The UK’s National Parks and Forest Holidays are working together on ‘National Park Futures’, a 5-year programme that will connect over 20,000 young people with nature. The aim is to inspire the next generation to care for and protect our precious National Parks, as well as improving their well-being through time spent in nature.
Over the next 5 years, thanks to the partnership with Forest Holidays, ‘National Parks Futures’ will deliver at least 15 flagship education projects reaching 5,000 young people as well as covering the travel costs of an estimated 15,000 National Park visits for young people.
In 2019, ‘National Parks Futures’ will support three projects that will see young people exploring and learning about the outdoors:
Cairngorms National Park - ‘Rural Skills Day’ – a hands-on Rural Skills Day offering school children a unique opportunity to learn more about what a career in woodlands or forestry entails. As part of the Cairngorms Nature BIG Weekend, the Skills Day will feature people working in a variety of land based careers demonstrating their skills from sustainable timber processing to green woodworking and bush craft. Professionals working in Forestry, Fishing, Farming, Estate Management, Environmental Education, Conservation, Tourism, Recreation and Health & Wellbeing will spend a day with up to 300 school children to give a taster of what working in rural landscapes could mean for them.
Exmoor National Park - The ‘Reaching Out’ initiative supporting two residential trips from urban schools. Experience has shown that for many young people a residential experience in a special place can be a transformative experience but for many schools the cost of a residential visit can be prohibitive.
South Downs National Park - Support towards the ‘John Muir Families Outreach Programme’ – funding will be used to expand the range of activities available to families. For young people and families who have had little access to wild places, the Programme offers ways to share new and positive experiences. In addition, by experiencing the outdoors together, families are more likely to use them in the future.
Pilot Year in 2018
A successful pilot year in 2018 funded the involvement of 5,000 young people in activities run by their local National Park and included many from disadvantaged backgrounds. One pilot year location was the Brecon Beacons National Park. Simon Hosking, a teacher at Ysgol Y Cribarth Primary School says “By receiving the travel grant our pupils have been able to access a learning opportunity in the great outdoors. We have loved learning more about the Brecon Beacons National Park and what makes our local area so special.”
Cat Hawkins, Chair, National Parks Partnerships said:
“Connecting young people with nature takes time, expertise and funding. Forest Holidays’ long-term commitment to ‘National Parks Futures’ will enable thousands of young people to experience learning in amazing natural settings. Forest Holidays share our ambition to improve lives through connecting to nature, and thanks to them, ‘National Parks Futures’ will help to inspire the next generation to love and care for our precious landscapes.”
Bruce McKendrick, CEO of Forest Holidays, said:
“The UK’s National Parks are breathtaking and inspiring landscapes that we should all be proud of. Our generation has a responsibility to offer young people the opportunity to experience these places first hand and it’s a pleasure to observe the positive impact spending time in nature provides. For too many young people there are practical challenges of accessing places like this and we are committed to changing that. Most young people care deeply about the world they live in and as more and more make their voices and passions clear, it’s important that we all listen and respond in meaningful ways.”
Grant Moir, CEO of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said:
“This partnership with Forest Holidays means that school children and young adults who live in and around the UK’s largest and most northerly National Park can benefit from first-hand experience of rural skills that care for our natural world. It will encourage the younger generation who are considering their future career options to think about opportunities which allows them to live and work in rural communities and to get more involved with nature.”
Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive Officer, Exmoor National Park Authority, said
“We are delighted that Forest Holidays is supporting our work providing opportunities for young people from a wide range of backgrounds to visit Exmoor, be inspired by, and learn about our amazing landscapes, wildlife and heritage. This funding will enable us to offer a full residential experience at our Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning to young people from schools from more urban settings who have not visited before and we are really looking forward to welcoming them.”
Trevor Beattie, Chief Executive of the South Downs National Park Authority, said:
“John Muir was one of the founding fathers of the National Park conservation movement and his legacy lives on today by inspiring people of all ages to get close to nature. The partnership with Forest Holidays will support a brand-new initiative in the South Downs, allowing us to expand the range of activities we are able to offer families. Our new John Muir Outreach Programme will encourage families to connect with, enjoy, and care for the South Downs, its special landscape and incredible biodiversity. With two million people living within 5km of our National Park, we know this support will make a real difference and allow many more people to benefit from the many health, well-being and educational opportunities in the South Downs.”
The National Parks currently participating in this programme are; Brecon Beacons, Broads, Cairngorms, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, New Forest, North York Moors, Northumberland, Peak District, Pembrokeshire Coast, South Downs and the Yorkshire Dales.