Funding provides first birthday gift for Sherwood
The new Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre has even more to celebrate on reaching its first anniversary after being given a funding boost of almost £50,000, part of which will be used to help protect work being done to restore the forest.
Viridor Credits Environmental Company is providing £44,666 through the Landfill Communities Fund, which will pay for new fencing around the site of the old visitor facilities, as well as to carry out more work at Budby South Forest as part of its current project to improve habitat. Cecil Pilkington Charitable Trust also donated £5,000 towards the cost of the fencing.
Work is now under way on new post and rail fencing around the old site, which will allow visitors to see the forest restoration work under way without impacting on it, as the area needs time to recover.
The visitor facilities had to be moved as they were within a protected area of the forest, with one of the highest concentrations of ancient oaks which make Sherwood so special. Sadly, though it felt magical to be nestled within the trees, the location of the old centre and car parks was damaging this sensitive area.
Izi Banton, estates and conservation manager at Sherwood Forest, said the areas where the buildings and car parks have been removed are already greening over.
“Thanks to the new fencing, our visitors will now be able to watch the recovery at closer quarters without impacting on it,” she said. “There won’t be lots to see immediately but already the trees are enjoying sun and light on trunks and branches that have been crowded by buildings for years.
“In time, it will be fascinating to watch how the forest regenerates and how much wildlife makes its home here.”
Alison Salvador, General Manager at Viridor Credits said, “It was almost a year ago that the RSPB first shared their vision for the completion of the restoration work proposed at part of the world-famous Sherwood Forest.
“We were all so impressed, not only by the ambitious plan to restore the area to wood pasture, heathland and grassland habitats but that the visitor centre would be such an accessible environment for everyone.
“Future events will ensure that the forest continues to be a wonderful place for education and recreation for many years to come whilst ensuring the natural habitat is protected. The Steering Group did not hesitate in awarding almost £50,000 to ensure that this work could be completed. We are immensely proud to be associated with the RSPB and look forward to visiting the site once the work has been completed”.
The funding success marks the end of the centre’s first full year under the management of the RSPB and partners, working together with Nottinghamshire County Council to ensure Sherwood Forest is cared for and protected for the future whilst helping 370,000 visitors enjoy visiting the iconic venue every year.
Senior site manager, Gemma Howarth, said it has been an incredible first year, with many highlights.
“I’m thrilled with the way my team has coped with the challenges of opening the new visitor centre and adapting to new ways of working at a site which is always busy, and where our visitors understandably have high expectations,” said Gemma.
“It has been a great year, but we’re always looking at ways to build on what we’ve done. We’re currently carrying out consultation work on new Robin Hood interpretation, which will allow our visitors to help shape the way we tell these wonderful stories going forwards.
“This is only possible with the fantastic support we get. The Woodland Trust and the Miner2Major scheme helped us fund the interpretation work, and more recently, we’re thrilled to receive the funding from Viridor Credits to protect the restoration work we are doing in the forest and at Budby.”
Following an official launch by the BBC’s The One Show naturalist presenter, Mike Dilger and Cllr Kay Cutts, MBE, leader of Notts County Council last October, the Sherwood team has had a busy 12 months, including:
- Winning four awards for the new visitor centre
- Managing the 35th Robin Hood Festival which attracted 35,000 visitors
- Incorporating more than 6,000 volunteer hours into its operation, offering unique experience and enrichment for many local people.
- Achieving accreditation from Visit England for the national nature reserve, and the Soil Association’s Food for Life for the café.
- Delivering the Major Oak Woodland Festival
- Welcoming almost 7,000 school children to learn about this ancient woodland.
Councillor John Cottee, Chairman of the Communities and Place Committee said: “370,000 people have enjoyed visiting Sherwood over the past year which is fantastic news for Nottinghamshire! I am delighted that our partnership with the RSPB is going from strength to strength and there are some exciting developments planned to enhance and protect the Forest for future generations to enjoy.
“I would encourage local residents and people from much further afield to visit and experience for themselves the magic of Sherwood Forest and the legend of Robin Hood.”
Partners in the consortium include Sherwood Forest Trust, Thoresby Estate and The Woodland Trust, working together with Nottinghamshire County Council. Besides funding from the county council, the RSPB and partners, D2N2 LEP also contributed £500,000 towards the £5 million visitor centre, along with £200,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation.