Families celebrate first wild play area in the New Forest
Den building, natural crafts and a scavenger hunt were just some of the activities enjoyed by families to launch the first permanent wild play site in the New Forest.
Warren Copse, in Holbury, is the first of three wild play sites to be built within the New Forest. From minibeast hunting and balancing on logs, to stick crafts and hide and seek, wild play activities are free and use the natural environment as inspiration for families to discover more about local wildlife.
These unique spaces will help families discover and connect with their surroundings, provide areas for children to exercise to improve their health and wellbeing, and encourage them to explore nature. Around 200 people attended the opening on Wednesday 4 April.
The Warren Copse site is funded by £24,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund Our Past, Our Future scheme; £31,000 from the National Grid’s Landscape Enhancement Initiative (LEI) and £1,000 from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme.
Children today have significantly less opportunities for wild play than the generations before them, spending increasing amounts of time playing inside and using digital technology and social media.
Claire Pearce, Wild Play Officer for New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘It was wonderful to see so many families turn up to celebrate the opening of the site and take part in the wild play activities.
‘It is important to encourage children to play outside because it not only keeps them fit and healthy, it enables them to discover more about their natural surroundings. It has become easy to spend large amounts of time staring at our phones and tablets. But we hope that showing families it is easy to take part in wild play will inspire them and to adopt ideas and have their own wild play adventure.’
The National Park Authority worked with Fawley Parish Council and local volunteers from Warren Copse Conservation Group to apply for the funding from the National Grid, which supports environmental improvements close to its high voltage electricity lines in national parks.
Warren Copse is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation and an ancient woodland. The National Grid grant will help improve the woodland for wildlife and improve footpaths on site, as well as the car park surface at Holbury Drove.
Fawley Parish Council Clerk Steve Postlethwaite said: ‘This initiative shows the benefits of working in partnership to obtain funding that will enhance and maintain Warren Copse for the residents of our parish for years to come. The Council’s staff have already been working closely with the New Forest National Park Authority and the fantastic volunteers from the Warren Copse Conservation Group to improve the area. This funding will allow us to really make changes to the Copse that will further improve its beauty and accessibility. I can’t wait to see the next phase of the work implemented.’
Environmentalist and broadcaster Chris Baines, who chairs National Grid’s Visual Impact Provision Project’s National Stakeholder Advisory Group, said: ‘Through the LEI we hope to make a positive contribution towards preserving and enhancing the natural beauty, landscape character, cultural heritage, wildlife and biodiversity in England and Wales’ most precious landscapes.
‘It was pleasing to see applications for the funding from so many inspiring projects. I look forward to watching their progress as they work to help to make these beautiful areas even more enjoyable to visit.’
The second wild play site will be located in Sway, with a third site currently in discussion.
More information on the Wild Play project can be found at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/landscapepartnership.
Notes to Photo Editor:
Children enjoying balancing games at the opening of the New Forest’s first wild play site at Warren Copse, just outside Holbury.
Notes to Editor:
National Grid Landscape Enhancement Initiative Project (LEI)
The LEI is part of National Grid’s Visual Impact Provision project, which will make use of a £500 million allowance made available by Ofgem until 2021. In addition, National Grid is progressing plans under this allowance to replace existing overhead lines with underground infrastructure in four protected landscapes, including a project in the New Forest National Park to remove a section of overhead line near Hale.
The 3km section of line running across Hale Purlieu was identified by an independent landscape survey as having a strong visual impact on its setting. Since 2015, National Grid has been working with local stakeholders, including the New Forest National Park Authority, the National Trust, Natural England and the Verderers of the New Forest, to develop plans to replace the overhead line with underground electricity transmission infrastructure.
Find out about the National Grid’s Landscape Enhancement Initiative Projects at http://lei.nationalgrid.com/.
About Tesco Bags of Help
Tesco has teamed up with Groundwork to launch its Bags of Help initiative in hundreds of regions across England and Wales. The scheme will see three community groups and projects in each of these regions awarded grants of £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 – all raised from the 5p bag charge.
Bags of Help offers community groups and projects in each of Tesco’s 390 regions across the UK a share of revenue generated from the five pence charge levied on single-use carrier bags. The public voted in store from 27 February until 6 March on who should receive the £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 awards.
Find out more on the Bags of Help website at www.tesco.com/carrier-bags/
 Childwise, 2017 (http://www.childwise.co.uk/uploads/3/1/6/5/31656353/childwise_press_release_-_monitor_2017.pdf) [Accessed 23 May 2017].
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.
Beki Mole, Communications Assistant
New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646639