We're planting trees and using woodlands to make life better for people and wildlife in the Marston Vale

The Forest of Marston Vale covers 61 square miles between Bedford and Milton Keynes which was a very different place before we came along. Massive pits had been dug throughout the countryside to supply Stewartby Brickworks with clay – many were then filled with waste and became landfill. Tree cover was a pitiful 3% - a third of the national average at the time.

There was smog from the chimneys; there were smells from the landfill. If you were driving through on the old A421, you’d do your car windows up.

Your Community Forest

To help the area recover from the effects of these industries, the Government designated the area as a Community Forest - one of 13 in the UK – in the early 90s. The idea was that planting trees and using woodlands would make life better for people, and wildlife.

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

We're also working to keep a balance between the environment and new developments like housing and warehouses. We’re working towards 30% tree cover, which is another 5 million trees. Every time a new development goes ahead we work hard to make sure that, overall, the environment benefits – aka there’s a net environmental gain.

The Forest area:

Map of the Forest

Check out our Forest Plan (2000)

Help us plant more trees

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You can choose to just hear about our events, or our campaigns and the work that we do locally. The more people that get involved, the quicker we'll be able to plant 5 million more trees and that can only be a good thing. Not just for the local area but for the planet. 

Money doesn't grow on trees - donate now

Land is expensive and managing woodlands is expensive. It isn't as simple as putting a tree in the ground and walking away - it costs £20 to plant one tree and look after it for 5 years. So trees don't cost the earth, but they might just save it.