The New Community Forests

The word 'Forest' gives rise to images of towering trunks, impenetrable undergrowth and limited vistas, but David Hunter dispelled that vision when he addressed the Society on the 19th October. As project co-ordinator of the Forest of Mercia Project he regards trees as a visual reminder of the Green Belt and described the project as creating places on the edge of towns and cities where well wooded landscapes will provide a mixture of woods, farmland, open spaces and settlements.

Twelve such Community Forests are planned for England. Each expected to cover between 30 and 80 square miles, they are intended to provide opportunities for forestry and farming industry, recreation - walking riding and a variety of sporting activities, in addition to an extended habitat for wildlife.

The Forest of Mercia has a clearly defined but irregular boundary and extends from Gailey in the west to the edge of Lichfield in the east. Its southern boundary marks the densely populated and built up areas of Wolverhampton, Willenhall and Walsall. A staggered line from just to the north of Penkridge to the western side of Watery Lane is its northern boundary, the whole embracing urban Cannock, Burntwood, Brownhills and Aldridge.

This talk was illustrated with a wealth of superb slides showing the variety of landscapes to be developed, many of which are designed to recover derelict land.

Ivor Mitchell
October 1993