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The National Forest Company, one of the biggest environmental initiatives creating and managing woodlands in the UK

Rural topic(s): Sustainable forestry

Type: Narrative story

Date of writing: May 2, 2016

Author(s) of this page: Simon West

Organization(s): NFC (National Forest Company)


The National Forest is one of the biggest and boldest environmental initiatives in the UK. It is transforming the landscape of 200 square miles of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire. Since 1995, forest cover has trebled from 6% to over 20%, through the creation of over 7000ha of new woods. Management of these and older woodlands to develop a woodland economy is being encouraged



Location. 200 square miles of East Staffordshire, South Derbyshire and North west Leicestershire covering former coal mining and gravel extraction areas

People/ institutions involved. National Forest Company (non-departmental public body, now with charity status) oversees delivery of the Forest, Local Authorities, private landowners, local residents and businesses, NGOs etc

Description of activities

The National Forest Company funds landowners (mainly private) to create and manage woodlands and associated habitats (meadows, parkland etc). We work with businesses to develop the wood supply chain and tourism destinations in the Forest.

The National Forest Company:

  • Attracts and uses resources for ambitious and imaginative Forest creation that is sensitive to the landscape and environment.

  • Provides the setting for new businesses, recreation, tour-ism and an improved quality of life

  • Enhances wildlife and biodiversity.

  • Creation of new woods. 7048ha.

  • Management of woodlands. 2733ha (49%) in management.

  • Woodland economy.49 businesses advised.


Challenges. Continuing to expand the Forest, engage with landowners and visitors and develop the destination

Next steps. Move focus more onto managing the Forest, developing a woodland and visitor economy


Presentation given at the Market of Initiatives at the occasion of the 1st workshop on sustainable forestry, 17-20 March 2016, UK


Contact: Simon West

The National Forest Company,

E-mail: swest(a)nationalforest.org

Website: www.nationalforest.org



Scale of intervention : Regional

Keywords: diversification of economic activities, sustainable woodland, locally-based economy, woodland creation, improvement of biodiversity, woodland management, ecotourism, wood supply chain, ecosystem services, natural habitats preservation

Places: United-Kingdom

Actors: non-departmental public body, forest owner, association, local authority, volunteers

Methods: networking, consulting/expertise, promotion of local economic activity

See also:

Success stories: