Environmental award launched in the New Forest

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Published Wednesday 11 May 2016

New Forest National Park Authority is launching the John Muir Award with a series of fun and interactive sessions about the environmental award and the man known as the ‘Father of National Parks'.

John Muir, originally from Scotland, played an instrumental role in creating the National Parks movement in the late 1800s in the United States. Now thousands of people across the country take part in the award each year and there’s a John Muir Celebration week from 16 – 24 April.

New Forest National Park Authority Ranger Craig Daters will be on hand at a ‘Discover Your National Park Day’ at the New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst, on 29 May to promote and provide information about the John Muir Award. locally

He will be leading activity sessions at Ashurst Forestry Commission Campsite on 25 June and Hoburne Bashley Holiday Park, Sway, on 24 July.

The Award is an environmental award scheme for people of all backgrounds – groups, families, individuals; non-competitive, inclusive and accessible. It does not have a set programme or syllabus and no one tells you what to do. You design your own Award to follow your own interests, as long as over a minimum period of four days you fulfil the four challenges:

  • Discover
  • Explore
  • Conserve
  • Share.

Craig said: ‘Getting involved in activities to help conserve the Forest, such as monitoring, campaigning, educating or undertaking practical work that many of the New Forest organisations offer, and sharing your experiences with others would put you in the running for an award. The opportunities are vast and the options are endless!’

You can choose to work towards your Award anywhere within the National Park - school grounds, parks, beaches, woods and rivers are all great places for exploration and discovery. Popular subjects that people want to learn about are the habitats and wildlife or the commoning animals that roam freely around the Forest.

Others are interested in the landscape and have enjoyed following a stream or river from its source to the sea, or discovering some of the secrets of the many hundreds of ancient trees. Some may be interested in aspects of the rich cultural history of the forest, such the abundance of Bronze Age barrows and other remains, or more recently, the important role that the Forest played in the First and Second World Wars.

John Muir was an explorer, mountaineer, conservationist, botanist, amateur geologist and writer. Born in Dunbar in Scotland in 1838, he immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of 10. It was here Muir extended his passion for wild places and through his writing and campaigning, he helped others understand the importance of wildness. He is now considered to be the ‘Father of National Parks’ following his instrumental role in setting up the modern conservation movement.

The John Muir Trust is a conservation charity dedicated to protecting and enhancing wild places and the John Muir Award is their main engagement initiative. Last year over 33,488 people in the UK worked towards and gained their Award with 36,200 days of ‘Conserve’ activity, building wild and valuable experiences and memories.

The New Forest National Park Authority can help people develop their ideas with local knowledge, guidance and support.

For more information and to book your place on the activity sessions, visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/johnmuiraward or email johnmuiraward@newforestnpa.gov.uk.

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Notes to Photo Editor:

SEEDS home education group (Southampton area) exploring the woods at Ashurst with National Park Authority rangers as part of their John Muir Award.

Notes to Editor:

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.

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