New plans for Sherwood Forest to become part of wider 'national forest' scheme

The Major Oak.
The Major Oak.

Cherished woodland in Sherwood Forest could be extended and protected under a new review on the nation's beautiful outdoor spaces.

A landscapes review published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has suggested that more could be done to celebrate and connect England's national parks and areas of natural beauty (AONB).

Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre.

Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre.

It found that "big ambitions" could be achieved if 10 different national parks, including Sherwood Forest, and 34 other AONB's worked together "to become more than the sum of their parts".

The independent review, led by environmentalist Julian Glover, assessed whether the protections for National Parks and AONBs are still fit for purpose and made proposals to create a larger, country-wide 'National Forest' scheme.

The proposals would also replace the description of outdoor 'areas of national beauty' to 'national landscapes'.

The report said: "We want this to happen not as an end in itself but because more must be done for nature and natural beauty.

"More must be done for people who live in and visit our landscapes. And a lot more must be done to meet the needs of our many fellow citizens who do not know the countryside, or do not always feel welcome in it, but should be able to enjoy it.

"Our landscapes are open and free to all, but can seem exclusive.

"We would also like to see the encouragement of a wider range of non-designated systems of landscape protection, which should be members of the national landscapes family.

"This ought to include new areas of forest, along the lines of the successful National Forest in the East Midlands.

"Our national parks are not separate but part of one ambition: to strengthen the natural beauty of England’s landscapes in order to serve the country better by improving their biodiversity, and the lives of people who work in them, live in them and enjoy them.

"Our overriding conclusion is that without structural reform and greater shared ambition and status, our national landscapes will always struggle to do more than make an incremental difference."

The report and the proposals have been welcomed by a designated Sherwood Forest Group.

Pauline Meechan, Sherwood Forest Friends of the Earth, said: "Sherwood Forest is one of the most famous forests in the world, a source of wonder to local residents and tourists from afar - but today it's just a shadow of its former glory.

"The time has come to restore Sherwood Forest to its historic and legendary extent, when its beautiful oak woods stretched in an unbroken expanse from Nottingham to Worksop.

"Restoring the wildwood would not only rejuvenate wildlife and reconnect rare habitats, but also help fight the climate emergency, with new trees dragging carbon out of the air and locking it up in their trunks.

"Now it could go further still and help reforest Britain, a vital next step in the battle against climate breakdown."

You can read the full report here.