Spruce up your summer!

Published Monday 11 July 2011

Visitors to the New Forest this summer are urged to help keep the beauty spot clean and tidy.

While litter is a real eyesore in the open forest, towns and villages, it is also harmful to the ponies, small mammals and birds.

The message comes from Forest Force, a partnership between New Forest District Council, the New Forest National Park Authority and Forestry Commission, which has been leading the way in a campaign to keep the area litter free.

So far this year it has organised 26 community litter picks and visited 20 local primary schools to educate more than 4500 youngsters. Among the more interesting litter finds this year were a metal gate and a wheelbarrow. New pony-proof litter bins have also been installed in tourist hotspots.

But the hard work won't stop there as Forest Force continues to take its message out to schools, residents and visitors over the coming months.

New Forest District Council's portfolio holder for environment, Councillor Edward Heron, said: "On rural roads alone it costs the council approximately £60,000 a year to clear up litter - taxpayers' money which could be spent better elsewhere.

"Litter can also be very harmful to wildlife in the New Forest as well as blighting the look of an area. I hope all visitors and local people will remember not to drop their litter when they are out and about in the New Forest - bin it or take it home with you."

New Forest National Park Authority community and visitors service manager, Nigel Matthews, said: "I'm particularly pleased that so many schools have taken up the offer of the 'Take me home' sessions. Many of these children will grow up and have their own families in the New Forest so it's vital that they understand why we shouldn't drop litter or throw it out of the car window."

Forestry Commission volunteer co-ordinator, Vicky Myers, says: "Although not an enviable task, our volunteers and staff carry out litter picks throughout the year across the whole of the New Forest and they often encounter 'unofficial' volunteers - local people doing their bit to keep the forest clean and tidy too.

"It's great that so many people get involved - but it's one issue that we really shouldn't have to tackle if people took their litter home."

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