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New Forest campaigners celebrate £2.9m conservation grant
CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating a multi-million-pound grant that will help preserve the New Forest’s unique landscape for future generations.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has made a £2.9m contribution to a new project that aims to achieve a raft of conservation goals, including the restoration of lost habitats and historic buildings.
The seven-year New Forest Landscape Partnership (NFLP) will be led by the National Park Authority (NPA) and ten other organisations in the district.
They are planning to contribute their own funding to the project, resulting in a total budget of £4.5m.
Their main objectives include restoring ancient landscapes and waterways, enhancing traditional Forest skills and inspiring a new generation to champion the area’s heritage.
Measures to tackle the problems caused by climate change, population growth and creeping urbanisation are also due to be drawn up by the NFLP.
Stuart McLeod, head of HLF South East, described the New Forest as one of the most distinctive landscapes in the country.
He added: “Sadly both the countryside and its accompanying way of life are now under increasing pressure and if urgent action isn’t taken their future could be threatened.”
NPA member Marian Spain hailed the HLF grant as “wonderful news” for the Forest, adding: “We and our partners have been working together to enhance the special qualities of this unique area with a number of small projects such as the Better Boundaries scheme, which creates wildlife corridors to connect the Forest with the Avon Valley.
“The grant means we can carry out work across the whole National Park to enhance its special landscapes and protect the wildlife.”
Plans to improve the landscape were also welcomed by the Commoners’ Defence Association (CDA), which represents the owners of the ponies and cattle that graze the Forest.
CDA chairman Graham Ferris said that it would preserve traditional skills as well as providing training and support for young Commoners.
Historic buildings due to be restored include the Verderers Hall in Lyndhurst.
Said to be the oldest functioning court in the country, the building is opened once a month to enable residents to raise any concerns about the way the Forest is being run.
Forestry Commission deputy surveyor Michael Seddon said: “The Forestry Commission is particularly excited about the opportunity to restore certain heritage aspects such as the Verderers Court, enabling it to be opened up to the public and ensuring its historic features can be enjoyed by all.”
Money will also be used to restore an ice house on the Beaulieu estate and a weir that supplied a gunpowder factory at Fritham.
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