Help stop the spread of coronavirus. Stay home, stay safe – please do not come to our forests - Read our COVID-19 guidance

COVID-19 coronavirus - information for everyone

Updated 7th April 2020

Help stop the spread of coronavirus. 
Stay home, stay safe – please do not come to our forests.   

The most important thing for Forestry England is to keep the public and our staff safe. The government has said the best way to protect yourself and others from illness is to stay at home. That’s why we have asked you not to travel to the nation’s forests and we are closing car parks where it’s possible  and practical to do so.   

We understand that people will want to go outside to enjoy the warmer weather predicted for this weekend and beyond but we must keep up our efforts to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.

However, exercise is still important for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, so the government has said people can leave their homes for exercise once a day. Please use the following guidance in order to stay safe: 

  • stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily   

  • you should only go outside alone or with members of your own household  

  • keep at least 2 metres apart from anyone outside your household at all times  

  • if walking your dog in areas used by other people, you should walk your dog on a lead to ensure you can safely keep two metres away from others. 
  • gatherings of more than two people in parks or other public spaces have been banned and the police will enforce this  

  • if you have a garden, make use of the space for exercise and fresh air  

  • take hygiene precautions when you are outside, and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors  

Please help and respect us as we do the essential work we need to in the nation's forests.  

 

Car parks  

Please do not travel by car to our forests. We have closed our car parks where it’s possible and practical to do so. Please do not park on verges or private property and do not block gateways. 

 

Safety   

If you decide you can do your daily exercise in a forest following the new rules above, please do everything you can to stay safe and leave the emergency services to tackle crime and COVID-19. 

 

Look after yourself at home   

The government has published the following advice:   

Understandably, you may find that social distancing can be boring or frustrating. You may find your mood and feelings are affected and you may feel low, worried or have problems sleeping and you might miss being outside with other people.   

At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse. There are simple things you can do that may help, to stay mentally and physically active during this time such as:   

  • look for ideas of exercises you can do at home on the NHS website.  

  • spend time doing things you enjoy – this might include reading, cooking, other indoor hobbies or listening to the radio or watching TV programmes.  

  • try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs.  

  • keep your windows open to let in fresh air, get some natural sunlight if you can, or get outside into the garden.  

You can also go for a walk or exercise locally outdoors once a day, if you stay more than two metres from others not in your household.   

Sign up to our emails for the latest information, inspiration and activities while you are at home at forestryengland.uk/signup 

 

Working forests   

Wood products such as wood pallets and packaging support the COVID-19 response. Our forests supply timber to make those things so we are keeping our forests working safely.      

 

Monitoring the situation   

We always put staff and public safety first. We are monitoring the situation closely and will change what we are doing if necessary.  

 

FAQ's 

Can people still use Forestry England mountain bike trails? 

We are asking visitors to stay home and not to travel to the nation’s forests but, within the new rules, people can use the local woods and greenspace close to home, accessed by foot or cycling.  However this is a time for calm recreation, not for challenging yourself. Now, more than ever, we must ride our bikes responsibly. 

This means only going out once a day, on your own, or with people you live with. Keep more than two metres apart from anyone you meet, stop and wait for people to pass when necessary.   With our health and emergency services under such intense pressure please only ride on routes you know well, that are well within your ability level. Let someone know where you are going and wearing appropriate protective equipment such as a helmet. 

Where we have closed trails, please adhere strictly to the closure notices.  

Read British Cycling guidance 

 

Can I walk my dog in the nation’s forests? 

When exercising your dog, please use safe and suitable greenspaces close to your home. If you live within walking distance, and can access the forest safely, you’re welcome to do so to walk your dog as part of ‘once-a-day' exercise. 

You may need to change the times and locations of where you go to comply with social distancing rules of staying at least 2 metres from other people. If walking your dog in areas used by other people, you should walk your dog on a lead to ensure you can safely keep two metres away from others.  

Read Kennel Club dog owners guidance 

 

Can I exercise my horse in the nation’s forests? 

When exercising your horse, please use safe and suitable greenspaces close to your home or livery yard. If you live within riding distance, and can access the forest safely, you’re welcome to do so. 

The British Horse Society strongly advises that it is not appropriate to put unnecessary pressure on the emergency services and everyone should make their own individual decision as to whether riding is necessary, if at all, at this time. 

Read The British Horse Society guidance on coronavirus for riders 
 

Get in touch  

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us via our website.