“What men call impossible, very rarely is so.”
John Evelyn, the father of British forestry
What is The Heart of England Forest Charity?
The Heart of England Forest Ltd. is a UK registered charity founded in April 2003.
Its mission is “the plantation, re-plantation, conservation and establishment of trees for the benefit of the public, together with the education of the public by the promulgation of knowledge and the appreciation of trees”.
The charity at present employs no full time staff, but has been very active nonetheless. It currently owns and manages over 500 acres of woodland, much of it newly-planted.
How can the charity operate effectively with no full time employees?
To save on administration costs in these early years, Felix Dennis employs and provides the services of our head forester, Stephen Coffey; David Bliss, estate manager for Dorsington Farms; Kathy and Jeremy Collins, who help to keep our books and records and assist with our educational centre; together with other estate and private office employees who work with the charity in various capacities.
Volunteers and seasoned professional are brought in during tree-planting season.
“So far, we have planted an area about the size of five Hyde Parks.”
Who are the trustees of the charity?
Its trustees are: David Bliss, an estate manager who has advised several of the largest estates in Britain; Anthony Burton, senior partner in the law firm Simons, Muirhead and Burton; Felix Dennis; his brother Julian Dennis; Ian Leggett, a chartered accountant with many years experience in commercial and charitable endeavours; Alison Hunter, a HR professional with experience in charity and Corporate Social Responsibility activities.
None of the trustees at this time are paid for their services, in order to keep administration costs low.
What happens to any money I donate?
All money donated to The Heart of England Forest charity is spent on growing and purchasing saplings, on nurturing, planting and protecting trees, and on purchasing new land for the charity to plant as woodland in the future.
Not one penny of your donation will be wasted.
What are the biggest challenges the project and charity face?
There are two really substantial challenges.
The first, of course, is funding. While Felix Dennis has pledged his fortune to The Heart of England Forest and the project generally, no one can predict just how much this will amount to.
To purchase the necessary land in order to plant and maintain a viable 30,000 acre forest will cost more than £200 million in capital expenditure alone – and a great deal more than that will be needed to provide future funding for management of the forest, the welfare of its wildlife and facilities for visitors.
There is simply no cheap way or quick fix to ensure the establishment of a viable native forest.
And the other major challenge?
The complexity of joining up various parcels of woodland purchased by the project and the charity, whether bare land for planting or existing woodland, is a major challenge.
We expect some Heart of England Forest corridor woodland to be little more than linear woods, scarcely a field or two wide, leading from parts of the forest that are thousands of acres in extent, to others of more modest size.