Five-figure funding boost for conservation group

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Published Thursday 30 July 2015

Volunteers in the New Forest are celebrating receiving a £10,000 grant to help them discover and promote the natural heritage of their local river.

The Blackwater Conservation Group has been awarded money by the Heritage Lottery Fund from the Sharing Heritage programme, which aims to help people across the UK explore, conserve and share all aspects of their area’s character.  

Supported by the New Forest Land Advice Service, the group has been formed by around 15 volunteers and will carry out surveys of the River Blackwater, which runs from south of Salisbury to Totton.

The group’s members will gather information about habitats supported by the river in order to increase understanding of the wildlife value and management needs of the river.

The grant will help the volunteers to put local people in touch with their natural heritage, which includes animals, plant life, waterways and habitats. They will be:

  • promoting the project to the wider community and encouraging greater involvement in caring for the river
  • running educational talks and events
  • helping more people learn about the river through a leaflet and display board
  • using the group’s work as an example to show other interested communities how they might run a similar project.

Angela Peters, Community Wildlife Plans Project Officer for the New Forest Land Advice Service, said: ‘We are so pleased to have received this funding, which will help harness and guide the energy and enthusiasm of the group.

The grant will help them discover more about the ecology and heritage of their local river system as well as helping them to get more local people involved.’

Tony Boyle, volunteer with the Blackwater Conservation Group, said: ‘This award from the Heritage Lottery Fund is excellent news and will enable us to work to conserve the landscape and ecology of the Blackwater river valley for future generations.’

‘The funding will help our group to develop new skills in identifying and monitoring wildlife habitats along the river basin, as well as encouraging more people to join us as volunteers through engagement with the wider community. As a result we hope that more people will soon appreciate how important the River Blackwater is for wildlife, the environment and the communities that surround it.’

Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said: ‘Sharing Heritage is a wonderful opportunity for communities to delve into their local heritage and we are delighted to be able to offer this grant so that Blackwater Conservation Group can embark on a real journey of discovery. Heritage means such different things to different people, and HLF’s funding offers a wealth of opportunities for groups to explore and celebrate what’s important to them in their area.’

If you would like to get involved with the Blackwater Conservation Group or find out more about the Community Wildlife Plans project please contact Angela Peters on 01590 646654 or email Angela.Peters@nflandadvice.org.uk

The Community Wildlife Plans project is part of the New Forest Land Advice Service and is funded by the National Park Authority, New Forest Trust and the Barker-Mill Foundation, with contributions from Parish and Town councils. It is aimed at encouraging local communities to get involved with wildlife surveys and conserving important habitat in their local area.

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Notes to photo editor:

Blackwater Conservation Group volunteers with Angela Peters of the New Forest Land Advice Service.

Notes to editor:

About the New Forest Land Advice Service

The New Forest Land Advice Service is available to landowners and occupiers who would like advice and support on a wide range of issues relating to land management. The advisors operate across the National Park, the Avon Valley and the coastal plain. Since the service started in 2010 it has advised more than 300 businesses.

The service offers:

  • A free and independent service for the land managing community in and around the New Forest and Avon Valley
  • Support for landowners, farmers, New Forest Commoners, equine owners, graziers and community groups
  • Advice to anyone who owns or manages a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) in the area
  • A small grant scheme which can support capital works which benefit the landscape, biodiversity and cultural heritage of the area.

To find out more about the New Forest Land Advice Service, or arrange a visit, please call 01590 646696 or email enquiries@nfladvice.org.uk.

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

Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery @HLFSouthEast

Sharing Heritage

Sharing Heritage is for any not-for-profit group wanting to explore their community’s heritage. With a commitment from HLF of £3m each year, Sharing Heritage grants between £3,000 and £10,000 are now available to groups who want to discover their local heritage. Projects can cover a wide spectrum of subject matter from exploring local archaeology and a community’s cultures and traditions to identifying and recording local wildlife and protecting the surrounding environment to managing and training volunteers, and holding festivals and events to commemorate the past.

Media Contact:

Matt Stroud, Communications Assistant, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650
Email: matt.stroud@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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