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New Forest given £4.5m to restore ancient woodland
THE New Forest has been given millions of pounds to restore lost habitats, develop Forest skills and encourage a new generation to care for the New Forest.
A grant of £2.9m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has been earmarked for the National Park along with funding from the New Forest National Park and 10 key partners who will contribute their own cash to increase the pot to £4.5m.
The aim is to make the Forest more robust and able to withstand modern day pressures such as trends in agriculture, climate change, and increasing demands from a growing population that is less connected to the countryside.
The funding will help restore ancient woodland, grassland, meadows, waterways and historic buildings, protecting the area’s special qualities formed over a thousand years thanks to a unique system of land management based on commoning rights.
As well as practical measures, the project will develop a shared understanding and enthusiasm for the area between commoners, landowners, local communities and visitors, particularly around the edges of the Forest.
The New Forest is only one of two areas in the south east to be selected for the funding this year, and only one of nine across the country.
The full details of the programmes will be developed over the next 18 months by the National Park Authority and its key partners including the National Trust, Forestry Commission, Commoners Defence Association, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, New Forest Land Advice Service, Beaulieu Estate, New Forest Centre, Cadland Estate, Environment Agency and Natural England.
Local communities will also be consulted through parish councils and local interest groups about how the project will be developed.
National Park Authority member Marian Spain said: “This is wonderful news for the Forest.
“We and our partners have been working together to protect and enhance the special qualities of this unique area on a number of small projects such as the “Better Boundaries” scheme which creates wildlife corridors to connect the Forest with the Avon Valley.
“Now this Heritage Lottery Fund grant means that we can carry out work across the whole National Park to enhance its special landscapes and protect the wildlife that so many people who live here and visit the Forest enjoy.”
Graham Ferris, chairman of the Commoners Defence Association, said: ‘We welcome the positive response from the HLF and look forward to working with partners to draw up and implement detailed projects.
“The funding will be of benefit to the New Forest generally and specifically commoning with projects focussing on the area fringing the common lands, resisting creeping urbanisation, preserving traditional skills, providing training and support for young commoners and inspiring local communities, especially the younger generation with a passionate understanding of the unique cultural heritage and landscapes of a working Forest.”
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