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Feeling Good in the Forest with Forestry England

All Images by Grace Taylorson Smith Pritchard for Forestry England

You might have seen on our social media some wonderful posts with rider Evie Richards, sharing her thoughts on the immense positive impact the forest has on her wellbeing. Well, these are all part of a current campaign from our A-TEAM programme partner Forestry England, which celebrates all the ways forests benefit our physical and mental wellbeing.

We thought it’d be a great time to catch up with some of the team at Forestry England to share how they came to be a crucial part of our partnership ecosystem. Read on to find out why taking care of our forests is taking care of ourselves too!

How did the partnership with Trash Free Trails come about?

We met Dom in Bristol back in 2019. As one of the largest managers of outdoor recreation, we were a good fit for Trash Free Trails with plenty of well-loved trails that need to be cared for as well as amazing locations for events. We have a lot of shared values not only around plastic pollution in the forest but around the experience of being in woodlands and connecting people to nature to embed a lifelong sense of responsibility. It was a good fit for a partnership!

Why is the work of organisations like Trash Free Trails important to Forestry England?

Forestry England want as many people as possible to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of spending time in forests.  But it is important that we all look after these special places. Organisations like Trash Free Trails are brilliant at inspiring people to take care of where they ride, run or roam.  By working with them we can ensure we communicate these messages in the right way to audiences that we know love spending time in our forests.  Their work to tackle Single-Use Pollution is really inspiring, and supports our work to protect our forests and the wildlife that live in them.  We want people to feel a deeper connection for the places they are in, to maximise the positive benefits that brings to wellbeing but also to ensure these places are cherished long into the future.

What have been some highlights of the partnership for Forestry England? (A-TEAM, potentially signpost to Feel Good in the Forest?)

It is brilliant to have access to a network of dedicated A-TEAM ambassadors who share our vision about the importance of taking care of forests. The A-TEAMers based around the Forest of Dean have hosted some awesome events. Meanwhile our own teams have gotten involved, such as hosting trail cleans at Dalby Forest, and supporting TrashMob Academy sessions at High Lodge in Thetford Forest for young people in Norfolk.

In addition to all this great site-based activity we have been able to do some excellent joint communications activity to help spread both organisations messaging wider. Our respective missions are so aligned in wanting to connect people to nature and encourage them to help look after these unique places that it’s allowed us to create a variety of inspiring and motivating content/videos over the past few years – together and more recently with some engaged ambassadors such as Evie Richards as well.  

What are some top tips Forestry England have for TrashMobbers wanting to explore their local forests?

Know before you go!  Before you visit, check out our website to find out what is available at the forest you want to visit in terms of facilities and also to see if there is anything else you need to know, such as diversions or closures from work in the forest. Our website is also a great source of information in terms of what to wear, equipment you might want to bring etc.  

Once you’ve arrived, we would recommend taking some time to work out the navigation of the site, follow signage on site and stick to waymarked trails.  And when you start exploring be mindful of other visitors. Our forests are for everyone and people visit for lots of different reasons, including cycling, walking, running, horse riding, getting out with their dogs and even to go on a segway!  We ask that our visitors respect each other so that forest visits can be fun and safe for all. 

And finally make sure you know the full offer. We have lots of visitors who come for a certain reason, but there is so much else on offer, so look for other ways you can enjoy the forest. And if you’re a regular visitor a top tip is to become a member. As well as free parking and a range of other benefits, membership means you get regular news and updates about our work and activities and it also means that you are supporting the forests you love to visit – win win! 

When it comes to tackling single-use pollution, what would Forestry England like to see from visitors in engaging with the issue?

One of the points in the Forest Code is ‘Take your litter home’, as it’s unpleasant for visitors to see rubbish in the forest and can also cause damage to the landscape and wildlife. On top of this we have made the decision to no longer allow single use barbeques in our forests, in the areas where barbeques are permitted. 

We’d also encourage visitors to use reusable items where possible for picnics, snacks and so on, as well as taking everything home with them, as a way for our visitors to reduce and minimise their impact on our forests and the environment.   

Learn more about how you can feel good in the forest here, and don’t forget to find your local forest!

Enjoy this post? Why not share it on your social media, so other TrashMobbers can hear more about our partnership ecosystem.

All Images by Grace Taylorson Smith Pritchard for Forestry England


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