A rewilding revolution which took root 30 years ago in the English Midlands has branched out over 200 square miles, becoming one of the most successful efforts in Europe.
The National Forest now consists of nine million trees spread across three counties, and links the ancient woodlands of Needwood, and Charnwood.
Reforestation has exploded across Europe, the continent that’s lost more of its forests over the last 200 years than any other. Between 1990 and 2010, tree cover increased by 11 million hectares, or around 27 million acres, and just since 2015, €8.2 billion has been earmarked by governments for reforestation efforts.
The significance of the National Forest comes partly from where it’s taken shape. The English Midlands is one of the West’s famous mining regions, like the Ruhr Valley or the Appalachians.
The history of the towns in the counties of Derbyshire (D-Arbee-sher), Leicestershire (Less-ter-sher), and Staffordshire are entwined with an industry that gradually died off, leaving behind disused mining pits and quarries as stains on the landscape.
Now such blemishes have been turned into green parks and nature reserves, and have been combined with the surrounding countryside, farmland, and existing woods to give England a wilder heart.