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Net zero with nature programme

We’re working with our partners and communities 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 nature. We’ll do this through nature-based solutions such as wetland restoration and low-carbon farming practices.

Strategies

Partnership Plan: Net zero with nature is one of the key themes of the draft Partnership Plan to 2026 – the main strategic document with actions for all organisations with a remit for caring for the National Park.

Greenprint: We’ve worked with partners to develop a ‘Greenprint’ for south Hampshire – to drive a green recovery and develop a more prosperous, fair, resilient and environmentally aware society. It’s a framework for policy-making, collaboration and co-operation with five themes:

  • Delivering net zero carbon with nature
  • Promoting a natural health service
  • Protecting, restoring and improving our world class blue/green environments
  • Creating great places through quality in design and build
  • Making our area a centre for excellence in green skills and jobs.

New Forest natural capital baseline: We have worked with Solent Local Economic Partnership and partners to develop this vitally important environmental reference point for the New Forest. The report gives a better understanding of the role that the New Forest’s unique biodiversity, ecosystems, and water and marine resources currently play and their future potential as natural solutions for helping us tackle climate change.

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 and 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.

Farming in Protected Landscapes: We’re delivering Defra’s Farming In Protected Landscapes grant programme in the New Forest. It supports farmers and land managers to carry out projects that support the natural environment, mitigate the impacts of climate change, provide public access opportunities or support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses.

Revere: We and the 14 other UK National Parks have joined with global impact firm Palladium to creating a sustainable funding model for nature restoration at scale to tackle the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis. Revere aims to catalyse private finance and help secure almost £240 million for vital nature restoration projects needed in national parks by 2030.

Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund: The New Forest NPA is one of 27 organisations across England awarded up to £100,000 each as part of the ground-breaking £10 million Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund from Defra, the Environment Agency and Natural England. The pilot project involving the Barker-Mill and Cadland Estates and Forestry England is looking at where arable farmland and low-quality grasslands could be turned into woodlands and wetlands to enhance nature, capture carbon, improve water quality and extend these benefits to the Open Forest. The project will then work out how much economic value these environmental benefits provide for people, what they cost to deliver, and how much investment is needed to get started.

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.

Franchises Lodge nature reserve: We invested £200,000 to help the RSPB acquire this 1,000 acre site in the north of the New Forest in 2018 and improve its value for wildlife. It’s an extremely rare chance to turn a huge piece of the north of the National Park into a special place for nature, making the Forest bigger, better for nature and more joined-up.

Higher Level Stewardship scheme: England’s largest environmental scheme has been operating since 2010 and seen £22 million invested in the Forest to restore and enhance its internationally-important habitats. Successes include returning 20 miles of streams which were artificially-straightened in Victorian times to drain the Forest back to their natural water courses. This improves the carbon storage in wetlands, prevents flooding and supports the habitats of rare species such as the southern damselfly and curlew.

Green and blue horizons from city to Forest: We’re leading this multi-partner scheme which brings an £800,000 investment into the New Forest awarded in 2021. The project will kickstart action to confront the twin climate and nature emergencies with programmes to restore habitats, begin our path towards net zero with nature, and help new and diverse audiences connect with the New Forest.

‘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 species non-native to the New Forest 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.

Find out more in a blog from our Net Zero with Nature Programme Manager.

New Forest Climate and Nature Challenge

We’re working with our communities in and around the National Park. Get involved in the New Forest Climate and Nature Challengepledge and Awakening Festival, backed up by the Sustainable Communities Fund.



Olivia
McGregor
Net Zero with Nature Programme Manager

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'Nature recovery is key to tackling the climate crisis.'

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