A new stamp collection featuring the UK’s diverse forest landscapes have been unveiled by the Royal Mail to mark 100 years of the Forestry Commission.
The stamp collection features six of the UK’s most stunning forests, including Scotland’s Glen Affric, Wales’ Coed y Brenin and Northern Ireland’s Glenariff Forest.
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The collection also sees Gloucestershire’s Westonbirt Arboretum, Nottinghamshire’s Sherwood Forest, and Northumberland’s Kielder Forest brought to life in vivid autumn colours.
The release coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Forestry Commission, which was founded after the First World War saw clearances of huge natural areas.
The following years have seen the Forestry Commission work to protect, improve and expand UK forests and woodlands through ongoing conservation work.
Philip Parker, Royal Mail, said: “On the Forestry Commission’s centenary these striking new stamps celebrate the beauty and tranquillity of our public woodlands, and the inspiring range of environments which receive hundreds of millions of visits each year.”
Other environmental benefits of UK forests include flood prevention and providing habitats for wildlife. Each provides a space for activities from walking and picnicking to birdwatching and mountain biking.
PK Khaira-Creswell, Director, Forestry Commission centenary, said, “Our centenary is all about inspiring people to share our passion for forests and help us protect and improve them for generations to come. We are proud to be custodians of these stunning landscapes, which are indispensable for people and wildlife.”
History of the UK’s forests
The first written evidence of forests designated as royal reserves comes from the Domesday Book of 1086, which recorded only about 25 of these sites. Most forests known today were established by the 13th century. When the Magna Carta was sealed in 1215, there were almost 150 forests in England alone, amounting to nearly a million acres.
Over time, the Crown relaxed its hold over the forests, and the local landowners and commoners usually came to mutually beneficial modes of forest governance and management.
In the early 20th century, extensive tree felling left the country’s timber resources severely depleted. The First World War in particular had a huge impact; by the end of it, with forests ravaged in support of the war effort, the UK’s woodland cover was at an all-time low of just five per cent. In response, the Forestry Act was passed, and in September 1919 the Government established the Forestry Commission, demonstrating its support for the creation of productive, state-owned forests to replenish the much-depleted supplies of home-grown timber.
The first Forestry Commission trees were planted in Devon’s Eggesford Forest in December 1919, and in the following years a large programme of land acquisition and tree planting took place across the UK. During the 1930s, the Commission’s estate grew to over 900,000 acres (364,217ha) across England, Scotland and Wales, while the demand for timber increased as tensions in Europe mounted once again. By the end of the Second World War, the country had consumed around a third of its timber supplies.
Glen Affric, Scotland
Glen Affric in Inverness-shire, is managed by Forestry and Land Scotland and is a fragment of the once extensive Caledonian Forest. Its rugged Scots pines and graceful birches are the signature trees in a landscape where forest, lochs, river and mountains combine to create the perfect Highland setting, which is breath-taking at any time of year but especially when the birches take on their golden apparel.
Kielder Forest, Northumberland
Kielder Forest in Northumberland is the largest human-made forest in Britain, stretching 250 square miles (647sq km); around 75 per cent is covered by trees. The Forestry Commission harvests around 500,000 cubic metres of timber here each year. The felled areas are replanted using a mixture of conifer and broadleaf trees, and parts are left open to create a diversity of habitats.
Coed y Brenin
Located near Dolgellau in the Snowdonia National Park, Coed y Brenin is now one of the flagship forests of Natural Resources Wales. Commercial softwood forestry across some 7,650 acres (3,093ha) of Forest Park combines with recreational facilities for mountain-bikers and a network of spectacular scenic trails for hikers, based around the impressive visitor centre.
Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire
Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire is famous for its rich assemblage of ancient oak trees, such as the Major Oak. The atmospheric image on the stamp shows a fine stand of conifers in the early morning light, reflecting the mixed planting found across the whole forest.
Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire
Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is the Forestry Commission’s flagship collection of trees in England. First created by the wealthy Holford family almost 200 years ago, it is one of the most beautiful and diverse botanical collections in the world. The 600-acre (243ha) site with 17 miles (27km) of paths showcases 3,000 tree species, including the Japanese maples seen on the stamp in autumnal colours.
Glenariff Forest, County Antrium
Managed by the Forest Service Northern Ireland, Glenariff Forest Park in County Antrim, boasts a beautiful mixture of views and trails that allow the visitor to enjoy a wide variety of walks and activities. Probably the most spectacular of these is the Waterfall Walk, a steep path up the vertical sides of the gorge and along elevated boardwalks taking in a succession of dramatic and world-famous waterfalls.
How to buy the stamps
The stamps can be pre-ordered now from www.royalmail.com/forests and by phone on 03457 641 641.
The stamps will go on general sale on 13 August from www.royalmail.com/forests and will be sold in 7,000 Post Offices throughout the UK.