Wednesday 21 March is the United Nations International Day of Forests, a day celebrating and raising awareness of the importance of forests around the world.
As you can imagine, at Forest Holidays we are focused on protecting our national forests here in the UK. When we consider that more than 50% of the Earth's natural forests have already been destroyed, every effort to restore and care for them is more important than ever.
We know that our guests value the forest for the tranquillity they experience, away from the hustle of daily life, the fun to be had, and the beautiful nature they see around them; the wildflowers, the stunning scenery and the magical wildlife.
While you're enjoying the forest, you might not realise that you're also helping to keep it healthy and growing.
The more you visit the forest, the better it grows
The Forestry Commissions of England and Scotland, and Natural Resources Wales, play an important role in sustaining the nation's forests, which includes replanting, harvesting and protecting the trees from disease. They also welcome visitors to the forests, with thousands of trails, cycle routes, bridle paths and visitor centres.
Of course, managing the forest requires a lot of funding. In the 1960's, the Forestry Commission opened the first cabins for holidaying families - and thus began Forest Holidays. Now we contribute £2 million every year to support their work, which is only possible because of you, our guests.
This allows us to fund woodland management initiatives which the Forestry Commission alone has not got the funds to achieve. Good examples of this are managing hazel coppice for the benefit of dormice at Blackwood Forest and managing the vegetation alongside our woodland rides and tracks for butterflies and reptiles. We work in partnership with local Forestry Commission teams to carry out much of this work.
Learning about nature the life of the forest
Another aspect to supporting the forest is in understanding how it provides a home for wildlife, insects, and plant life. As more forest is destroyed, more species become endangered.
We've worked with a number of local and national campaigns to help rare and endangered species, such as barn owls, hedgehogs and pine martens. By supporting scientific studies, we can help monitor threatened species, such as various butterflies and birds, and our family of pine martens at Strathyre has inspired us to support a study into the possibility of re-establishing the species in England.
Stay at Forest Holidays and you can discover the nature around you with the help of our team. Each location has a dedicated Forest Ranger, an expert in the local wildlife, who helps adults and children discover facts about the life of the forest, learn about the flora and fauna and even spot nocturnal wildlife.
Many of our Forest Rangers are active in the local community too, visiting local schools and providing forestry workshops. By teaching children, and adults, to build bug hotels and care for animal habitats, our Forest Rangers help the next generation take a step forward to understanding the importance of looking after our natural environment.
Forests are good for your health
With its theme of Forests and Sustainable Cities, International Day of Forests 2018 aims to help communities understand the importance of trees to urban living; cleaning and cooling the air, reducing noise pollution, filtering, and regulating water and improving the local climate.
But spending time in the forest enhances our lives in other ways as well. The physical health benefits of escaping to the woodlands for fresh air and exercise are obvious.
Immersing yourself in the forest also benefits your overall wellbeing. Our Forest Rangers at Blackwood Forest and Thorpe Forest are qualified Forest Therapy guides, who can take you on a Forest Bathing experience that can boost your immune system, lower stress and give you a greater sense of calm.
Growing forests for our future
Over 25 years ago, a decision was made to increase the forested area of England, focused on 200 square miles of the Midlands. This area is now known as the National Forest, and since 1991 it has grown the average woodland cover in the area from 6% to over 20%.
The National Forest is our charity partner at Forest Holidays and our team are active in supporting its growth, participating in tree planting, raising funds through donations and taking part in woodland management days. It is inspiring to see how the landscape has transformed from former colliery workings, open cast coal mines and aggregate extraction to new woodlands that local communities and visitors to the forest can enjoy.
Celebrate International Day of Forests
Our passion is delivering eco-friendly holidays that create special memories for our guests, and in turn, help to sustain the beautiful natural surroundings for generations to come.
Each location is carefully designed to be in harmony with the forest around it. Our cabins fit into the landscape, built around the existing trees. In fact, you're likely to find one growing right through your decking.
We use sustainable wood for our cabins, promote recycling and low energy usage, and avoid light pollution.
Feeling inspired? Tell your friends and family about International Day of Forests 2018 and help increase awareness of the vital role forests play in our lives and our health – and the vital role we all play in the health of our forests.