Wyre Forest has today become the largest woodland National Nature Reserve (NNR) in England. NNRs are designated by Natural England and are rare, precious areas which protect some of our country’s most important places for wildlife and geology.
The Wyre Forest reserve, which dates back to at least the year 900, has been extended by almost 900ha so that it now spreads over 1,455ha. This equivalent to 1700 football pitches. The forest, which straddles the Worcestershire and Shropshire border is managed by Natural England and Forestry England and includes Worcestershire Wildlife Trust land.
The nation’s forests play a vital role in tackling climate change and biodiversity loss as well as providing a source of sustainable, home-grown timber; carbon capture and places for people to enjoy. This extension recognises the importance of managing forests sustainably, so they have long-term, positive benefits for wildlife, people and the climate.
The Wyre Forest NNR features a diverse array of habitats from forest to open grassland meadows, old orchards and areas of scrub, to steep-sided valleys, created by geological faults. It is home to a vast array of wildlife including protected mammals, reptiles and birds. Its butterfly and moth populations are significant, with 58% of the UK’s butterfly species recorded here.
Kevin Stannard, forest management director, Forestry England’s West District, said: “Our nation’s forests play a critical role in tackling the climate crisis and biodiversity loss that we are seeing globally. Resilient woodlands, well-adapted to the changing climate conditions we now expect, help us capture carbon, improve air quality, create beautiful places for wildlife to flourish and opportunities for people to connect with the natural world.
“As the country’s largest land manager, Forestry England is working to grow our future by carefully planning and expertly managing world-class forests for future generations. Becoming the largest woodland National Nature Reserve in England is a recognition of the unique features that make Wyre Forest so special and the vital role this landscape plays in providing valuable habitats, a sustainable source of timber and a place for people to explore and enjoy.”