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Heart of England Forest

The Heart of England Forest is a charity committed to helping reverse centuries of woodland decline by planting a 30,000 acre (122 km2) joined up forest of entirely native broadleaf trees. At 12% of their planting goal, they have already planted England’s largest new native forest.

Heart of England Forest
LocationWarwickshire, England
Nearest cityBidford on Avon
CoordinatesCoordinates: 52°09′19″N 1°48′50″W / 52.1553°N 1.8139°W / 52.1553; -1.8139
Area14.5 square kilometres (3,600 acres)
DesignerFelix Dennis
Operated byThe Heart of England Forest Ltd.

Located principally in South Warwickshire with some woodland in Worcestershire the forest stretches from the ancient borders of Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden south to the edge of the Vale of Evesham.

To date, the charity has planted more than 1.3 million trees across 3,000 acres of new woodland between Honeybourne (Worcestershire) to the south and the Spernall Estate (Warwickshire) to the north. Additionally, they have protected and manage a further 600 acres of ancient woodland.

The charity was founded by Felix Dennis, and is now headed by a board of five trustees, led by the chairman, Jon Snow who was appointed in June 2014.


Visitor AccessEdit

The charity has opened up much of its woodland to the public via permitted access footpaths and accessible routes. In 2015 they opened their first visitor car parks in and around Dorsington along with way marked routes. More car parks and walking trails are planned.

The charity also works with a number of local schools and education groups to offer an exciting and vibrant outdoor classroom. An established, secure ‘Wild Wood’ zone welcomes school groups and other local organisations every week, so children from both rural and city communities can get a hands-on lesson in the great outdoors.


100% of the trees planted are native broadleaf including English Oak, Alder, Birch, Sycamore, Hornbeam, Wild Service and Rowan. See full species list below.

The Heart of England Forest plants around 300 acres of new planting each year between November and April. Across 2015 / 2016 the Heart of England Forest will plant approx. 170,000 trees – their highest total for one planting season to date.

The charity also grows saplings for planting at an in house tree nursery. Currently producing around 30% of the oak trees planted - the aspiration is that eventually all tree saplings planted will have been grown from seed in house.

The design of the woodland includes wide paths to ensure a beautiful accessible forest, full of light and air.

English oak Quercus robur
Sessile oak Quercus petraea
Birch Betula pendula
Alder Alnus glutinosa
Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus
Aspen Populus tremula
Small-leaved lime Tilia cordata
Sweet chestnut Castanea sativa
Hornbeam Carpinus betulus
Holly Ilex aquifolium
Wild service tree Sorbus torminalis
Beech Fagus sylvatica
Rowan Sorbus aucuparia
Field maple Acer campestre
Cherry Prunus avium
Whitebeam Sorbus aria
White poplar Populus alba
Willow (mixed) Salix cinerea
Salix purpurea
Salix viminalis
Hazel Corylus avellana
Dogwood Cornus sanguinea
Common privet Ligustrum vulgare
Guelder rose Viburnum opulus
Wayfaring tree Viburnum lantana
Spindle Euonymus europaeus
Buckthorn Rhamnus cathartica


The original vision for the Heart of England Forest came from the English businessman, local landowner and philanthropist Felix Dennis. He wanted to bring trees back to the local landscape with a native forest – to plant a ‘joined-up’ woodland that would provide vital green corridors for wildlife, as well as a light and airy place for everyone to walk and enjoy.

In 1996, he planted his first small wood near his home in Dorsington, Warwickshire. In 2003, the charity was founded and ten years later Dennis planted the forest’s millionth tree. He died in 2014, but his vision to plant at least 300 acres of land each year and open up the forest as a resource and refuge is at the heart of all future plans.[citation needed]

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