Ancient Oak, Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve

A new chapter for Sherwood Forest

One of the most well-known forests in the world is set to get an RSPB-led makeover.

A place of legends

Sherwood Forest is a place of legends, and as you wander through the dappled shade of the woodland the magic of this special place is palpable.

Here, amidst hundreds of other ancient trees, stands the Major Oak, a colossus of a tree whose gnarled boughs reach out from a trunk measuring a whopping 10 metres in girth.

This mighty tree is thought to be more than 1,140 years old, meaning that it has lived through the Norman Conquest and seen the rise and fall of all six of Henry VIII’s wives. Robin Hood is even said to have hidden from the Sheriff of Nottingham within the tree's huge canopy.

Whether the legendary outlaw and his band of merry men did indeed use this forest to escape capture we'll never know, but what we do know for sure is that Sherwood is an amazing place for wildlife.

Lesser spotted woodpeckers and redstarts nest in the cavities of the ancient trees, nightjars breed on the adjacent heathland, and rare invertebrates scuttle through the leaf litter.

The Major Oak in Sherwood Forest

A new gateway to the forest

The sheer variety of wildlife to be found in Sherwood Forest, coupled with its fascinating history, make it a popular tourist attraction with 350,000 people visiting every year.

Back in 2015 we received the exciting news that, together with our partners, we'd been given the go-ahead to build a new visitor centre and take over the management of an additional 183 hectares of Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve, bringing the total area in our care up to almost 400 hectares.

Since signing contracts with Nottinghamshire County Council we've been working hard alongside our partners to create plans for the new visitor centre and to engage local people.

We want to create a building that complements not just the natural landscape, but also the heritage of the site; a gateway to the forest where people can come together to learn more about Robin Hood’s home, connect with nature and make lots of new memories.

We were granted planning permission in early 2017 and will open the new visitor centre in summer 2018. The state-of-the-art building will include a shop, a café and an amphitheatre that will be used for events.

The reserve will also feature eye-catching interpretation to bring the forest's story to life for visitors. We hope that these impressive facilities will encourage more people to come and experience the forest's inspiring beauty for themselves.

Robin Hood statue in amongst trees at Sherwood Forest

Our vision for the future

While the new visitor centre will be a key part of Sherwood's makeover, our vision for the site extends well beyond it.

Once we take over management in 2018 we will protect the forest's precious ancient trees and thin areas of non-native conifers, which provide little benefit for woodland wildlife.

And over the long term, our ultimate aim is to link Sherwood Forest with other isolated woodlands as part of an ambitious programme to reconnect Britain's fragmented wild places, allowing wildlife the freedom to roam.

It's an incredibly exciting time for the RSPB and we feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity to be part of Sherwood's iconic history and to use our expertise to protect this special place for wildlife and future generations.

Sherwood Proposed visitors centre