New Strategy for National Forest
A new strategy has been launched for the next decade of the National Forest.
(l-r) Sophie Churchill, Chief Executive, NFC; Tom Surrey, Deputy Director, Landscape and Outdoor Recreation, Defra; Catherine Graham-Harrison, Chair, National Forest Company; Adrian Phillips, National Forest Ambassador
The National Forest 2014-2024 outlines future plans for the area, including increased forest management, a move towards charitable status for the National Forest Company (NFC) and more emphasis on habitat with development of greenspace.
The National Forest covers 200 square miles of the counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Its objective is to increase woodland cover within its boundaries from an initial six per cent to one third, and become a multi-purpose sustainable forest.
During the next decade, NFC is aiming for charitable status, as it moves away from Defra and becomes more capable of entrepreneurial activity. As part of this there will be increased opportunities for business sponsors.
Catherine Graham-Harrison, Chair of NFC, said; “After nearly twenty years of investment and growth on the ground, The National Forest is here to stay. It is visible in the landscape and valued by a very wide range of people and organisations. The strategy consultation told us that people want the investment to continue, including making it very easy to enjoy the forest, whatever your interest. It needs to be well looked after, into the future.”
Transforming Landscape and Community
The new strategy was launched at an event at the National Trust’s Calke Abbey last Wednesday (25 June). Guests were treated to an inspiring presentation from three young students on their experience of growing up in the National Forest, and an interview with National Forest Ambassador, Adrian Phillips, one of the early visionaries for the inception of the forest in 1987, in his role at the Countryside Commission. He said:
“Three things account for the success of The National Forest. Firstly, it is a national exemplar – other areas can learn from your experience; secondly, you have a bold vision and you stick to it; thirdly, it is about people and nature – and the most important word here is ‘and’.”
Guests were also shown NFC’s recent video, The National Forest – Lives Transformed, which explored the area’s coal mining history and the role of the forest in transforming both the landscape and the lives of the community. You can watch this video below.
NCF Annual Report
The new strategy launch came hot on the heels of its 2013-14 annual report. The report highlighted results of the Central Government Triennial Review, which asked whether NFC was in a position to continue to lead the development of a national forest and whether this was still required. Both questions received a yes under the review, with both local and national partners favouring the continuation of work. Other key elements of the report included:
- Launch of the National Forest Way and participation of volunteers and County Council partners in its preparation
- Forest creation at 149ha with 100,000 trees planted
- Three Changing Landscapes Schemes
- A new Woodland Management Programme running to 2018
- Diversification of business sponsorship from tree planting to other projects
To read the report in full, visit the NFC Website.