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The South Downs National Park has become designated and includes over 5,800 hectares of woodland and open landscape, which is managed by the Forestry Commission.
Spanning some of the most beautiful countryside from woodland areas in Hampshire to the white chalk heathland near Eastbourne, the Forestry Commission manages large areas of this landscape.
Working in strategic partnership with a wide range of government and non- government organisations, charities and local communities, the Forestry Commission will support the South Downs National Park Authority in its task to conserve and enhance the area.
The Forestry Commission is already helping to enhance this much loved landscape and its’ wildlife through active woodland management across the South Downs. It also provides recreation and education facilities to enable the general public, to fully enjoy what the National Park has to offer.
Countryside education and recreation are central to Forestry Commission policy, to put woodlands at the heart of the community as a place to meet, play, learn and exercise. Alice Holt Forest is one of its most popular destinations attracting over 290,000 visitors a year and is the northern gateway to the new National Park.
A new, mostly off-road, leisure and commuter route linking Alice Holt Forest with Queen Elizabeth Country Park and the South Downs Way is also proposed to provide sustainable transport links with the National Park.
The Shipwrights Way, the name of the new route, will be suitable for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders and is supported by East Hampshire District Council, Hampshire County Council and CTC (the national cyclists’ organisation).
An accredited Learning Outside the Classroom provider, the Forestry Commission’s education team works with more than 12,500 children and adults each year to increase understanding of the role of trees, woodlands and forests.
David Williamson, the director of the Forestry Commission in the South East, said:
”We are thrilled to be part of the new National Park. The identity of this beautiful landscape is one of diversity, which is very fitting for both the communities it supports and its wildlife. It also ties in well with the International Year of Biodiversity, which is being celebrated worldwide this year. We offer our years of experience and knowledge of landscape management to the South Downs National Park Authority to support them in their task now and in the years ahead.”
Forestry Commission in the South Downs National Park
Here below are some of the Forestry Commission projects and initiatives in the new South Downs National Park.
Alice Holt Forest, near Farnham, Surrey
Alice Holt Forest is a much-loved forest, which provides opportunities for play, recreation, exercise, adventure and relaxation. The Forestry Commission maintains over eight miles of waymarked trails and provides natural spaces and outdoor play structures for children to explore.
The Cycling For All project provides opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to improve their health and well being through cycling. The partnership between CTC, the national cyclists organisation, East Hampshire District Council and the Forestry Commission has been so successful that Alice Holt Forest is now regarded by CTC as a national centre of excellence for cycling. It has been used as an example of best practice for other projects including one at Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield.
Rogate Wood, near Petersfield, Hampshire
The success of the Cycling For All partnership with CTC has also led to a project at Rogate Wood near Petersfield to create mountain bike trails that are fun, safe and attractive to riders of all ages.
West Walk Woodland, near Wickham, Hampshire
In the Forest of Bere, the Forestry Commission is working with Winchester City Council in partnership on the ‘It’s Okay to Play’ project encouraging children to play in natural environments to benefit health and well-being. At West Walk Woods Big Lottery Funding has been used for an exciting natural playground to encourage adventurous play.
Selhurst, Eartham Wood and Charlton Forest, West Sussex
In Selhurst, Eartham Wood and Charlton Forest, The Forestry Commission has opened up two car parks for horseboxes, enabling horse riders to access these woodlands on the South Downs Way.
Rewell Wood, near Arundel, West Sussex
The Forestry Commission is also at the forefront of efforts to conserve and restore populations of threatened and declining species, including woodland butterflies across the South Downs among many others. At Rewell Wood near Arundel, it is maintaining a key population of the Pearl-Bordered Fritillary Butterfly and breeding stock has been successfully relocated to Abbot’s Wood in East Sussex also part of the National Park.
Friston Forest, near Eastbourne, East Sussex On the eastern tip of the National Park the Forestry Commission is working with the Sussex Wildlife Trust, South East Water and Natural England to protect England’s largest surviving fragment of chalk heath at Friston Forest adjacent to Lullington National Nature Reserve. Traditional breeds of cattle have been introduced for naturalistic grazing as part of a programme of pasture woodland creation.
NOTES TO EDITORS
About the South Downs National Park
Covering an area over 1600km2, the South Downs National Park is the tenth National Park to be designated in England, offering an area of protected countryside that everyone can visit and enjoy. The famous South Downs Way, loved by walkers, cyclists and horse riders, stretches the entire 160 km length of the Park from Winchester in Hampshire to the white chalk cliffs of Beachy Head, near Eastbourne.
The South Downs National Park Authority is the lead organisation responsible for promoting the purposes of the National Park, working in partnership with other Local Authorities and organisations.
About the Forestry Commission
The Forestry Commission manages over 250,000 hectares (600,000 acres) of woodlands in England. Most of this land is open for public access and the Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in the country. For further information visit www.forestry.gov.uk/southeastengland
The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.
Jo Spouncer, on behalf of the Forestry Commission
Tel: 01420 23666 Mob: 07828 762045