Memorial woodland set to be created to remember lives lost in the pandemic

21st May 2021

We are proud to announce that the National Forest Company is working in partnership with the National Memorial Arboretum to create a memorial woodland in memory of every person who died as a result of the pandemic, providing a space for contemplation while inspiring hope for the future. 

Memorial Woodland Vision Sketch


The plans to create the 25-acres woodland have been launched to coincide with the 20th anniversary since the National Memorial Arboretum opened its doors to the public and is part of a new ambitious vision for modern Remembrance which has sustainability, accessibility, and inclusion at its core. The National Forest was privileged to help start the conversation that brought the national centre for reflection and remembrance to the National Forest and will be supporting the new memorial woodland through advising on woodland creation, tree species, design, planning and sustainability. 

“Covid-19 has made us all take stock, reflect on what we hold dear, and be inspired to create something better,” said John Everitt, Chief Executive of the National Forest Company. “The National Forest embodies this spirit of regeneration and, through these plans for a new memorial woodland, demonstrates how we are literally growing the future together, breathing new life and hope into the nation’s recovery.” 

Plans are now being developed on a former quarry adjacent to the arboretum, to transform the existing scrubland and silt pond into an inspirational living landscape, representative of the changing seasons, where people can gather to reflect and contemplate the impact of the pandemic and remember loved ones who have died as a result. The landscape design will feature diverse wildlife habitats and will incorporate reflective glades, areas for gathering and play, an inclusive space for reflection and worship, and an expansive lake. 

Seasonal Planting


“Located on former quarry workings, this new woodland will heal the landscape as we heal as a nation in the wake of the pandemic,” said Philipppa Rawlinson, Managing Director of the National Memorial Arboretum. “This new commemorative space, in the heart of the country, will be the logical place for any national government-sponsored tribute honouring the contribution of the incredible NHS heroes and other key workers who have valiantly served our communities. We strongly believe that the design of such a memorial should be inspirational, capturing the incredible community spirit that has carried us through challenging times. A simple bronze sculpture will never do justice to a rainbow.” 

Ground work is expected to begin in early 2022 before planting starts, with the woods due to open in 2023. 

A grove of trees representing the diversity of religion across the Commonwealth will be planted in the woodland as part of the Arboretum’s vision for inclusive Remembrance. The trees will be blessed during a memorial service in Westminster Abbey which will bring together many different faiths in remembering the loss of life and the impact of bereavement in the last year.   

Ongoing community engagement is a key part of the plan to ensure that the memorial woodland evolves and responds to the needs of the nation. Plans include a community activity programme where people will be invited to help influence aspects of the design, including the style and symbolism of artistic sculptures that will be commissioned to complement the woodland landscape and lake. 

As the plans progress we will keep you updated via our blog and social channels. You can find out more and read the full announcement over on the National Memorial Arboretum website.