About England’s Community Forests

England’s national programme of Community Forests is a successful model for community involvement, inclusion, environmental regeneration and green infrastructure creation.


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For further help please contact us at:

Email: secretariat@
communityforest.org.uk


England’s Community Forests are located in and around our largest towns and cities

Our Aim

Our aim is to deliver a comprehensive package of urban, economic and social regeneration, creating high-quality environments for millions of people by revitalising derelict land, providing new opportunities for leisure, recreation, and cultural activities, enhancing biodiversity, preparing for climate change and supporting education, healthy living and social and economic development.

Each Community Forest is a partnership between local authorities and local, regional and national partners including the Forestry Commission and Natural England. The founding basis for each Forest is a government-approved Forest Plan, a 30-year vision of landscape-scale improvement.

Since 2011, the Community Forests have had a national accord with the Forestry Commission.

Origins

The Community Forest programme was established in 1990 by the then Countryside Commission as a pilot project to demonstrate the potential contribution of environmental improvement to economic and social regeneration. The three initial pilots quickly grew to a national programme, which made use of broad-based partnerships to pioneer activity and deliver lasting change. Recently, Community Forests have moved towards greater financial independence from national funding bodies and further strengthening our local focus. The long-term vision is as relevant as ever, contributing directly to agendas across Government.

Achievements

Since 1990, England’s Community Forests have

  • Planted over 10,000 hectares of new woodland
  • Brought more than 27,000 hectares of exiting woodland under management
  • Created or improved 12,000 hectares of other habitats
  • Planted or restored 1,200 kilometres of hedgerows
  • Opened up 16,000 hectares of woods and green-space for recreation and leisure
  • Restored or created more than 4,000 kilometres of footpaths and cycle routes
  • Engaged and involved hundreds of thousands of people in finding out about and improving their local areas
  • Secured investment of over £175 million to improve people’s quality of life

Collectively, this work has formed the largest environmental regeneration initiative in England. Major contributions have been made to Government agendas including quality of life, health, community cohesion and addressing climate change. Best practice has been developed and tested and national policy influenced. Community Forests have played a key role in developing and championing Green Infrastructure.

The Future

The Community Forests are proud of their partnership working and robust track record of delivery. They remain of critical relevance to agendas now and into the future. Including:

  • Positively addressing climate change and improving quality of life by working with existing communities to plant trees, create local green spaces, access routes and promote local food growing;
  • Positively addressing climate change and improving quality of life by developing new sustainable communities able to minimise flood risk, storm water flows and be linked to local food and fuel;
  • Building sustainable communities through work to actively engage all sections of the community in understanding, using, gaining benefit from and improving existing and new green spaces;
  • Delivering long-term and sustainable landscape, biodiversity and access improvements which provide diverse benefits to this and future generations.
  • Positively contributing to the investment potential of the country’s largest towns and cities, and providing diverse benefits to the local economy.

The experience gained over the past two decades by the Community Forests has been and continues to be recognised by national, regional and local Government. It places the Community Forests in a unique position of being able to draw upon best practice, grow new partnerships across England and beyond and continue to be an agent of real change.


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