Coppiced over many centuries, the woodlands once supported hundreds of jobs and fuelled a large part of the local economy. This in turn has created a rich industrial archaeology and many historic features that tell the tales of past working lives. The area is one of the most densely wooded in England and is widely recognised for its natural heritage value; it contains Special Areas of Conservation, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and numerous County Wildlife Sites.
The coppices are a haven for many threatened plant, butterfly, moth, bird and small mammal species. This is the landscape that inspired cultural figures like John Ruskin and Arthur Ransome. ‘The calm scenery refreshes the soul’, providing opportunities for quiet contemplation and outdoor recreation, and nourishing the strong, local communities living in the scattered settlements.