the New Forest
The New Forest National Park is one of the most important wildlife habitats in the UK and Europe. Roughly one-quarter of the park area of 566 km2 comprises broadleaved woodland, containing ancient oak and beech trees that are hundreds of years old. But it is more than just a forest, and included within the park is the largest remaining area of lowland heath in Europe (over 150 km2). In fact, if you walk from north to south across the New Forest, you will pass through a rich mosaic of ancient woodlands, heaths, bogs, lawns, streams, farmland, pretty villages, plantations, and coastal marshes, over half of which is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Although it is now protected from major development, the park’s coastal location in central southern England (surrounded by major cities and associated infrastructure) inevitably means it is under increasing pressure from human activities, including noise pollution from cars, planes and trains, recreational disturbance, litter, wildfires, and land-use changes.
Despite these pressures, the New Forest hosts an incredible variety of flora and fauna, including over 15,000 species of insect (two-thirds of the UK total), 2700 species of fungi, 44 species of mammal (including 13 bat species), at least 12 species of reptile and amphibian, and is the UK hotspot for rare breeding birds such as Honey Buzzard, Nightjar, Woodlark and Dartford Warbler.
However, many of these animals are hard to see, and most people living in or visiting the New Forest will never encounter charismatic species such as Red Deer, Pine Marten, Smooth Snake, Sand Lizard, Goshawk, Hawfinch, Emperor Moth and Raft Spider. This can make it harder for people to appreciate and care for these special animals, and also means that data on some of these species are very sparse.
Wild New Forest
Wild New Forest was established in 2016 by Marcus Ward and Russell Wynn with the primary aim of supporting wildlife conservation action in the New Forest National Park, through field-based recording, survey and photography of the local fauna. A secondary aim was to responsibly share information about New Forest wildlife, in order to assist and inspire others to discover and protect this special place. To date, we have co-ordinated major research programmes on endangered species such as Curlew and Hawfinch, working with and providing vital data to management bodies such as Forestry England, and contributing to national initiatives, e.g. the lowland England Curlew Forum. We have raised awareness of the special qualities of the New Forest and the iconic wild animals found within it, including features on Curlew on BBC Countryfile and Pine Marten on BBC Inside Out, as well as conservation issues and threats to local wildlife. We also provide regular talks and field trips, operate popular WNF Facebook and Twitter pages, and deliver an annual Young Persons Wildlife Camp sponsored by the Cameron Bespolka Trust.
Wild New Forest was incorporated as a Community Interest Company (CIC) in 2020 to ensure continuity of existing survey and monitoring activities and to enable a wider portfolio of wildlife consultancy, public engagement and educational activities to be introduced. Marcus and Russ are Directors of the new CIC, and chose a 'not-for-profit' business model to ensure that environmental and public benefit are at the heart of all WNF activities. Recent developments include provision of guided wildlife walks and cycle tours, and a range of community benefit activities.
Our partners and sponsors
We work closely with the main management bodies in the New Forest National Park, including Forestry England and the National Park Authority, providing them with high-quality wildlife data and evidence to support their management and conservation programmes
We are grateful to the New Forest Association, the Cameron Bespolka Trust and Hampshire Ornithological Society for sponsoring and supporting our research projects and educational activities.
Click on the logos below for more info about our partners and sponsors