Salisbury MP visits new nature centre in New Forest National ParkPUBLISHED ON: 7 OCTOBER 2021
Salisbury MP John Glen visited a new nature education centre in the New Forest ahead of it being opened as a resource for young people.
The centre, located at Cameron’s Cottage is in the secluded Franchises Lodge nature reserve near Nomansland in the north of the New Forest National Park. The derelict site was saved for the nation by the RSPB in 2018 with the help of a £200,000 contribution from the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) and £25,000 from Friends of the New Forest.
Now, after a complete renovation, it’s set to welcome youth groups and charities, schools, colleges and universities.
The new nature outreach centre is completely off-grid with accommodation for residential stays. It’s called Cameron’s Cottage in memory of 16-year-old naturalist Cameron Bespolka.
The project is a partnership between the RSPB and the Cameron Bespolka Trust, which raised £425,000 towards the cost of renovating and running the centre.
John Glen said: ‘I think it’s a fantastic scheme, and a great example of a successful management model for collaboration between communities, councils, organisations and volunteers. I’m keen to see the benefits it will invariably bring to young people thanks to its enviable position in the Forest.
‘Not only does it offer the therapeutic value of nature but will introduce a new generation to the stewardship responsibility we all have for this beautiful part of the country.’
RSPB and NPA staff also welcomed NPA Chair Prof. Gavin Parker, and NPA members Richard Clewer (also Leader of Wiltshire Council) and Zoë Clewer (Wiltshire councillor) to the cottage. RSPB site manager Richard Snelling, project officer Anneka Schofield and conservation officer Nick Tomalin gave a tour of the site and buildings which include an ecology lab.
Prof. Gavin Parker said: ‘This is wonderful example of positive partnership and I hope that young people enjoy and learn here for many years to come.’
As part of their visit to nature projects in the north of the National Park, the group then met with NPA Wildlife Conservation Manager Julie Melin-Stubbs and Net Zero with Nature Programme Manager Olivia McGregor at nearby Wiltshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve Landford Bog to hear about their work delivering benefits for the environment in and around the New Forest.
Photo L-R: RSPB Conservation Officer Nick Tomalin, NPA Interpretation and Outreach Manager Jim Mitchell, NPA member Zoë Clewer, NPA member Richard Clewer, NPA Chair Prof. Gavin Parker, Salisbury MP John Glen, NPA CEO Alison Barnes, Franchises Lodge Site Manager Richard Snelling, Franchises Lodge Project Officer Anneka Schofield outside Cameron’s Cottage