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Thousands of volunteer hours help protect the New Forest

Thousands of volunteer hours help protect the New Forest


100 dedicated volunteers in the New Forest have committed almost 32,000 hours to helping protect and enhance the National Park.

The volunteers from around the New Forest have each clocked up well over 100 hours of activities such as unearthing ancient artefacts during archaeological digs, surveying unique species and recording fascinating historical documents.

Volunteering is a great way to help local communities and the environment. The volunteers also benefit by making new friends, learning new skills, improving their mental and physical wellbeing, and even advancing their careers.

Brian Matthews from Lymington has contributed over 1,200 hours removing invasive non-native plants, creating wildlife corridors and improving Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation.

He said: ‘I was already a Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust volunteer when the Our Past, Our Future landscape partnership scheme was launched in 2015 and so have been involved from the outset. As well as addressing my environmental concerns, an additional personal benefit is that I have had tinnitus for many years and find that working outdoors is very therapeutic. In my opinion Our Past, Our Future has been an unqualified success.’

Sylvia Crocker from Woodlands has dedicated over 800 hours volunteering in the Christopher Tower Reference Library within the New Forest Heritage Centre in Lyndhurst and updating the New Forest Knowledge website.

She said: ‘The library has a unique and fascinating collection of books, maps, photos and postcards relating to the New Forest, and it is a really interesting place to work. I have been scanning photos and cataloguing items that have been donated and helping people with their research and enquiries. I believe that the website and the Our Past, Our Future scheme have made many more people aware of the history and heritage of the New Forest, and hopefully will help to preserve it for the future.’

Volunteer, Training and Mentoring Co-ordinator, Richard Austin, said: ‘It’s fantastic to see so many volunteers giving their time to the wide range of projects we’re delivering alongside our partner organisations.

‘This scheme has enabled volunteers to see parts of the New Forest that they hadn’t before, all while making new friends, learning about this historic landscape and becoming custodians of it. They can give as much or as little time as they like.’

Volunteering is fundamental to the success of the National Heritage Lottery Fund Our Past, Our Future landscape partnership to help protect the New Forest’s unique heritage, landscape and wildlife for future generations.

You can find your own volunteer role in the New Forest at

Notes to Photo Editor:

Volunteer Brian Matthews.

Notes to Editor:

Our Past, Our Future

Our Past, Our Future is a Landscape Partnership Scheme for the New Forest which, supported by National 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 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:

Maria Court, Communications Officer
New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650

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