The Woodland Trust has completed its purchase of land between Smalley and Mapperley which is to become the UK’s first Young People’s Forest.
The site, known as Mead, will see young people lead the creation of the forest, planting more than 250,000 trees to create a new wildlife habitat, visitor destination, events venue, and education centre.
Carol Honeybun-Kelly, who is leading the £4.7million project for the trust, said: “We’ve been fortunate to receive some generous funding, including £500,000 from Biffa Award and £500,000 from Pears Foundation.
“This has made it possible for us to acquire the final 300 acres this summer.”
As well as woodland, the 162 hectare site, a former opencast mine, is to be fringed with hedgerows and scattered with biodiverse ponds, open spaces and grassland.
It will connect with Shipley Country Park, and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Woodside Farm, to make more 500 hectares of wildlife friendly space for people to enjoy.
Coinciding with the breakthrough on the project, the trust has commissioned a survey which showed three quarters of young people want to get involved in fighting climate change.
Almost two thirds are interested in protecting birds and animals, 63 per cent in planting trees, and three quarters in reducing pollution and plastic waste. And nine out of ten young people nationally say they would visit the site.
Carol said: “We’re really pleased to see how willing young people are to visit the great outdoors and engage with the environment, particularly in light of climate change.
“Many want to make a difference and the Young People’s Forest is all about inspiring a new generation. The potential is terrific.”
The trust still has to raise a further £685,000 to realise all its ambitions for the project.
For more information, including details of events happening on the site every Friday in August such as yoga, bushcraft, fitness sessions and a family fun day, go to www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/ypf.