AN astonishing 2,000 new jobs could be created in the next six years due to a boom in tourism as a result of the National Forest.
A new report by bosses of the 200 sq mile forest says they expect 6,500 people in total to be employed in the area by 2020 as a direct result of the economic value and visitor numbers that the woodlands bring to the area.
The various woodland sites across Burton and South Derbyshire will help boost the gross added value of the area to nearly £6 billion, continuing the positive economic impact that the creation of the National Forest has had and showing the substantial potential benefits it will have in the future.
National Forest Company chief executive Sophie Churchill said: “This report is the latest in a number over the last 10 years to demonstrate the economic impact of the National Forest.
“With each report, we see the National Forest coming of age as an asset to its populations and the wider area.
“The next stage is a further programme of investment with businesses and our local authority partners and I look forward to that taking shape over the next year.”
Bosses said that there was scope for substantial economic growth into the future, based around the growing forest, which has made the area attractive for inward investment.
There were eight million visitor days in 2012, which could become 10 million by 2024.
The report showed there was scope to extend the visitor experience into a longer season and to increase the numbers of visitors staying overnight.
The report showed that while the woodland-based economy was not a major employer, it provided sustainable fuel with economic and environmental value and a range of other products and economic activity.
The woodlands also provide a setting for leisure and recreation businesses. Since 2001 there have been more than 30 major inward investment decisions worth more than £1 billion into the National Forest.