Planting trees and using woodlands to make life better for people and wildlife in the Marston Vale

The Forest of Marston Vale is the 61 square miles between Bedford and Milton Keynes which was a very different place before we came along. When the Forest of Marston Vale was setup in the early 1990s, Stewartby Brickworks and numerous landfill sites dominated the area – across our 61 square miles we had a pitiful 3% tree cover (a third of the national average at the time).

We are a Community Forest – one of 12 in the UK - setup in the early 1990s to transform landscapes and improve the prospects of overly industrial areas, like the Marston Vale. The idea was that planting trees and using woodlands would make life better for people, and wildlife, in these areas.

What do we want to achieve?

Our ultimate goal is 30% tree cover but it’s about much more than that. We want the Forest to be a place defined by the trees and woodlands covering 30% of its 61 square miles – where communities, businesses and the environment thrive alongside each other, in a sustainable, balanced way. We want people to be proud to live, work and play in the Forest.

Map of the Forest

Why trees?

Trees make life better for all of us – for people, for wildlife and for the planet. They help to cool and clean our air, lock up carbon, reduce flooding, provide sustainable raw materials, and are our best hope in combatting the climate crisis. Creating the Forest has given hundreds of thousands of people more woodlands and green spaces to explore and enjoy, helping to improve their physical and mental health.

Since we started creating the Forest, we’ve planted over 2 million trees which has not only made the area a better place to live, work and spend leisure time but the work we’ve done to create new woodlands and bring other woodlands into management has created jobs, brought millions in investment to the area and actually saved the NHS money. We didn’t manage all of this alone – we’ve worked with local businesses, authorities, schools and national partners to get to where we are today. Thankfully we’ve come across many like-minded people and companies who share our vision for the area.

See the difference we make


How you can help

To get to 30% tree cover, we need to plant another 5 million trees and that’s where you come in. Back when the Forest began, we received funding to keep things moving, but now we rely almost entirely on donations from the public and money made at the Forest Centre & Millennium Country Park - our flagship site.

We do a lot of stuff so it can be easy to forget sometimes that it’s all about the trees. Just remember whenever you visit the Forest Centre or an event, any money you spend helps us plant more trees and look after our woodlands.

Banner image by Rob Felton

Fundraise for us, plant trees with us – tell everyone you know what we’ve done so far to improve the local area. Whether you live or work in the Forest, or visit for fun, be a part of the creation and future of the Forest of Marston Vale. Love your Forest!

If you like what we've done with the place, please make a donation so that we can carry on doing what we're doing!

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