The New Forest is a world capital for wildlife underpinned by an ancient tradition of free-roaming commoning animals. However, the New Forest is not immune to changes that have seen habitats lost and species decline. The funding will see partner organisations and landowners working together to enhance 250 hectares of land for nature across 25 sites – the equivalent of 350 football pitches. 

The partners are:

Partners will be supported by the RSPB and the New Forest Biodiversity Forum.

Dr Tony Gent, CEO of ARC said: 

The success of the Species Survival Fund bid offers a fantastic opportunity to improve habitats and to engage more people in nature conservation in the New Forest. Specifically for ARC this offers a significant opportunity for us to work with a wider range of partners to promote amphibians and reptiles and to safeguard these vital species and their habitats within the National Park.  Our collaborative efforts will help to ensure the ecological integrity of unique ecosystems in one of England's most iconic natural areas for generations to come.

New Forest National Park wildlife quick facts

The National Park is home to an incredible variety of plants and animals. Many of these species are as rare and magnificent as animals you might go to see on safari - just in miniature. They’re often hard to see so most of us won’t encounter them or appreciate what’s beneath our feet. 

They include:

  • over 15,000 species of insect (two-thirds of the UK total)
  • 44 species of mammal (including 13 of the 18 UK bat species)
  • at least 12 species of reptile and amphibian
  • a third of British wildflower species
  • over 70% of British dragonfly species breed here
  • 46 nationally and internationally rare plant species
  • the UK hotspot for rare breeding birds such as curlew and Dartford warbler

Conservation work will see an increased abundance of wildlife species and improve the connection of the New Forest’s protected central core or Crown Lands with the areas around it so species can spread out further. Woodland, boggy mires, heathland, meadow, wetlands and streams will be improved. New ponds, wetlands and meadows will be created. The programme will also help New Forest habitats to become more resilient to climate change.

The new and retained staff, volunteers and interns will help with practical landscape improvements for wildlife as well as carrying out surveys. They will also share ways to improve areas for nature with other landowners and communities through demonstration sites, working with the Forest’s community green groups, guided walks, talks and online campaigns. A large part of the project also focuses on education and outreach, increasing nature literacy for young people in locations such as the New Forest Reptile Centre

Nationally the fund will create and improve natural habitats, helping Defra to meet its target to protect 30% of land for nature by 2030 (known as ‘30by30’).