Woodland Trust - our history

We've come so far, from a single wood to becoming the UK's largest woodland conservation charity.

Credit: David Noton Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Credit: David Noton Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

From little acorn to mighty oak - look how we've grown since 1972


Ken Watkins and friends get together at his Devon home to discuss the plight of ancient woods and the Woodland Trust is born.


Ancient Avon Woods in Devon becomes the Woodland Trust’s first wood and is saved from clear-felling and replanting with conifers.


The Trust is now the proud owner of 22 woods covering 189 hectares in six counties.


The Woodland Trust relocates its headquarters to its current home – the market town of Grantham in Lincolnshire and introduces membership.


Coed Lletywalter, 38 hectares of ancient woodland and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the Snowdonia National Park, becomes the Trust’s first Welsh wood.


We’re 10 years old – and look how we’ve grown! We’re now a UK-wide charity with 20,000 members and 80 woods under our care and protection.


We’ve now inspired 50,000 people to stand up for UK woods, trees and wildlife with us and join the Woodland Trust family as members.


Staff numbers reach 50 people


Trenant Wood, near Looe in Cornwall, becomes our 500th wood.


It’s our 21st birthday and we celebrate by buying our largest ever site, 711-hectare Ledmore and Migdale Woods in the Highlands.


Kenneth Watkins dies after a short illness aged 86. One of his obituaries described him as “a tough, singled-minded decision taker – but full of kindness and compassion”.
That same year, Glen Finglas near Callendar Stirling, in the heart of Scotland’s first National park, takes the crown of the Trust's largest site at over 4,000ha, purchased thanks to a £1.4 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant. The Woodland Trust is set up in Northern Ireland, with its office based in Bangor, County Down.


A grand total of 250 celebratory millennium woods are created across the UK to celebrate the new millennium.


Woodland Trust membership swells to 100,000 people across the UK.


By the time our 30th birthday dawns, we’ve planted more than five million trees and own more than 1,100 woods.


Government plans to dispose of Forestry Commission land puts ancient woodland protection in the spotlight. We move swiftly and our campaign helps block the move. Membership reaches 200,000 for the first time.


Our Jubilee Woods project is launched to celebrate HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.


On our 40th anniversary we celebrate the planting of 16 million trees and ownership of 1,276 woods.


We commemorate 100 years since the First World War with the creation of four centenary woods – one each for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.


James Dodd becomes our 250,000th member after joining with his family.


Ben Shieldaig – our first mountain – is acquired, thanks to a hugely successful fundraising appeal


As we turn 50, we are proud to have inspired 500,000 people from the UK and beyond to be a member or supporter of the Woodland Trust, to care for more than 1,000 free, public woods and have got more than 50 million trees growing.

50 years and still growing

Today, although the threats to woodland have changed, they are just as significant. And our vision for a UK rich in woods and trees for people and wildlife is as relevant as ever.

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Protecting woods

We've saved 1,172 woods from destruction since 1999 alone and are restoring 34,000 hectares of precious ancient woodland so that it will flourish once again.

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Expanding tree cover

We've planted 50 million trees since 1972 and we're aiming to get 50 million more in the ground over the next five years.

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Standing up for woods and trees

We have 500,000 members and supporters and more than 1,000 woods of our own which are free to visit anytime.

Support us

50th Birthday Appeal

Donate to the most urgent and important appeal we have ever launched and help us take the fight for nature and climate to a new level.  

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