What's going on How we've improved Bedfordshire Brilliant Bedfordshire As a lifelong Bedfordshire resident, I know full well the struggle of explaining to people where it is. You start confidently; very quickly resort to saying ‘Luton airport?’ and eventually settle with ‘kinda north of London’. But there is so much more to Bedfordshire – anyone who lives here or has been here for longer than a stop off at the airport can testify to that. We’ve got a lot of history – people come from all over the world to see the John Bunyan Trail (Bedfordshire Day is on his birthday); Luton Hoo was a favourite stopover for the Queen and Prince Philip in the early years of their marriage and one of Henry VIII’s many wives Catherine of Aragon lived in Ampthill (at the site of Catherine’s Cross) for many years with the King as a regular visitor. We have two airports, a direct train line to London, and the M1…the only thing we don’t have much of is seaside. Something the others don't have... But most importantly Bedfordshire has something that no surrounding counties have – us. A community Forest, spanning 61 square miles from Bedford to Milton Keynes. Since the early 1990s, we’ve planted over 2 million trees to transform the landscape and improve the prospects of the Marston Vale, making it a better place to live work and play. Here’s a map of our area so you can see the scope of where we are: By creating the Forest so far, we’ve generated benefits with an annual value of £12.83 million to the area (which is hundreds of millions of pounds over the course of time we’ve been operating). From creating 1750 football pitches worth of woodland, to taking the equivalent carbon emissions of 2000 family cars (every year) out of the atmosphere - the work we’ve done has made a huge impact on the area. We have even saved the NHS an estimated £4.95m a year through the associated health benefits of those 2 million trees, and we still want to plant another 5 million. A Forest for everyone We haven’t done this solely for the people who visit our sites – our vision is to plant trees and use woodlands to make life better for all people and wildlife in the Marston Vale, which obviously benefits the whole county. So if you’re a Bedfordshire resident, make sure you spread the word about us this Bedfordshire Day (28th Nov) – whether you’re from the other side of the county, or the heart of the Forest. Hopefully, in hundreds of years when all 5 million (or, hopefully, more) trees are mature and covering a large chunk of future Bedfordshire, people will look at the history books and not even be able to imagine a time before we existed! If you donate to the Forest of Marston Vale you can help us to achieve our goal of another 5 million amazing, air cleaning, flood reducing, health improving trees in Bedfordshire!