A head and shoulders photo of Neil Darlison standing in front of a background of green leaves

Neil Darlison, Trustee

"I am delighted to join the Heart of England Forest board of trustees, having long been an admirer of the charity and especially the boldness and simplicity of its vision. Of course, a broadleaf forest of this scale will play an important role in diversifying wildlife and helping to mitigate the effects of climate change, but I am excited too that it will provide spaces for people to enjoy right now as well as in the future."

Q&A with Neil

When did you become a trustee? 

June 2024.

Why did you choose to give your time and get involved with the charity?

I was attracted to getting involved with the Heart of England Forest sometime ago. I was immediately taken by the compelling simplicity of the charity’s mission – to create 30,000 acres of connected forest in Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

As I dug deeper I became further interested in three other aspects; how the Forest would be a resource for the those in the Midlands and beyond including diversity of wildlife it could accommodate; how the charity makes decisions about  buying land to create woodland and wetlands; and how they responsibly make the most of the money that has been donated and bequeathed to it in order that this brilliant ambition is realised. And I love being with trees and in woods and forests. 


What expertise do you bring to the trustee role?

My day job is in the arts and cultural sector, so whilst there is not an immediate connection to trees and woodland, I have experience of working with (and for) charities, of fundraising and grant giving, and of working with trustees of significant national cultural organisations to deliver specific charitable objectives. 


What aspect of the charity’s work interests you the most?

Operationally I am interested in how the charity responsibly manages its funds and fundraising, how it interacts with a local and regional public, how it aligns with current stakeholders, and how it plans to expand the forest as quickly as it can.

I am also interested in sustainability - in its widest definition, obviously environmental, but financial and societal sustainability too - which I think the resource the Heart of England Forest can brilliantly contribute to. 


What are the challenges facing the charity over the next 12 months?

Changes to the climate is certainly one of them, the ever changing legislation around agriculture and forestry are likely to be the another (with a strategic eye on the ambitions of a potential new government), and perhaps ensuring the sustainability of the charity’s ambitions – in the widest context – given current economic, political, and environmental considerations. 


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