New Forest Ambassadors swing into action to help care for the National Park
Over 240 people have signed up to become New Forest National Park Ambassadors since the scheme was launched last month.
The scheme was set up by the National Park Authority and parish councils after local people said they wanted to get involved more in helping to care for the Forest’s internationally-important landscape and its wildlife.
This spring and summer the New Forest, like many other locations, have seen unprecedented numbers of people returning to enjoy time outside. Most people cause no issues but there has been a rise in anti-social behaviours including fire risks, irresponsible parking and littering.
The Ambassador scheme provides a list of practical ways people can help across the National Park, including in their local villages and community areas.
Since it was launched a month ago:
- 243 people have signed up to become Ambassadors, some with additional family members
- 400 litter picking kits have been distributed to collection points to date and 270 collected so far
- 200 counts of cars parked on protected verges outside of car parks have been submitted
- 10,000 printed copies of the New Forest Code are being circulated.
The Ambassadors provide a boost alongside the increased patrols and activities already being carried out by rangers and other staff from the National Park Authority, Forestry England, New Forest District Council and the emergency services. In one weekend alone the NPA and FE rangers and keepers dealt with 120 incidents ranging from fires, to fly tipping and feeding the New Forest ponies.
Nigel Matthews, Head of Recreation Management and Learning, at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The partners are gearing up for another busy Bank Holiday weekend and we are appealing to members of the public to please respect and care for the National Park and to follow the New Forest Code.’
New Forest National Park Authority acting Chairman Patrick Heneghan said: ‘The New Forest has a great tradition of volunteering, litter picking groups and people recording wildlife. In previous years over 1,200 people turned out for the Great British Spring Clean in the New Forest which unfortunately had to be cancelled in March so it’s great to see all the litter picking groups, individuals and the Ambassadors taking action.
‘The Ambassador scheme provides a focal point for support across a wide range of important activities.
‘The scheme also works well because people can fit in their support for the Forest when they’re able to.
‘Looking forwards, we’ll be growing the scheme to provide different opportunities for even more volunteers to get involved.
‘Without those people prepared to give of their time, the Forest would not be the wonderful place that it is today. We’d like to thank everyone for their help.’
The National Park Authority, Forestry England and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service have also received support in caring for the Forest by over 50 retailers who have taken disposable barbecues off sale to reduce the risks of fires.