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New Forest Connects

New Forest Connects

Lead Partner

New Forest National Park Authority

What is it about?

New Forest Connects is delivering a diverse programme of events, activities, training and information to inspire people living, working or visiting the National Park.

What’s been achieved?
  • ‘Step into the New Forest’s story’ exhibition at the New Forest Show 2016 was visited by 4247 people and awarded first prize in ‘best large stand’ category. The exhibition included mindfulness colouring based on the Forest’s wildlife and landscapes, ‘don’t feed the ponies’ poster voting, traditional tools interactive game, walking map and a sand table timeline. This exhibition then ran at the New Forest Centre from September to November 2016 and was visited by 9,600 people
  • ‘Tree Stories of the New Forest – Past, Present and Future’ exhibition held for three days at the New Forest Show 2017 was visited by 3,241 people. It considered how trees can help us understand the New Forest’s long and interesting history and how the 800 year old ‘Charter of the Forest’ still shapes the Forest today. There were a number of activities including: an animation zone – a modelling and stop frame animation activity to create an animated film about the Charter of the Forest; a tree time challenge – this was an activity to match the events to a time line to discover the date/order (based on tree rings); and voting for your favourite tree in the National Park (as nominated by members of the public through an online competition). Elements from the New Forest Show stand were then included in a non-manned exhibition at the New Forest Centre during Autumn 2017 which attracted 19,517 visitors. This also included works that were curated during the June Arts Festival including the ‘Tree of Life’ and results of the dendrology work.
  • Over 10,000 people attended the Commoning Voices exhibition, curated by local commoner, teacher and outdoor learning expert Lyndsey Stride, which was held at the New Forest Heritage Centre from November 2018 to January 2019. The exhibition explained the relationship commoners have with the Forest, one another, their animals and the public. The exhibition included recorded personal stories from commoners, photographs and information about key Forest characters and different commoning activities. It has received very positive feedback and is touring other venues during 2019 to spread the messages further
  • Walking With a Purpose: New Forest Walking Festivals have taken place every October since 2016. These guided walks were led by local experts to help people discover more about the history, heritage and wildlife of the Forest. Over 5,000 have taken part by joining one (or more!) of the 233 walks to date.
  • Senses of Place: the information on display has been improved at two key sites in the Forest to encourage people to be inspired by and enjoy and learn about the New Forest. Work at the Bolderwood site has included interpretation at the deer viewing platform and at Blackwater a sculptor has produced sculptures and trail markers
  • A ‘Get involved day’ was held at Foxbury for volunteers and apprentice ranger applicants
  • ‘Behind the Scenes Tours’ have been run for various groups to help them understand commoning so that the key messages can then be cascaded to others
  • Social media and media training was delivered to commoners to allow them to use opportunities effectively. Since the training there has been a much greater presence on all social media
  • Interpretation panel completed and installed at Beaulieu Road Sales Yard telling the story of the yard and information about commoning

Watch the video below about the Charter of the Forest from the stop motion animation characters created at the 2017 New Forest Show by families:

Contact details

Jim Mitchell – Interpretation Officer, New Forest National Park Authority

Tel: 01590 646681 email:


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