About Sherwood Forest
Centuries in the making, the legend of Sherwood continues to grow, with every generation adding to its legacy.
Today, the forest is a magical destination for everyone who wants to enjoy this beautiful ancient woodland and the diverse flora and fauna that lives here. It is also, of course, home to the enduring legend of Robin Hood. For the 350,000 people who come to Sherwood Forest each year, we seek to make every one of those visits just a little bit magical…
Here you’ll find 375 hectares in our part of the National Nature Reserve, which is home to hundreds of species of bird, insect, mammal, fungi, tree and plant. Wooded for centuries, and once part of a vast royal hunting ground, Sherwood’s a unique place to visit, boasting hundreds of ancient oaks thriving here for more than 500 years, including the legendary Major Oak, estimated to be around 1,000 years old.
Robin Hood – Sherwood’s legend
Sherwood Forest has, for centuries, conjured up visions of its most famous resident – Robin Hood. At the heart of Sherwood’s legend, Robin and his merry men defend the rights of the poor, fool the law and hide out in amongst the forest’s famous oaks – a legend that has constantly adapted since the late medieval age, but has always endured. Tales of Robin Hood and his heroic acts still bring an air of magic to the woodlands he is said to have roamed. Maybe he still does…
Who lives here?
Apart from the legend of Robin Hood? Amongst many other wonderful things, the jewel in our crown is the collection of ancient oaks – almost 1,000 of them, making this the biggest and best place to find these trees in Europe.
There’s also some amazing invertebrate species and birds like the lesser spotted woodpecker and tree pipit. All of this, and the fact that it’s one of the best surviving examples of oak-birch woodland in the UK, make Sherwood a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) protected under European law. As a unique habitat, much of what thrives here is rarely seen outside the forest, and even here some of our more elusive species are hard to spot, making sightings all the more exciting and memorable.
Plans for the future of the forest
In 2015, the RSPB was selected by Nottinghamshire County Council to manage the Sherwood Forest site, a country park at the time, on behalf of, and in partnership with them. Other partners include The Sherwood Forest Trust, Thoresby Estate and The Woodland Trust. Together with a shared goal, this team will protect, conserve and enhance the ecology of the forest, promote this magical place to a national and international audience, and enrich the experience of visitors, who will continue to be able to enjoy the forest for free.
Restoring the former visitor centre site
Currently, we are carrying out the restoration of the old visitor centre site. This includes removing the old buildings and car parks very sensitively, to avoid any damage to the nearby trees, some of which are more than 500 years old. This is a Special Area of Conservation and also a Site of Special Scientific Interest – designations given to areas of real natural importance. Our ancient oak trees need greater protection, which is why the visitor centre had to be relocated away from the forest. The proximity of the old buildings, the car parks and the volume of visitors was all having a detrimental effect on the trees.
Once cleared, from April 2019, our conservation team will then begin work on restoring the site to wood pasture, with some heathland and acid grassland, typical of how it would once have looked – maybe even how Robin Hood would have remembered it! This will help create new homes for wildlife as well as four acres of extra forest for our visitors to explore and enjoy!
You can find out more in our latest news stories.