Logo minTrees make life better

Planting trees and using woodlands to make life better for people and wildlife in the Marston Vale.

The Forest of Marston Vale is the 61 square miles between Bedford and Milton Keynes which was a very different place years ago. Massive pits had been dug throughout the countryside to supply Stewartby Brickworks with clay – many were then filled with waste and became landfill. Tree cover was a pitiful 3% - a third of the national average at the time. 

To help the area recover from the effects of these industries, the Government made the area a Community Forest - one of 12 in the UK – in the early 90s. The idea was that planting trees and using woodlands would make life better for people, and wildlife.

Now that the area is greener the challenge is keeping the balance between the environment and new developments like housing and warehouses. Marston Vale is working towards a 30% tree cover, which is another 5 million trees. Every time a new development goes ahead they work hard to make sure that, overall, the environment benefits – aka there’s a net environmental gain. Read more https://www.marstonvale.org/


12 woodland sites planted  + 2,000,000 trees planted  4,917 tonnes of carbon removed from the atmosphere yearly

Matchstick minWhy Partner With Marston Vale?

Our trees and green spaces are under threat from development, population growth, and an ever-increasing burden of human demand. The Forest of Marston Vale is planting, managing, and protecting woodland stocks locally. You can make a difference by supporting them as an individual, family, or company. There are lots of ways to support the Forest of Marston Vale as a partner:

- Attend and support events
- Walk, re-wild yourself, and get close to nature
- Tree planting and environmental
- Charity fundraising and donations
- Corporate team-building with a difference

Canoe Trail has worked hand in hand with the Forest of Marston Vale for many years helping raise funds, get young people into the outdoors, and through publicity of their woodland and green spaces. Each year we have helped with:

- Magazine coverage including Lonely Planet, Red Bull Magazine, Bushcraft and Survival Skills Magazine, and Paddler
- Getting thousands of young people into woodland and nature-based activities through programmes such as the Duke of Edinburgh and Adventure School
- Donating funds each year to the charity
- Raising awareness through word of mouth and publicity campaigns in newsletters and social media
- Acting as MC for charity auction events and providing prizes


1,936 young people engaging in the great outdoors  19 river clean-ups  2,944 hours working with the local community

Why woodland management is so important

We often get asked why, as an environmental charity that plants trees, we can sometimes be seen to cut them down. The answer is simple…it’s about woodland management. So why then does a woodland need to be managed – surely trees just grow by themselves? Well, yes they do, but trees are just like us humans. A baby will grow without love and attention, but he/she probably won’t grow into a healthy, well balanced adult. It’s the same for trees, a sapling with nurture and good management has a greater chance of maturing into a strong, healthy tree.

When we plant a new woodland, we expect to lose an average of 10% of the saplings we plant, through natural causes. So we plant extra saplings to take this into account. After 10-15 years, we thin the trees, removing the less healthy ones, giving the stronger ones greater access to nutrients and space to grow. This thinning process also reduces the canopy cover of the trees, letting more light in, which then encourages different plant species to flourish on the woodland floor. The more plant species there are within the woodland, the more diverse animal species it will support and provide homes for - one mature oak tree can host up to 500 different species! There is also natural regeneration in a healthy woodland, with new trees springing up from the seeds that fall and germinate. So to create a healthy woodland, management is essential.Looking at tree min

To sum up the benefits of woodland management there are:

  • Economic benefits as the wood cut down can be used for timber and fuel. This is a sustainable and ethical way to produce timber, not the mass cutting down of woodlands and forests that we see around the world. Also, well-seasoned (good quality and dry) wood is a low cost and efficient fuel with less harmful emissions. At the Forest we have a growing firewood enterprise, where we process the wood we’ve cut and then sell it – with all the profits going back into the Charity to help us to look after our woodlands and plant more trees.
  • Social benefits arise from managed woodlands as they are easy to access, so give lots of opportunities for recreation for the local community.
  • Environmental benefits as a managed woodland produces far greater biodiversity. Every species has a key role to play in our planet’s eco-system, so the more plant and animal life our woodlands support – the better it is for all of us!

Help Marston Vale plant more trees