Sherwood Forest partnership lays down roots

The Woodland Trust is joining the RSPB and a number of other local partners to help shape the future of Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. Last week saw the partners mark the beginning of a new chapter for the forest with the foundation-laying for a new state of the art visitor centre.

It is part of an investment of more than £5 million by the RSPB to provide an improved visitor experience and preserve the forest for years to come. Back in August 2015, a consortium led by the RSPB won a once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop and manage the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve and to design and build a new visitor centre.

As an ‘associate partner’ the Woodland Trust will help tell the story within some of the interpretation elements of the new visitor centre, particularly focused around the forest’s iconic oaks as well as the wider woodland. The charity has a large amount of expertise in managing ancient and veteran trees and has over 150,000 records on its Ancient Tree Inventory.

The new visitor centre will be a modern gateway to the forest which is packed with ancient trees, including the iconic Major Oak – thought to be around 1,000 years old, as well as home to a wide variety of wildlife, from birds to rare insects. This will be designed to help visitors understand the huge importance of the woodland, as well as finding fun ways of connecting people to the wonderful nature of the forest.

Michael Copleston, regional development manager for the RSPB, said he was delighted to welcome The Woodland Trust, to strengthen even further the RSPB’s substantial experience in woodland management: “Sherwood is a truly inspiring place and the RSPB is hugely excited about the prospect of caring for this landscape. In order to do this as successfully as possible, we recognise the value in working with a range of partners who will complement and add to our own expertise.

“We are thrilled to be joined on our Sherwood project by the Woodland Trust, who will bring an exciting dimension to our woodland interpretation, as well as adding further expertise in management planning within the National Nature Reserve.”

Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust chief executive added: “Sherwood Forest is the country’s most iconic area of woodland and to be involved in its care is a privilege for us.

“We are delighted to work with our colleagues at the RSPB to ensure the unique heritage of the site and huge value it provides as a wildlife habitat is both preserved and enhanced.”

The partnership will also include some collaboration on the management planning of the National Nature Reserve, using the Trust’s expertise of managing ancient and veteran trees to explore the best ways to look after the forest’s unique cohort of ancient oaks.

When the new building opens in the summer of 2018, the current 1970s visitor centre and car parks will be removed, and the site where they stand returned to nature.

As well as providing the new centre, the RSPB-led partnership will also manage the stunning ancient woodland within Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve (NNR), currently under the care of Nottinghamshire County Council.  The council chose the RSPB to lead the consortium, and will remain a partner in the plans, having invested more than £4 million.

The Woodland Trust joined the consortium this month, as an associate partner, adding to the wealth of expertise on show. Local charity Sherwood Forest Trust, landowner Thoresby Estate and heritage attractions firm, Continuum Attractions complete the partnership.

To find out more about the partnership visit www.visitsherwood.co.uk

Cover image: Members of the RSPB-led partnership at Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve mark the ceremonial ground-breaking ahead of construction of a new visitor centre (Photo: RSPB/Richard Tatham)

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