Call of the wild: Michaela Strachan rallies public to discover forest wildlife

The Forestry Commission is inviting people to join the largest ever survey of England’s forest wildlife

The Big Forest Find is taking place in the nation’s forests, as volunteers and visitors embark on a journey of discovery through England’s wooded landscapes. The project is launched as part of the Forestry Commission centenary in 2019.

From birds and butterflies to insects and plant life on the forest floor, the information recorded will paint a better picture of England’s forest biodiversity today.

With wildlife facing challenges including climate change, pests and diseases, these records will help the Forestry Commission to enhance its forests for wildlife for generations to come.

From seasoned naturalists to budding wildlife enthusiasts, the Forestry Commission is encouraging people from all walks of life to take part. The Big Forest Find will be also supported by specialists from a host of other wildlife organisations including Plantlife, the Hawk & Owl Trust and Butterfly Conservation.

Big Forest Find activities will include nocturnal wildlife surveying at Maybeck, Yorkshire, and bug hunting at Drinkwater Park, near Manchester.

As part of the project, the public is being encouraged to record forest wildlife through the seasons using the free app iNaturalist. To find out how to take part visit

Wildlife TV presenter Michaela Strachan will take part in a Big Forest Find event at Westonbirt Arboretum on 16th April. She said,

“Forests are an amazing environment to see and hear wildlife, from birds nesting, finding food and hunting in the canopy, to the abundance of insects living on the forest floor. There's usually way more life living in a forest than is noticeable at first glance. 

“The Big Forest Find is a great way to encourage people to explore the life behind and under the leaves! Get involved, get outside, get exploring and connect with the truly inspiring world of forests.”

Forestry Commission ecologist Molly Gorman said, “From Grizedale to the New Forest, we work hard to make sure the forests in our care provide a real mix of habitats for wildlife to thrive.”

“The Big Forest Find is a fantastic opportunity for people to get out and explore, and help us discover even more about the animals, insects and plant life in our forests. These records are so important in the face of a changing climate, and will help shape how we look after our woodlands for decades to come.”

The Forestry Commission is marking its centenary by inspiring people to connect with trees and woodlands, to help protect them for generations to come. Alongside the Big Forest Find, the centenary year includes new works by sculptor Rachel Whiteread and poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, a show garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show and commemorative tree avenues planted to celebrate 100 years of forestry.

The Big Forest Find is part of the Year of Green Action - a year-long drive in 2019 to help people to connect with, protect and enhance nature.


17th May                                  Maybeck. Yorkshire
18th May                                  Haldon Forest Park, Devon
18th May                                  Viridor Wood, Greater Manchester
26th May – 3rd June                Bedgebury Pinetum, Kent
31st May – 1st June                 Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire
8th June                                   Blackwood Forest, Winchester
15th June                                 Cardinham Woods, Cornwall
18th June                                 Drinkwater Park, Greater Manchester
22nd June                                Sence Valley Forest Park, Leicestershire
6th July                                    Alice Holt, Hampshire
20th July                                  Deepdale, Dalby Forest, Yorkshire
20th July                                  Basingwood, Basingstoke, Hampshire
11th August                             Drinkwater Park, Greater Manchester


Big Forest Find
(credit: Forestry Commission)

Forest wildlife (credit: Forestry Commission / Simon Bound)


For more information please contact:

Harry Shepherd, Forestry Commission

0300 067 4363 | 07920 542173

Notes to editors:

Forestry Commission

100 Years of Forestry: 1919 – 2019

Founded in 1919 to replenish the nation’s strategic timber reserves in the wake of WWI, the Forestry Commission is England’s largest public landowner. It leads world-class research and actively manages over 1500 public forests and woodlands to benefit people, nature and the economy. It acts as the Government’s expert forestry advisors, helping to protect, improve and expand England’s forests.

Throughout 2019 the Forestry Commission will celebrate 100 years of forestry with a programme of events taking place throughout England. It will mark this milestone by celebrating the vital contribution forests make to enhancing our wellbeing, economy and environment. It will also look ahead to the next hundred years, at how forests will continue to play a critical role in underpinning the resilience of our environment, landscapes and economy into the future.

Forestry England

Forestry England manages and cares for the nation’s 1,500 woods and forests, with over 230 million visits per year. As England’s largest land manager, it shapes landscapes for people to enjoy, wildlife to flourish and businesses to grow. Forestry England has around 1,000 staff, 20,000 volunteers and 80,000 members. For more information visit Forestry England is an agency of the Forestry Commission.