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All about the Forest

The National Forest road sign

Over twenty years ago, visionary leaders made the decision to create a new, large, forested area in England, to show all the many benefits that come from woodland near where people live and work. The area in the Midlands which came to be known as The National Forest was chosen in part because the woodland cover was very low (about 6%). There was also a great need for regeneration after the end of mining and, importantly, incredible public support for the idea.

Since then, the 200 square miles of The National Forest have been transformed through the planting of millions of trees (8m by October 2012) and the creation of many other valuable habitats. It boasts many new attractions and forest-based activities and has stimulated many woodland-linked businesses. Whilst more than 200,000 people live in the Forest, it is also within just 90 minutes' journey time for about 10 million people and is open to all, with an increasing network of trails and recreational opportunities.

Forest cover, which includes open spaces, water and other habitats, is nudging 20% in 2012. The National Forest depends on a wide range of partners including many landowners, who retain their land whilst planting all or some of it to form part of the Forest. The original idea, of blending new and maturing woodland within a wide variety of landscapes, has stood the test of time.

The exciting agenda now is to continue to plant the right woods in the right place, to make the most of what has been created and for more people to enjoy and love the Forest. Soon, many of the early woodlands will be ready for first thinnings. Foresters and woodland owners enjoy this challenging phase, as bold decision-making, sharp tools and action are needed to steer the woodland's development. The effect can be a dramatic step-change - when the wood begins to look less like lines of trees and more like what we imagine a wood to be. We want to make sure this happens and that the woods grow to healthy maturity.

With support from Central Government, (Defra), The National Forest is seen as a national exemplar of this kind of multipurpose forestry on a large, landscape, scale. It has an increasing profile nationally and internationally. The National Forest Company leads the creation of The National Forest and as well as delivering day-to-day its small team is committed to research and evidence on the progress of the Forest.


Nature Conservation

Bluebells amoungst the grass at an outwoods site

The development of The National Forest offers unprecedented opportunities to create and enhance a wide range of wildlife habitats.

Locking up our Carbon

Locking up our Carbon

Helping create The National Forest is one of the many steps you could take towards offsetting the effects of climate change.


31 Oct 2014

From Strength to Strength: Lex Autolease and The National Forest

The long-standing partnership between Lex Autolease and the National Forest Company (NFC) is about to enter an exciting new phase. The UK's largest fleet funding and management specialist, Lex Autolease has worked closely with the NFC since 2006 and has now agreed to extend the partnership until 2016.

13 Oct 2014

Demand for Grown in Britain Timber Increases

The National Forest Company welcomes Grown in Britain Week. Grown in Britain brings together everyone who values our forests, woods and trees and the products we can make from the wood they produce.

Find more articles: News



29 Nov 2014

National Forest Adventure Farm

Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire

Enjoy a day of adventure whatever the weather! Feed the animals, explore the Funfield, take a tractor and trailer ride, have fun in the Playbarn. Navigate the huge 10-acre Maize Maze during summer.

02 Dec 2014

Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre

Nuneaton, Warwickshire

22ndAugust 1485 a battle rages, King Richard III is defeated, Henry is crowned and the Tudor dynasty is born. Visit the award-winning exhibition and follow the King into battle, walk the Bosworth trail or simply enjoy a coffee in the medieval Tithe Barn restaurant.

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31 Oct 2014

Audrey Vaughan - volunteer at Hicks Lodge Cycle Centre

"I was somewhere I'd never been before. I thought: I'm getting wet, I'm getting cold - I'm enjoying myself!"

29 Oct 2014

Calke Explore!

Calke Explore! at the National Trustís Calke Abbey proved to be a big hit this summer. The play space was a new woodland experience designed to get visitors outdoors and closer to nature.

Find more: Blog