HRH The Princess Royal planted tree to commemorate the Forest’s accreditation to Queen's Commonwealth Canopy

The Forest of Marston Vale is one of four Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy sites in the UK

HRH The Princess Royal visited the Forest Centre and Millennium Country Park on 30 July 2019 to dedicate the Forest of Marston Vale to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC).

Conceived in 2015, the QCC is a network of forest conservation initiatives involving all 53 countries of the Commonwealth.

HRH The Princess Royal planted a tree to commemorate the Forest’s accreditation to the project and unveiled a plaque in the Charity’s New Forest Shelter.

Her Royal Highness was accompanied on the visit by Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Colonel Chris Sharwood-Smith MBE. During the tour of the Park, The Princess met members of the Forest Team volunteers, and local school children taking part in forest school activities.

The Forest joins the ranks of only three other accredited forests in the UK. The others are the National Forest, Epping Forest and Wentworth in Wales.

Speaking after the visit, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis said:

“We are extremely proud of the Forest of Marston Vale and the huge impact it makes on our environment and the quality of our community life in Bedfordshire.

“It is a great privilege to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to visit this wonderful project and for her to dedicate the Forest of Marston as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.”

Grant Sorrell, director of the Forest of Marston Vale, said:

“Today’s visit was a huge honour and a fantastic recognition of everything the Charity’s staff and volunteers put into creating the Forest.

“I hope everyone living in the region will take pride in their Community Forest becoming part of an international initiative which recognises the importance of trees and forests for all our futures.”

The Forest of Marston Vale covers 15,799 hectares and is one of England’s 12 Community Forests. A tree-planting project in the Forest has a target to increase woodland cover to 30%.

In 1991, the Forest of Marston Vale had approximately 3% woodland cover. Since then, an additional 2817 acres has been planted with over 1.25 million trees, creating a number of new publicly accessible woodlands.

The canopy cover is now over 15% across the designated Forest of Marston Vale area. The aim is to plant another 5 million trees, creating a green heart of Bedfordshire.

Find out more at www.marstonvale.co.uk or www.queenscommonwealthcanopy.org