Families will go wild for play at new site in the New Forest

Wild Play Walk

Published Tuesday 11 October 2016

The New Forest is receiving its first permanent wild play site to help children discover and connect with nature.

Whether it is den building, balancing on logs or tracing animal tracks, woods are wonderful places for children to explore the great outdoors.

However the number of children playing in wild spaces has more than halved in a generation, with only 10 per cent playing in natural spaces such as woodlands and heaths1.

Opening in autumn 2017, The Holbury Manor Park and Warren Copse wild play site, situated just outside Holbury, will be a space for children and families to explore the outdoors all year round.

The scheme is supported by a multi-million pound landscape partnership scheme called Our Past, Our Future, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and led by the New Forest National Park Authority with 10 key partners.

New Forest National Park Authority Wild Play Officer Claire Pearce said: ‘Not only will the site benefit children’s health, it will provide a place for families to connect with nature and develop a desire to protect and preserve the local environment.’

New Forest Land Advice Service Project Co-ordinator Tom Murphy, said: ‘Warren Copse had become an example of unmanaged and neglected woodland, with the overgrown tree canopy creating problems for local wildlife.

‘As part of the Working Woodlands project, the New Forest Land Advice Service will help manage the site over the next three years. This will include thinning out the larger canopy trees to create different light levels, producing a haven for a wide variety of wildlife.’

Any logs and vegetation produced by the practical work this autumn will be recycled and used in the wild play site.

Volunteers from the Warren Copse and Holbury Manor Conservation Group have already reintroduced the traditional practice of coppicing and cleared the footpaths within the site to open up the area to the community.

Head of the Warren Copse and Holbury Manor Conservation Group Eddie Holtham, said: ‘This is an excellent site to pilot the wild play project and it will be a wonderful asset to the community. We begin bramble clearance on the site in October and look forward to seeing it in use.’

Fawley Parish Council Clerk Steve Postlethwaite said: ‘Fawley Parish Council is excited to support this innovative project. It is a fantastic opportunity to get children to engage more with the environment by encouraging more outdoor play and providing facilities that enable them to have greater contact with and respect for the natural world.’

There are a variety of volunteering roles on offer within the Wild Play project, including designing future and assisting with sites. To volunteer, please contact Wild Play Project Officer Claire Pearce on 01590 646 606 or claire.pearce@newforestnpa.gov.uk.

To get involved with practical volunteering tasks, such as scrub clearance, within the Working Woodlands project, please contact Richard Austin on 01590 646661 or richard.austin@nflandadvice.org.uk.

Find out more about the Our Past, Our Future landscape partnership scheme at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/landscapepartnership.


1. RSPB, Every Child Outdoors Summary Report (https://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/everychildoutdoors_tcm9-259689.pdf)

Notes to Photo Editor:

A young child enjoying wild play in the New Forest.

Notes to Editor:

Our Past, Our Future

Our Past, Our Future is a Landscape Partnership Scheme for the New Forest which, supported by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, will undertake a range of projects to restore lost habitats, develop Forest skills and inspire a new generation to champion and care for the New Forest. The partnership focuses on the enclosed lands which surround the Open Forest.

The five year scheme is being led by the New Forest National Park Authority working alongside several delivery and funding partners, including the New Forest Land Advice Service.
For more information on Our Past, Our Future visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/landscapepartnership

About the 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

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 350 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.

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.

Media Contacts:
Beki Mole, Communications Assistant, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646639
Email: beki.mole@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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