New Forest organisations are inviting people to join in with the New Forest Awakening Festival which runs throughout February 2022.
The festival is a joint response to the climate and nature emergencies in the New Forest and ran for the first time last year.
Several thousand people took part in the 28 online events in 2021, while messages about the climate and nature emergencies reached 815,000 people.
This year it’s back and bigger than before with even more events, talks, guides and workshops showing what local organisations and community groups are doing to tackle the twin crises, and how we can all help.
Many events are online with some in person, ranging from wildlife talks and walks (Covid permitting) to a tree nursery visit, and workshops on how to reduce our own carbon footprint.
There’ll also be family-focused events to engage children about the New Forest’s rare habitats, and the chance to find out more about our wonderful local New Forest Marque producers.
The New Forest is a very special place. More than 50% of the area is of international importance for nature, and some sites have the highest possible conservation status.
It has the largest area of lowland heath in Western Europe, shaped by the free-roaming animals owned by commoners. Commoning is the traditional system of land management with rights attached to properties allowing people to turn ponies, cattle, sheep and pigs onto the open Forest.
The rare heathland and wetland habitats in the New Forest are havens for wildlife, some of which are declining in other parts of the UK.
Ground-nesting birds such as the curlew, Dartford warbler and mystical nightjar can all be found in the New Forest.
All six species of the UK’s native reptiles live here too, as well as 63% of Britain’s 24,000 types of insects, 75% of all dragonfly species and over 2,700 types of fungi.
The climate emergency is putting these fragile landscapes and habitats under threat, with hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters changing nature’s balance in the future.
The global crisis for nature is mainly due to land management practices, pollution and urban expansion. It is being worsened by a changing climate that is driving changes in the numbers and distribution of our wildlife species.
Land in the National Park is essential to mitigate climate change; sequestering and storing carbon, supporting wildlife, providing clean water and preventing flooding.
New Forest National Park Authority Chair Gavin Parker said: ‘We can all take action immediately to start reducing our carbon emissions, actions that will protect the National Park for future generations and help reach the target of the National Park being “Net Zero with Nature” by 2050.
‘The Festival is a real community effort with lots of opportunities to find out what people are already doing near you and how you can help make a difference, as well as discovering more about the New Forest.’
Join the hundreds of other people who have taken the New Forest Climate and Nature Challenge pledge at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/pledge
The New Forest Awakening Festival programme, with more events being added daily, is available here: www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/awakening
Also search for @newforestnpa for updates on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.