Trees major part of urban residential appeal, says National Forest Company survey

An extensive survey by the National Forest Company has given a huge stamp of approval to trees in urban communities.

National Forest Company commissioned the survey - carried out as part of a review of the National Forest Strategy 2004-14 - to explore ways to strengthen links between the forest and local communities.

Many people said trees formed a major incentive for people to move into or back to the area. People enjoyed woodlands within easy walking distance of their homes.

The National Forest covers 200 square miles (518 sq km) of the English Midlands across parts of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire.

Sophie Churchill, chief executive of the National Forest Company, said: "The survey gave us some good pointers for things to do more of, and these will be taken forward.

"There was an obvious sense of pride. Respondents see the area continuing to improve and have a sense of ownership when they had help plant some of the trees."

Future priorities include more tree planting, appropriate densities and planting to tie in with other habitats, said Sophie Churchill.

Well over half said the standard of places they visited for tree care, paths'
maintenance, information boards, car parks and personal safety were good.

The research was conducted by Alison Millward Associates and over 200 people from the three residential areas of Moira/Donisthorpe, Swadlincote/Woodville and Walton on Trent took part.

These communities were chosen to represent areas of high, medium and lower levels of tree planting since the early 1990s. Respondents ranged from 10-year-olds to retired miners.

The research will form part of the new delivery plan for The National Forest, due out at the end of March 2009.

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