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NEWS RELEASE No: 1660919 AUGUST 2016

Great news for autumn lovers - experts predict a dazzling display this year!

Japanese maples displaying stunning autumn colour on Pheasant Ride, Alice Holt Forest

This year we can expect a feast for our eyes as early as mid-September with impressive displays of vibrant autumn colours predicted by Forestry Commission England. This is great news for those who wish to give their wellbeing a boost before the winter months, with 96% of people saying that beautiful autumn colours improve their mood in a recent survey!

Many of us were left feeling soggy at the start of the year and data from the Met Office confirms that parts of England experienced a wet spring, with rainfall 30% above average in the east and south.

However, rain twinned with plenty of sunshine is a promising recipe for a spectacular show of seasonal colour in England’s woods and forests. Perfect for the 68% of you that voted autumn as your favourite season in a recent survey carried out by Forestry Commission England.

Andrew Smith, the Forestry Commission’s Director at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum in Gloucestershire explains:

“The abundance of rain we experienced in spring, coupled with above average sunshine has meant a great growing season for trees as it allows them to build up plenty of sugars in their leaves. It is these sugars that produce the rich autumnal colours when they are absorbed back into the tree to help them survive winter”

“Autumn’s foliage displays are certainly affected by the weather and this year we have our fingers crossed that it should be good for producing a great autumnal colour display. It will depend a bit on the weather in September but the ground work has been laid for a good show.”

Colour change starts to occur as the days become shorter and the evening temperatures are cooler. At this time the green chlorophyll in the leaves starts to disappear, exposing the yellow and orange hues. Sunny weather concentrates the sugar in the leaf which speeds up the appearance of red hues.

Smith continues:

“This year we predict that whilst we may see autumn colours from mid-September onwards, if the weather remains fairly dry then they will be at their best from mid to late October. If we experience a mild autumn we will also see prolonged colour way into November”.

“It is always entertaining trying to predict when autumn will fall and is something we indulge in every year at Westonbirt using past records and our experience built up over many years! However, we can never give a totally accurate prediction as nature has a habit of doing the unexpected. A harsh storm or a severe frost can easily put an end to a great autumn show.”

To celebrate the start of nature’s most colourful season Forestry Commission England has created a ‘Colour me Happy’ trail. With lots of fun activities to help discover the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of autumn, the trail is designed to get you outside this autumn with a big colourful bang!

During the season, Forestry Commission England is also encouraging visitors to woods and forests to document their autumn discoveries by posting images of autumnal colour on social media channels using the hashtag #autumnleafwatch.

For more information about exploring England’s national woods and forests this autumn, visit


Notes to editors

  1. Andrew Smith is the new director of Westonbirt, the National Arboretum. He has worked for the Forestry Commission for 26 years he trained in Forestry at Bangor University and has held a number of senior management roles with the Forestry Commission in Yorkshire and at National Office.

  2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment.

    England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.
  3. Survey results are from recently online survey that was conducted by Forestry Commission England. It was completed by 1686 people.
  4. Forestry Commission England’s top 10 #colourmehappy walks,    
  • Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire: Symonds Yat
  • Grizedale Forest: Carron Crag
  • Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire: Maple loop in Silk Wood
  • New Forest, Hampshire: Tall Trees trail
  • Alice Holt, Surrey: Arboretum tree trail
  • Delamere Forest, Cheshire: Blakemere trail
  • Bedgebury Pinetum, Kent: Seasonal trail
  • Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk: Seasonal trail
  • Wyre Forest, Shropshire: The Giants Trail
  • Hamsterly Forest, Durham: Bedburn Valley trail

5. The Forestry Commission Discovery Pass gives free parking for the year for your local Forestry Commission Woodland, plus a range of other great discounts. Further information can be found at

Media contact: Rebecca Ulewicz, Media Relations Officer: or 0300 0674107