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Commoning community inspires the next generation to love the New Forest

Commoning community inspires the next generation to love the New Forest


Children from local schools are learning about the Forest and its fascinating commoning system thanks to a special education toolkit.

Nearly 3,000 children and young people have learnt about commoning and the New Forest over the past three years thanks to the Shared Forest project, with over 400 pupils having received their New Forest badges since the toolkit’s launch in October 2018.

The toolkit for primary aged children has been designed by local commoner, teacher and outdoor learning expert Lyndsey Stride and is full of curriculum-linked resources to support teachers, parents and group leaders when teaching about the special habitats, culture and history of the New Forest. Children receive the sew on badge to celebrate their learning once they have completed some of the activities within the toolkit.

Marchwood Infant School, Lymington Infant School, The Oaks Learning Federation, Ballard School and Hyde Primary School are just some of the schools that have taken part so far.

Activities include identifying commoners’ animals, matching habitats and wildlife, and creating posters. As part of their work the children of Netley Marsh C of E Infant School produced car stickers which they took home and put in their car windows, reminding their parents and other drivers to #add3minutes to their journeys and drive with care across the New Forest.

Head Agister, Jonathan Gerrelli, said: ‘Our local children are the ones that will be using and enjoying the Forest for years to come, and for them to understand and learn to love and respect it they need to learn how it works and about the animals and the people that own them. There may well be some that are inspired to become commoners of the future.’

Lyndsey said: ‘We live in such an amazing place. It is really important that all local children have the opportunity to learn about the Forest. I hope that the toolkit will make it easier for teachers to incorporate learning about the New Forest across the whole curriculum. We have 1,000 badges to give to schools, cubs, brownies, and other groups who use the toolkit to teach their students about commoning and the Forest.’

Tony Hockley, New Forest Commoners Defence Association Chairman, said: ‘People often ask us what we are doing for the next generation. We hope the toolkit will be used by local schools and youth groups to inspire our local children to love and care for the Forest.’

Lyndsey is available to support schools as they complete their badge and has recently attended both Ballard School and Lymington Church of England Infant School, delivering an assembly and workshops to inspire the children about the Forest’s flora and fauna.

Interested schools can contact Lyndsey direct for advice and support at

The toolkit and other commoning activities for schools and groups are available to download for free at

The toolkit is part of the Common Cause: Shared Forest project, which is supported by the National Heritage Lottery Fund Our Past, Our Future landscape partnership scheme. To find out more about the Shared Forest project and Our Past, Our Future scheme, visit


Notes to Photo Editor:

Year Two Pupils from St Michael and All Angels CE Infant School, Lyndhurst, with (L-R) Head Teacher Tina Daniels, New Forest Commoners Defence Association Chairman Tony Hockley, Head Agister Jonathan Gerelli, Project Officer Lyndsey Stride, Our Past, Our Future Project Manager Rachael Gallagher and Forestry England Community Manager Zoe Cox in October 2018.

Notes to Editor:

Our Past, Our Future

Our Past, Our Future is a Landscape Partnership Scheme for the New Forest which, supported by Heritage Lottery Funding, will undertake a range of projects to restore lost habitats, develop Forest skills and inspire a new generation to champion and care for the New Forest. The partnership focuses on the enclosed lands which surround the Open Forest.

The five year scheme is being led by the New Forest National Park Authority working alongside several delivery and funding partners, including the New Forest Land Advice Service.

For more information on Our Past, Our Future visit

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery @HLFSouthEast

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 to find out more.

Media Contact:

Beki Mole, Communications Assistant
New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646639

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