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Climate and nature emergency and the New Forest National Park

Since the New Forest National Park was established in 2005, we’ve recognised that the climate crisis is the most significant long-term threat to this extraordinary landscape

 

We believe a more urgent response to the twin crises of the climate and nature emergencies is needed. National Parks across the UK are pulling together to drive change and inspire positive action. Locally, we’re now calling on our partners to take action together.
As organisations, groups and individuals, our collective actions are influencing the future of the New Forest National Park, including its nature, wildlife, infrastructure, communities and working forest .
By acting together now, we can make a positive difference to the New Forest and to the planet.

 

What are the impacts of the climate and nature emergency on the New Forest?

The New Forest is a world capital for wildlife with a unique mosaic of habitats and many rare species. It could suffer huge impacts of further climate change.

Our wildlife and nature are under threat from rising temperatures, wildfires, pests, diseases, drier soils and wetlands, and more powerful and frequent storms.

By 2080 it’s predicted that the south of England will experience warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers. These changes could affect water quality and storage, pollination, flooding , soil formation and carbon storage.

For wildlife it could affect the range and numbers of species and alter their seasonal activity.

 

What are we doing for the New Forest National Park?

As the New Forest National Park Authority, we’re working to both reduce the effects of climate change and help the Forest cope – so that the special qualities of the National Park are maintained for future generations.

We’re doing this in three ways:

  • Helping the New Forest to adapt to the climate and nature emergency through restoring, creating and managing habitats and making wildlife areas more resilient (adaptation)
  • Reducing our own carbon footprint (mitigation)
  • Encouraging behaviour change among our communities and visitors (education).

 

Net zero with nature

We’re working with our partners towards the National Park being ‘net zero with nature’ by 2050. Net zero is achieved when any harmful greenhouse gas emissions are balanced by an equivalent amount being absorbed by the atmosphere and landscape. We’ll do this through nature-based solutions such as wetland restoration and low-carbon farming practices

 

Land management

Through correct land management we can help ensure the environment continues to play a vital role in capturing carbon through the healthy functioning natural systems of our pasture woodlands, hedges, bogs & mires, saltmarshes and heathland, underpinned by commoning – the unique system of extensive grazing.

Keeping these different habitats in good condition will mean they’ll continue to function well as carbon-storers and homes for wildlife. Across the open Forest, habitat restoration, woodland management and sustainable farming practices can all help to reach net zero targets.

 

Bigger, more joined-up habitats

We’re also looking at creating landscapes that are bigger, better managed and more joined up. Larger swathes of habitats that are in good condition and well connected are more resilient and adaptable to climate change. They also allow wildlife to move more freely within them. Examples include the recent purchase of Franchises Lodge nature reserve with the RSPB and the habitat improvements being delivered through the Higher Level Stewardship scheme.

 

‘Right tree, right place’

Trees are an important part of carbon capture, and it’s understandable that there’s a call for more trees being planted and fewer to be felled. However, these measures alone are not the answer – particularly within the New Forest National Park where the mosaic of habitats should be considered as a whole.

Our internationally-rare lowland heaths and mires are valuable, often absorbing and storing more carbon than trees, especially those with a deep peat base. Removing small numbers of non-native species such as Scots pine from organic-rich soils will help the landscape absorb carbon better than if the trees were left standing. This can be enhanced further through wetland restoration. Bogs and heaths also support some internationally-important wildlife whose survival depends on habitats being kept clear of invasive species such as Scots pine.

 



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