The National Forest Company (NFC) has launched an innovative programme to encourage effective woodland management throughout the 200 square miles of The National Forest.
The NFC is responsible for the creation of The National Forest, which spans parts of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Over eight million trees have been planted since the inception of the Forest in the early 1990s, and, including the existing mature woodland, the Forest now comprises several hundred woodlands, with many more millions of trees to plant.
As the first woodlands to be planted in the Forest approach first thinnings, the NFC has been working to prioritise woodland management as well as woodland creation. Part of the necessary investment has been the appointment of Charles Robinson as Woodland Management Officer, and the creation of an extensive woodland management programme.
The aims of the programme are to:
- promote the benefits of Woodland Management Plans;
- develop the local woodland economy and timber markets;
- maximise the potential of each site in keeping with the aspirations of the woodland owner;
- ensure the sustainability of the management work and planned future work;
- encourage the management of woodland for its forestry, landscape, biodiversity and recreation value;
- develop resilient woodlands and other forest sites that can adapt to climate change, help to sequester carbon and are robust to the challenges faced by tree pests and diseases.
Charles will liaise with the Forest’s woodland owners, promoting the benefits of good management and offering advice on Woodland Management Plans. He will be researching potential markets for timber and advising on funding and grants to help with the work.
The NFC itself is making a new grant scheme available for woodland owners within The National Forest. Targeted at the management of 15 – 23 year old woodlands, which make up over 2,800 hectares of the Forest, as well as mature woodland, the scheme will be piloted this winter, and if successful, will be rolled out as part of the overall programme in the summer of 2014.
Charles Robinson said: “Planning for woodland development is as important as getting the trees in the ground in the first place. This programme gives us the mechanism to make a real difference to the productivity, resilience, health and accessibility of the woodlands in The National Forest. We have a great opportunity here in the Forest to foster a communal will to have great woods, well looked after, reaping benefits for the woodland owner, and producing a welcoming environment for wildlife and people.”
The woodland management programme encourages good practice amongst all woodland owners in the Forest, and is equally applicable to community groups who may be interested in taking on the management of woodland near where they live.
For further information about this programme in The National Forest, contact Charles Robinson on 01283 551211, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
1. The National Forest area 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 about a third. No multi-purpose forest on this scale has been created in the UK for one thousand years. To date the proportion of woodland cover in the Forest has more than trebled to 19.5 per cent and in 2012 HRH the Duke of Cambridge planted the eight millionth tree in the Forest.
2. Year by year, The National Forest has been steadily turning what was once one of the least wooded areas of England into a multi-purpose, sustainable forest. The National Forest provides environmental, social and economic benefits, including landscape enhancement, creation of new wildlife habitats and major new access and leisure opportunities. It is an excellent example of sustainable development – with environmental improvement providing a stimulus both to economic regeneration and to community pride and activity.
3. To achieve these objectives, the National Forest Company leads the creation of The National Forest, working in partnership with landowners, local authorities, private business, voluntary organisations and local communities and has strong support from Government, politicians and the public. The Company receives grant in aid from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
4. The Independent Panel on Forestry, in its final report published in July 2012, stated: ‘The National Forest exemplifies how a long term, resourced and focused agenda can increase publicly accessible woodland in an area alongside other environmental and economic benefits.’
5. In 2008, the National Forest Company and partners won the inaugural Sustainable Development UK Award, for their work in Ashby Woulds, at the heart of The National Forest.