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Thousands of children get a Forest education

Published: Friday 10 February 2017

Thousands of children get a Forest education

Thousands of youngsters have learnt more about nature on educational visits to the New Forest in the last 12 months.

In total, 3,385 children from 50 schools and colleges visited the National Park for free in 2016 to learn about rivers, how to care for the Forest and the impacts of tourism.

The visits are run by education officers from the New Forest National Park Authority and the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst as part of a project funded by the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) Scheme. This is a 10 year initiative to restore internationally-important New Forest wetlands and other habitats, while educating people about the area. 

The HLS agreement with Natural England is held by the Verderers of the New Forest. The scheme is managed by them in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the National Park Authority. 

Educational visits took place in every month but August in 2016, with schools appreciating the benefits of a visit to the Forest all year round. Around two thirds of the visits were by primary schools, with many studying the management of National Parks as part of the national curriculum. 

Mercedes Henning, Headteacher at Holy Trinity Primary Academy near Devizes, said: ‘Our children had a really wonderful experience of the New Forest, finding out about the animals, writing poetry and making little animals. This was all accomplished with a huge group of 140 children! 

‘The whole event was supremely well organised, relaxed, purposeful, interesting and engaging. I was amazed at how much the children were able to experience in the short time we were there. The preplanning was also excellent, with outstandingly good communication, clear planning in advance, friendly and welcoming advice and suggestions.’

Sue Palma, New Forest National Park Authority Education Officer, said: ‘Being able to offer free sessions to schools enables many children and young people to visit the Forest, often for the first time, and helps to ensure increased understanding of their local landscape. This year there has been a welcome increase in the number of groups of older students from Key Stage 3.’

To find out more about the work of the HLS scheme in the New Forest visit www.hlsnewforest.org.uk.  

Notes to photo editors

Children on an HLS-funded school trip to Whitefield Moor in the New Forest.

Notes to editors   

1. The role of the Verderers of the New Forest is to protect and administer the New Forest's unique agricultural commoning practices; to conserve its traditional landscape, wildlife and aesthetic character, including its flora and fauna, peacefulness, natural beauty and cultural heritage;  and to safeguard a viable future for commoning. www.verderers.org.uk

2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. www.forestry.gov.uk/england-about-us

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission. www.forestry.gov.uk/englandsforests

For more information, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/newforest


3. Natural England is the government's advisor on the natural environment. Established in 2006 our work is focused on enhancing England's wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public. www.naturalengland.org.uk

4. The Environmental Stewardship Scheme, of which HLS is one strand, is administered by Natural England, on behalf of Defra, and funds farmers and land managers throughout England to deliver effective environmental management on their land.

The objectives of Environmental Stewardship are to:
  • Maintain and enhance landscape quality and character
  • Protect the historic environment and natural resources
  • Conserve biodiversity.
  • Promote public access and understanding of the countryside
The ES scheme is now closed to new applicants and has now been succeeded by the Countryside Stewardship scheme

About the New Forest Centre

The New Forest Centre is a museum, reference library and art gallery conveniently located in Lyndhurst. The New Forest Centre aims to inspire its visitors to celebrate and conserve the New Forest. It does this by collecting, conserving and interpreting its collections and by providing educational activities and information to a broad range of audiences. In doing so, it acts in ways that are ethical, ecologically sensitive and intellectually accessible and affordable. It is owned and run by the New Forest Ninth Centenary Trust (reg. charity no: 279373). 

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:
  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect.
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.
We also have a duty to:
  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.
The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

Media Contact

Matt Stroud, Communications Officer 
New Forest National Park Authority 
Tel: 01590 646650