Alternative - Securing health benefits: 2011 Marston Vale, Community Forest

Community Forests cover large areas around the edges of towns and cities the challenge is to use trees and woodlands to transform 61 square miles between Bedford and Milton Keynes, repairing a landscape scarred by decades of clay extraction, brick making and landfill. The overall vision is to create well-wooded landscapes for wildlife, work and education, with new opportunities for recreation, all on the doorstep of half of Englandís population.

The project aims to achieve 30% woodland cover by securing opportunities as they arise, promoting stewardship of the land and obtaining the resources to deliver viable woodland creation and other countryside management projects to improve the landscape and physical links between the urban areas and sites within the Vale. Identifying and maximising the opportunities for attracting investment to the area including that from sponsorship, the Lottery, partnerships, grants, the private sector and landfill tax to deliver  the community forest and also to create jobs.

By promoting awareness and enjoyment of the countryside to help boost a sense of ownership and caring for the area. Through increasing the number of attractive spaces, places and routes for people to enjoy in the countryside of the Marston Vale on foot, cycle or horseback thereby promoting access for all.  

The Forest of Marston Vale began as a joint initiative of Bedfordshire County Council, Mid-Bedfordshire District Council, Bedford Borough Council, the Countryside Agency and the Forestry Commission. Originally the initiative was administered through Bedfordshire County Council with the Forest Team being employed by the authority. Following a successful bid from the Millennium Commission for the Millennium Country Park, it was decided to establish a charity - the Marston Vale Trust to hold the land and develop the site and Marston Vale Services Limited, a charitable trading company wholly owned by the Trust to run the centre and site.  This company operates the Millennium Country Park including the Forest Centre a purpose-built venue for conferences, seminars etc. Funds raised contribute to Forest work reducing reliance on external funding.

The Millennium Park has won the Green Flag award twice.

http://www.marstonvale.org/index.html
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