a one-off donation, monthly donation or become a business sponsor, every donation matters.


Plant a tree

You can help to grow the Forest by planting a tree. Whether in your garden or with us, planting a tree is a special experience and it’s easy to do.

Plant a tree