National Forest to expand

Some 57 hectares of new woodland and other wildlife habitats are to be created across the three counties of the National Forest.

Nineteen farmers, businesses and private individuals received certificates at an award ceremony held by the National Forest Company (NFC) to celebrate their commitment in helping to create The National Forest. 

They had all applied to the NFC’s Changing Landscapes Scheme and Freewoods grant schemes which encourage landowners within the Forest to convert land into woodland and other habitats.

NFC Chair Dinah Nichols said: "Your enthusiasm is contributing directly to the social, environmental and economic progress of The National Forest.  Each of your schemes is different, reflecting a sense of place that is quite remarkable – no one organisation could have designed this variety."

Nichols added: "As the forest develops, we are able to demonstrate the extensive benefits that public investment is bringing. Local communities express their pride in being part of the Forest, we see increasing wildlife as the woodlands grow and connect and there has been a significant increase in jobs in the area through tourism and leisure as well as though woodland creation and management."

The 19 successful schemes will create new woodland, other wildlife habitats and new places for recreation and public access, adding more than 57 ha to ‘forest cover’ within the 200 square miles of the National Forest. 

Since the forest’s inception in the early 1990s, forest cover has more than trebled from 6% to 18.4%, and nearly eight million trees have been planted. The eventual aim is to achieve one third forest cover over the whole National Forest area.

There will be 12 new schemes in Leicestershire, five in Derbyshire and two in Staffordshire, ranging from farms, private landowners, schools, a golf club, county and parish council-led applications and a rugby club. The areas of land covered within these schemes range from 0.3 ha to 14.5 ha. 

Many of the woodlands are specifically designed to benefit wildlife and conservation, others to provide amenity, shelter or firewood. 

One area will be planted as a wet woodland with alder and ash trees, and mature crack willow trees already growing on the site will be pollarded in keeping with traditional woodland management techniques.

Freewoods is available for areas of land less than one hectare and is open for applications throughout the year.  The Changing Landscapes Scheme is available for land over one hectare and the current round of applications is open until 31 March 2011.

Both schemes are highly adaptable to the needs of the landowner and anyone with land in the National Forest who may be interested in creating woodland and other wildlife habitats should contact Matt Brocklehurst, Head of Forestry at the National Forest Company on 01283 551211.

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