|Artist's impression of how the visitor centre might look|
AN upbeat note has been sounded by the RSPB on its proposed visitor centre at Sherwood Forest, one of the most well-known forests in the world.and famously home to the legendary outlaw Robin Hood.
The charity is leading a group also including the Sherwood Forest Trust, Continuum Attractions and Thoresby Estate as part of a £5.3-million investment programme "to provide an excellent visitor experience".
Nottinghamshire County Council will remain responsible for the current visitor facilities and the forest until the new reserve and visitor centre opens next year.
Around 350,000 people visit the world-famous Sherwood Forest country park each year.
Much of the surviving ancient woodland was originally part of a royal hunting forest.
Says a spokesperson: "The new centre will provide superb facilities and inspire visitors to enjoy and celebrate Sherwood’s woodland, wildlife and heritage.
"The project will also involve managing the stunning ancient woodland within Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve which contains more than 1,000 ancient oaks, many in excess of 500 years old.
"The most famous, the Major Oak, is thought to be nearly twice that old, and was crowned England’s tree of the year in 2014.
"According to local folklore, this 23-ton oak offered shelter to Robin Hood and his gang of outlaws."
"The woodlands provide a haabitat for lesser spotted woodpeckers, marsh and willow tits and hawfinches, while nightjars and woodlarks make their home on adjacent heathland.
"Sadly, since Robin Hood's time Sherwood's woodlands have shrunk and become separated, while the heathland has decreased by 95 per cent over the past 150 years.
"Working with our partners, the RSPB will identify ways of creating new habitat in the best locations - making the existing areas larger and better joined up."
Image above :JDDK Architects