To mark its centenary in 2019, the Forestry Commission has unveiled an ambitious programme of public engagement across England’s forests.
Created in the wake of the First World War, following the passing of the Forestry Act in 1919, the Forestry Commission is now England’s largest landowner. Originally established to replenish the country’s strategic timber reserve, it now leads world-class research and actively manages 250,000 hectares of forests to benefit people, nature and the economy. It is the Government’s expert forestry advisor and works with other landowners to help protect, improve and expand England’s forests.
To celebrate this centenary and the important benefits forests provide for our wellbeing, economy and environment, a year of events is planned.
The programme will see:
- New areas of woodland creation and tree-planting projects to ensure the economy, environment and our wellbeing continue to benefit from forests well into the future;
- Nature-lovers invited to take part in The Big Forest Find, England’s largest public survey of forest wildlife;
- Artists and writers commissioned to shine a light on the beauty, diversity and productivity of our forests;
- Runners and walkers challenged to take part in a new series of 10km events taking place on forest trails around the country, revelling in the enhanced sensory experience of being immersed in woodland, and
- A celebration of excellence in woodland management and its importance in maintaining sustainable forests for the future
Forestry Commission Director, Ian Gambles said “While we are celebrating the achievements of the past century in 2019, we will also be looking ahead to the next 100 years.
“Through our programme, we want to inspire everyone to share our passion for trees and forests, ensuring they are resilient to the changing climate and other challenges the future may bring.”
The Forestry Commission runs woodland creation grant schemes and is well on track to meeting the Government’s target of planting 11 million trees over the course of this parliament, by working with landowners to create well-designed woodland which will provide a wide range of environmental benefits. In their centenary year alone, they expect to see 2.4 million trees planted as a result of Government funded-planting schemes.
Amongst other woodland creation in 2019, the Forestry Commission will plant a new 100 acre resilient forest adjacent to Sence Valley in the National Forest in 2019.
Reflecting the Forestry Commission’s ethos, it will be an economically sustainable and productive mix of broadleaf and conifer trees that provide timber and new and improved habitats for wildlife, whilst alleviating flooding, offering increased public access, storing carbon and improving water quality.
On the London fringe, Berwick Glades Community Woodland in the Thames Chase Community Forest will almost double in size, offering generations of city-dwellers ready access to the many benefits of forests including cleaner air and more green space for recreation.
Centenary avenues, glades and individual trees will also be planted across England. From a new maple glade at Gloucestershire’s Westonbirt Arboretum to a restored tree avenue at Chopwell in Gateshead, new landscape features will be created culminating in a new commemorative avenue at Eggesford in Devon on 8 December 2019, marking the 100th anniversary of the first tree planted by the Forestry Commission.
In 2019 Forestry Commission woodlands will host The Big Forest Find, the largest forest ‘bioblitz’ to have taken place in England. Seasoned and budding wildlife enthusiasts will be invited to discover what’s in their forest by taking part in expert-led events to record their rich biodiversity.
These events will be an opportunity to learn about the many ways forests are carefully designed and managed to provide homes for wildlife, and how the balance of forest environments are nurtured and protected by the creatures that live in them. The resulting data will contribute to a baseline for forest biodiversity to be referenced in the future.
The programme begins this month, with the unveiling of a new sculpture by Turner prize-winning artist Rachel Whiteread in Yorkshire’s Dalby Forest, co-commissioned with 14-18 NOW. Nissen Hut is a concrete cast of the interior space of the distinctive military structures invented by Major Peter Nissen during the First World War, and were used to house work camps on Forestry Commission land after the organisation was established in 1919. Placing this sculpture deep in the heart of the forest will create a moving testament to the lasting relationship we have had with our changing landscapes over the past century.
In 2019, two writers in residence will spend time in forests to create new work that reflects the breadth and diversity of the landscapes that have been created and looked after by the Forestry Commission over the past century. From observing expert foresters designing and planting productive forests, to nurseries preparing tree saplings for planting, tracking wildlife rangers and watching our world-class scientists at work, two writers will have unprecedented access to England’s forests. An application process for writers will be opened in the Autumn of 2018.
The Forestry Commission’s forests will be brought to life for a new generation of nature lovers using virtual reality platform Google Expeditions. Accessible to millions of school children around the UK, Google Expeditions will allow young adventurers to explore the forest from the school room – whether that is a view of a tree canopy from an osprey’s nest or following a forester going about a day’s work.
Artist and film maker Amanda Loomes has been commissioned to create a new work, The Custody Code, that tells the behind-the-scenes stories of England’s forests, their timber, and the people who work in them. Filmed in Forestry Commission sites across England, it will show the chain of custody for sustainable timber, highlighting the stages and scale of timber production from seed to finished product. The film will be shown in forests around England in 2019.
As the country’s largest landowner, Forestry Commission sites present an unparalleled resource for helping to improve public health. In its centenary year, the Forestry Commission will continue its long history of embracing the many ways in which forests can help enhance wellbeing, starting with Forestry 100 – a series of 10km running events around England, challenging people to run 100km of forest trails country-wide in our centenary year.
Good Woods will be an online celebration of woodland management across the industry – shining a spotlight on committed landowners who have designed and maintained sustainable, resilient forests that provide clear benefits for people, the environment and the economy.
PK Khaira-Creswell, Director, centenary programme said “Over the past 100 years, the Forestry Commission has been the privileged custodian of the nation’s forests. We are proud to have created, and care for, some of the most varied and beautiful places in the country.
“Our forests reflect a century of learning and innovation as we have pioneered new ways to plant, design and manage sustainable woodlands for people, wildlife and the economy. Our centenary programme will tell the story of this shared heritage, offering opportunities to learn about forests and the important resource they represent for our culture and communities.”