The New Forest National Park Authority is inviting people to become New Forest Ambassadors to help support its work protecting this internationally-important area.
Since Covid-19 travel restrictions were eased the New Forest has, like many other locations, received unprecedented numbers of people returning to enjoy time outside.
Most people cause no issues and given the opportunity, many are keen to learn about the area’s rich culture, history and wildlife.
However, there has been a rise in anti-social behaviours including fire risks, irresponsible parking and littering.
Many people who enjoy living in or close to the New Forest National Park have expressed their desire to help in the efforts to respond, supporting the local area and its wildlife.
Now the New Forest National Park Authority has created a list of practical ways people can help across the whole of the National Park, including their local villages and community areas, alongside the increased patrols and activities already being carried out by rangers and staff from the National Park Authority, Forestry England and the emergency services.
Nigel Matthews, Head of Recreation Management and Learning at the New Forest National Park Authority said: ‘Many people are rightly reaping the health and wellbeing benefits of time spent on the coast and in the countryside, including in the New Forest National Park.
A coordinated effort is in place by all Forest organisations, local authorities and the emergency services to address resulting issues.
We also know that many local people have been supporting this work by picking up litter and reporting issues, and we’d like to thank them for protecting the National Park.
‘We recently held an online ‘summit’ of parish councils who asked how they could get involved further and we’ve been contacted by individuals, families and commoners who also offered more practical help.
We hope the information and resources we are providing will help create a new and growing team of New Forest Ambassadors, which we can expand in the coming weeks and months.
‘Alongside welcoming people back to the National Park, we want to help them understand and respect it, while encouraging everyone to stay safe.’
Here’s how you can help:
Litter picking – 500 free litter picking kits, each including a picking guide, bags, a hi-vis jacket and a litter picker, will be available in various outlets from Saturday 1 August.
Report a problem – improved instructions so that the right organisations are informed can now be found on the NPA website.
Help record verge and gateway parking – this will help Forest organisations review the Forest’s long-term parking needs.
Welcome responsible Forest users – downloadable and printed resources including the ‘New Forest Code’ are available on the NPA website so that Parish Councils, local businesses, visitor attractions and accommodation providers can share relevant messages.
Richard Taylor, New Forest National Park Authority member said: ‘As the country emerges from lockdown, many people are visiting the New Forest to enjoy its natural beauty and tranquillity.
The New Forest Ambassador scheme provides an excellent way for local people to get involved, and help these people understand and benefit from the special qualities of this place – and yet not cause inadvertent harm.’