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People from all over the Marches are being urged to help decide the future of one of the region’s most popular landmarks.

On Thursday, August 21, Forestry Commission planners will be in Ludlow setting out their plans for the transformation of Mortimer Forest.

One of their key aims is to restore the existing conifer plantation to the type of native broadleaved woodlands that would have grown there in medieval times.

People attending the open event, at the Bishop Mascall Centre, will be able to put forward ideas of their own which they think ought to be included in the scheme.

Forester Alastair Semple, said: “It is essential that people know as much as possible about the plans being created for their forest.

“It is also crucial that they are involved in the decisions on a whole range of issues including recreational facilities, wildlife conservation and landscaping.

“Our event will be open from 2.30pm to 7.30pm. There will be plans and designs for visitors to inspect and forestry experts on hand for them to talk to.”

Mr. Semple said that the design plan would cover the whole of Mortimer Forest’s 1,100 hectares.

He said it would include improvement proposals for the existing woodland viewpoints at the Bringewood trigonometric point, and the ‘high seat’, on the High Vinnalls.

He added that those already involved in the debate over the forest’s future included local authorities, conservation bodies, local residents and businesses.

Today’s Mortimer Forest covers a total of 1,029 hectares with the bulk of its conifers having been planted in the 1920s and 50s in response to post-war timber crises.

Around 40 per cent of the forest was planted on the site of a semi-natural ancient woodland that would have stood there from the 1600s to the beginning of the 20th Century.

The new proposals include restoring 25 per cent (around 100 hectares) of the ancient woodland through the new planting and natural regeneration of native tree species.

Elsewhere in the medieval woodland site no more conifers will be planted.

The Forestry Commission’s design plan will cover the management of Mortimer Forest over the next ten years. Its effects will guide development of the woods over the next 50 years.

Anyone wanting information about the project should ring 01299 266302.

Details about the social, economic and environmental effects of woodland planning can be found on the web site.

For further information please contact Forestry Commission Area Forester, Richard Boles, on 01299 266302.