What we do
Creating a Forest for everyone.
For more than 25 years, we’ve been working with public, private, voluntary and community organisations to create the National Forest. One of the boldest environmental regeneration projects in the world, we are truly transforming a scarred landscape from black to green. But the story doesn’t stop here. We believe that trees are the catalyst for transformation, not only of the landscape but of the economy and for our communities too. By continuing to grow the Forest, making it accessible to all and creating a woodland culture of passionate people who can engage with it, we can provide a lasting benefit for generations to come.
Creating a connected Forest.
With the demands of a changing climate, our future forest landscape must be resilient and adaptable. This means we need to continue to plant new woodlands, extend other habitats and improve connections using hedgerows, orchards and gardens. These areas also need managing to help our wildlife thrive, combat new pests and diseases, and maintain easy access. We are creating a living, working Forest to green our towns and support new developments, as well as promoting farming and rural businesses. A resilient Forest will help us all adapt to these future challenges, providing clean air, improved water quality, a reduction in flooding and shelter from temperature extremes.
Since the early 1990s, we’ve transformed 200 square miles of the Midlands through the planting of 8.9 million trees, increasing Forest cover from 6% to more than 20%. We’re aiming for around a third Forest cover so there is much more to do. We continue to work with partners, such as landowners, local authorities and charities to create the Forest, using a range of mechanisms including running our own grant schemes, supporting land acquisition, working through the planning system and supporting communities.
We know the importance of taking care of our Forest so that it is both resilient and productive - that’s why we’ve worked hard to get over 70% of woodland in the National Forest into active management. We want to achieve 80% by 2020 to help our woodlands reach maturity and cope with future challenges. We do this through offering advice and support to landowners and groups, providing woodland management grants, running events and training, and helping to manage pests and diseases.
Part of growing our Forest is creating and restoring habitats that support our wildlife. It’s our ambition that the Forest will become home to thriving populations of plants and animals, so that people can engage and experience wildlife on their doorstep. We’ve created more than 2,250 ha of non-woodland priority habitats including grasslands, wetlands and heathlands, as well as supporting priority species through our small grants fund, advice and support, and wildlife survey and recording work.
Creating an accessible Forest.
We believe the benefits of our Forest should be felt by everyone. That’s why we are creating woodlands with public access and new trails to connect to where people live and work. We also want our communities to understand and engage with the Forest, to promote healthier lifestyles, outdoor learning and hands-on activities. We are working to ensure that every community in the Forest is within 500 metres of woodland, and every school has access to an outdoor learning space. By doing this, we are providing a leading example for accessible woodlands and helping to build a new woodland culture here in the Forest.
We’re creating our woodlands with people in mind so they can reap the many benefits. That’s why 80% of our new woodlands are publically accessible. We work with landowners, charities, businesses and local authorities to create new cycleways and bridleways, as well as connecting footpaths, so the Forest can be enjoyed off-road. We are also increasing the promotion of walks and trails, and the 75 mile National Forest Way.
There’s growing research that supports the benefits of being outdoors. From health & wellbeing, to outdoor education, we’re passionate about engaging people to go out and experience the Forest. So far, over half a million children have taken part in outdoor education and we’ve supported over 45 community groups to manage woodlands. We won’t stop there. We’re working to give every child in the Forest access to outdoor education, and continuing to grow volunteering, as well as promoting outdoor activities and events to improve the wellbeing of our Forest residents and visitors.
Creating a sustainable Forest.
In order for the National Forest to continue to develop and thrive, it needs to be sustainable. That means businesses growing hand in hand with the Forest, visitors coming to enjoy a forest experience and communities benefiting from new forest enterprises. With a Forest you have to take a long term view, and we have a clear vision for a greener future. We believe the Forest can drive regeneration to develop a thriving visitor, woodland and low-carbon economy that creates lasting jobs, provides opportunities to improve skills and increases aspirations.
In 2013, VisitEngland recognised the National Forest as an emerging visitor destination; five years on and the Forest is welcoming 8.2m visitors per year and supporting nearly 5,000 jobs. We want to create a sustainable tourism industry, growing those businesses that support the aims of the Forest, and increasing outdoor facilities and experiences for visitors that help reinforce the sense of place. From joint promotion, support and advice, events development and grant funding, we support the sector to develop in line with the Forest brand.
Woodland and low carbon economy
Hundreds of woodland and forestry jobs have been created as new businesses have set up to help manage and utilise the National Forest. We partner with and support groups and businesses to reap the benefits of the woodlands, promoting farm diversification into forestry, woodfuel, crafting, woodland skills, green energy and more. Through grant support, advice, branding, training and innovation, we see real opportunities for growth of this sector.
Who we are
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
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.Donate
Give to the Forest
Give monthly or one-off donation?