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How we brought the New Forest into the City

How we brought the New Forest into the City

PUBLISHED ON: 20 MAY 2022

The New Forest National Park Authority and partners took to the city to meet over 400 visitors at the University of Southampton’s Science and Engineering day on Saturday 7 May.

Alongside the Freshwater Habitats Trust (FHT) and the Countryside Education Trust (CET), we set out to reach a more diverse audience and share the importance of the National Park right on their doorstep.

Visitors had the opportunity to learn about the wildlife and rare species living in the New Forest as well as the amazing water ways, ponds and different habitats that hold international significance and are so vitally important to the National Park. Alongside this, we explained to families about the climate and nature emergency facing all of us and how to protect nature whilst living in the city.

The Freshwater Habitats Trust’s dragonfly-making activity proved particularly popular with children, with 87 paper insects brought to life with a little help from the kids taking part. During the process families learned about how dragonflies and other wildlife need the cleanest water to survive and why it’s important to follow the New Forest Water Code.

Below, Gemma Stride, a project officer at the Freshwater Habitats Trust, gives us a quick insight into why the FHT was at the Science and Engineering Day:

Next door to the Freshwater Habitats Trust’s tent we had several activities that showcased different elements that make up the New Forest, such as habitats and wildlife and what happens if those start to disappear.

Jim Mitchell, Interpretation and Outreach Manager at the National Park Authority, was joined by Helen Robinson, our Lead Education and Youth Officer, and Lillie Brockwell, an ecology and wildlife conservation student at Bournemouth University. Together they hosted several activities and challenges that demonstrated the importance of wildlife and nature conservation.

In the video below, Jim and Lillie provide a quick run through of some of the information and activities they had on display:

 

The event was part of the Green and Blue Horizons from City to Forest scheme. An aim of the project is to expand the reach of the New Forest into local urban areas such as Southampton. The scheme aims to get one thousand people regularly accessing green and blue spaces as well as engaging ten thousand young people in climate and nature.

Southampton was identified as a city with a higher than average population living in deprived neighbourhoods. 12% of Southampton’s population fall within 10% of the most deprived areas nationally (Southampton data observatory, 2021). It has also been identified that those living in areas of higher deprivation struggle to and have fewer opportunities to connect with nature.

The People and Nature Survey for England (Natural England, 2021) found that:

In February 2021, 28% of adults had not spent any time in green and natural spaces in the previous 14 days and 14% had not visited any green and natural spaces in the previous month. Groups who were less likely to have visited include people living in an area of high deprivation, people who have low income or are unemployed, minority ethnic groups and those with a long-term health condition or disability.

It is reasons such as these that engaging with diverse communities outside of the National Park’s borders is so important. By bringing the National Park to Southampton, we helped people from all ages and backgrounds find out more about the nature right on their doorstep, how to conserve, interact and enjoy it.

Helen talks about how important it is for children and young people to learn more about nature below:

The Green and Blue Horizons from City to Forest scheme is funded by the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund was developed by Defra and its Arm’s-Length Bodies. It is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission.

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