“No one will protect what they don't care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced” Sir David Attenborough
Wild New Forest are pleased to announce that bookings for our first guided wildlife tours in the New Forest National Park are now open, with the first tours available next weekend (19/20 Sept) and then daily for an initial period of four weeks. Our walking and cycling tours are designed to ‘inform, involve and inspire’ residents and visitors alike about the special wildlife of the New Forest, while also incorporating information about local history, conservation issues, and responsible recreation including the New Forest Code. Whether you are a beginner or expert, our tours are designed to be both informative and fun!
Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, we will initially only be offering scheduled tours that operate out of the main New Forest hubs of Brockenhurst, Burley, Lyndhurst and Lymington; these hubs all have suitable infrastructure and facilities including public toilets and cycle hire outlets, and both Brockenhurst and Lymington are connected to the rail network. By offering one walk and one cycle out of each hub each week, we hope to reduce the requirement for clients to travel by car, helping reduce carbon emissions.
Tours will be led by the Wild New Forest Directors and local wildlife enthusiasts, Russell Wynn and Marcus Ward (pictured above), who have both been busy in recent days checking routes and identifying interesting wildlife features to share with clients. Walking tours are about 8 km (5 miles) in length, while cycling tours offer the chance to explore further afield and are about 20 km (12 miles) in length. All tours take about three hours and are undertaken at a relaxed pace on safe routes that are nearly entirely off road. Our intention is to offer a wider range of tours including accessible routes and bespoke tours in the coming weeks.
Group sizes for our scheduled tours will be limited to one leader and five clients in line with current UK Government guidelines. We have completed a detailed risk assessment to ensure the safety of our clients and other forest users and are confident that our tours will offer significant health and well-being benefits. Despite the commercial constraints of small group sizes, we remain committed to encouraging the next generation of wildlife enthusiasts and will therefore be accepting children aged ten and under at no charge.
Our New Forest wildlife tours are operated under Forestry England permit, and the routes have all been carefully designed to minimise impacts on the forest while maximising opportunities for clients to experience fantastic scenery and encounter exciting wildlife. Clients can book in confidence knowing that we have comprehensive public liability insurance in place and have undergone advanced DBS checks; Russ has also recently completed an ITC Outdoor First Aid training course at Calshot Activity Centre, and Marcus is booked in for early November.
Full details of our guided tours can be found here:
Wild New Forest is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company that is committed to working for wildlife in the New Forest National Park. As well as our wildlife research portfolio and commercial consulting and educational activities, we have been delivering community benefit in recent months by:
· providing free advice and wildlife surveys to local residents engaged in or considering wildlife enhancement projects on their land within the National Park
· providing expert training (under British Trust for Ornithology licence) to several local trainee bird ringers
· providing a hub for local wildlife sightings and conservation issues via our blog and social media, including the Wild New Forest Facebook page that now has over 4000 members
· providing illustrated talks on New Forest wildlife to local organisations
· raising community awareness of topical conservation issues by engaging with local, regional and national media - examples this year include stories on untreated sewage flowing down New Forest rivers, impacts of verge parking on sensitive habitats and species, and out-of-control dogs chasing deer and livestock.
In previous years we have also delivered residential New Forest Wildlife Camps for young wildlife enthusiasts, sponsored by the Cameron Bespolka Trust, and have engaged local volunteers of all ages in our long-term wildlife research, survey and monitoring work - we intend to resume these activities again next year if circumstances allow.