International award for New Forest National Park recreation officer

Published Tuesday 24 November 2009

A prestigious European scholarship has been won by the New Forest National Park’s Recreation Officer which will fund her visits for research in other protected landscapes around Europe.

Saira Sheldrake was one of just three people to be awarded the Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarship at the recent Europarc conference in Sweden.

The scholarships are given to ‘promising young conservationists with practical experience in the field of conservation and in the work of protected areas’ throughout Europe.

Saira won the award for developing a model to consider the relationship between kite-surfing and wintering and wading birds at Keyhaven, within the New Forest National Park.

This award will enable Saira to further investigate disturbance distances of wintering and wading birds in relation to the sport of kite-surfing in other European protected areas.

Saira said: ‘It’s a great honour to receive the award. Through the scholarship – which is worth €3,000 – I’ll be able to visit two other protected landscapes in Europe, to find out about their experiences with similar issues where a balance between recreation and conservation needs to be found.’

EUROPARC represents 500 protected areas, governmental departments, non governmental organisations and businesses in 39 countries, who manage the ‘green jewels’ of Europe's land, sea, mountains, forests, rivers and also protect its cultural heritage.

The aim is to enhance international cooperation and to advance the quality, innovation and European dimension of protected area management.

National Park member and former Chairman Ted Johnson said: ‘I have been attending Europarc conferences since the early 1990s as part of my involvement with the New Forest Committee and National Park Authority, pressing the case for the New Forest as a protected area of international importance.

‘At each conference I have seen awards being won by young conservationists from all over Europe. I was therefore delighted to find that Saira was being honoured in this way. I wish her well in her studies.’


Media Contact:
Karen Evans, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650

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