Page last updated at 12:44 GMT, Sunday, 15 November 2009

New forest plans given go-ahead

England's largest new native forest will soon be growing in Hertfordshire.

Plans to plant 650,000 trees at the 850 acre Heartwood Forest site near St Albans have been given the go-ahead by the Forestry Commission.

The Woodland Trust bought the land in July 2008 for the £8.5m project to create new woodland.

The site, which already has some ancient woodland, will be planted with native trees and shrubs, including oak, hornbeam, wild cherry and blackthorn.

The Forestry Commission approved a detailed environment statement which covered archaeology, wildlife, impact on the local population, access, education and the involvement of the community in creating the forest.

Our environment statement consent by the Forest Commission was a culmination of comments, opinions and consideration of issues, raised with the local population and a wide range of organisations to help shape proposals
Toby Bancroft, Heartwood's project manager

The trust's survey highlighted evidence of the land's history stretching from prehistoric times and including barrows, a Roman road and coins, cannon balls and a post-Medieval workhouse, windmills and school.

They said archaeological areas would be avoided in the tree planting.

Plans also include open meadows, hedgerows and an orchard.

Later in November the trust will hold a ceremony to mark the planting of the first trees on the site.

Toby Bancroft, Heartwood's project manager, said: "It is just brilliant news that we can now get on with this amazing project.

"Our environment statement consent by the Forest Commission was a culmination of comments, opinions and consideration of issues, raised with the local population and a wide range of organisations to help shape proposals.

"It represented a broad concept, tackling landscape, habitat creation options and the visual impact of our new forest, and we can now get on and refine those proposals and start making things happen."



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