New Forest habitat restoration scheme awarded significant grant


More than £1 million has been given to a series of projects designed to restore habitat in the New Forest.

The Species Survival Fund grant plans to help halt species decline and restore habitats in the national park, allowing work to enhance 250 ha of land across 25 sites to benefit a range of species.

Woodland, boggy mires, heathland, meadow, wetlands and streams are expected to be improved, while new ponds, wetlands and meadows will be created. As well as practical work, teams will also carry out surveys, advise landowners and run guided walks.

The New Forest is a stronghold for declining bird species such as Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (M J Bond).


Conservation connections

The conservation work is aimed at improving the connections between the New Forest's protected central core with the areas around it so species can spread out further. The programme also aims to help New Forest habitats become more resilient to climate change.

The projects will be run in partnership with conservation groups: Freshwater Habitats Trust, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, New Forest Commoners Defence Association and Wild New Forest.

Among the organisations, 14 jobs will be created or retained, five interns will develop green skills with the aim of going on to work in the environment sector and 50 new volunteers will be recruited.


New Forest under threat

National Park Authority (NPA) chair David Bence said: "This combination of habitats is hard to find anywhere else in western Europe. Yet, like elsewhere, nature is under serious threat here and the New Forest is the last stronghold for some species.

"This programme represents a major step forward in the urgent conservation work we and our partners need to do for the New Forest, particularly in and around the National Park boundary."