Why Dennis Maps supports The Heart of England Forest Project

Saplings in the Heart of England Forest - Dennis MapsA fact you may not realise about Dennis Maps is that we are jointly owned by the Estate of Felix Dennis, operating for the benefit of the Heart of England Forest Registered Charity,  and Ordnance Survey, Britain’s mapping agency.

The Heart of England Forest is therefore a project very close to our hearts here at Dennis Maps. It was created by Felix Dennis, the self-made owner of Dennis Publishing, who began his colourful career selling copies of the underground magazine Oz on London’s Kings Road.

A natural entrepreneur, he pioneered computer and hobbyist magazine publishing in the UK, including the bestselling titles Maxim and The Week. He owned land in Warwickshire, and wanted to bring native broadleaf trees back to the local landscape and create woodland the public could enjoy, as well as provide an environment for wildlife.

Felix Dennis planted the first small wood near his home in Dorsington, Warwickshire, in 1996. His vision was to plant at least 300 acres each year to create a joined-up woodland.  The forest is mainly in South Warwickshire and stretches from the ancient Forest of Arden in Warwickshire to the edge of the Vale of Evesham. 

As a poet himself, Dennis no doubt appreciated that The Forest of Arden is the setting for Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It, and in Elizabethan times covered a vast area that included the sites of modern-day Birmingham and Coventry.

The Heart of England Forest Registered Charity was set up in 2003, and 2017 was a record-breaking planting season, with 185,000 trees planted over 272 acres.

The majority of trees are English oak and ash, and also include birch, cherry, hornbeam, sweet chestnut and rowan. They are planted in a random pattern in woodland blocks separated by wide rides during the planting season of mid November to March.

Forest walks - The Heart of England Forest - Dennis MapsThe charity now manages more than 3600 acres, including both ancient woodland and new areas for planting. There are already two easy walking trails of 1.5 and 3.5 miles that have been mapped out by the Head Forester through new broadleaf forest.

There are plans for off-road bike trails, woodland play areas and camping and a cafe and arts centre. A programme of events runs throughout the summer, including open days at The Garden of Heroes and Villains, a private sculpture garden commissioned by Felix Dennis at Dorsington. Over 50 bronze sculptures are set in grounds that also contain a yew hedge maze, poetry garden and woodland walks.

All funds raised from the sale of tickets to events supports the work of the charity in planting trees, creating wildlife habitats, and woodland education.

There are many ways you can get involved in the project. As a Friend of the Heart of England Forest, making a monthly donation from as little as £3, as a business providing team-building experiences for your staff, as a teacher bringing pupils on a school visit, or as a hands-on volunteer

The Heart of England Forest - Dennis MapsTo give you some idea how much your donation helps, just £5 pays for enough seed to plant a 100m square wild flower meadow in the forest. £60 buys 40 tree coils and stakes that provide protection from rabbit and deer damage and support saplings as they grow into beautiful mature trees.

A visit to the Heart of England Forest is the perfect opportunity to #GetOutside and enjoy all the benefits of spending time in the natural world, breathing fresh air, and taking gentle exercise.

And a step back in time to an age when Britain was still covered in native broadleaf forest. For more information about visiting and ways to participate, please visit the Heart of England Forest website.

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