Main image: Young people at Lepe beach on a Junior Rangers session with the New Forest NPA
The New Forest National Park Authority is celebrating receiving £1.4 million to connect young people to nature and help communities across the region tackle climate change.
The Youth for Climate and Nature scheme (YouCAN) has secured a £1.2 million Climate Action Fund grant from The National Lottery Community Fund – the largest community funder in the UK – and a further £264,000 in match funding from partners.
Aimed at 11- to 25-year-olds, the scheme will strengthen young people’s connection to nature, and deepen their understanding of what drives environmental behaviour change.
It will enable the development of nature-focused campaigns in local communities, spanning an area of 300 square miles across the New Forest, Southampton, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, covering a mix of urban, rural, coastal and freshwater habitats.
Youth-led and co-created activities will include junior ranger programmes, volunteer opportunities, habitat improvements, climate cafés, composting, food growing, waste reduction, walking and cycling in nature, plus internships providing experience in green skills and jobs.
Lead partner New Forest National Park Authority will work alongside the Countryside Education Trust in Beaulieu; Freshwater Habitats Trust; The Parks Foundation in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole; Southampton National Park City project; Theatre for Life and care and support charity Alabaré to deliver the scheme over three years, starting in October 2023.
‘We know our communities and young people are eager to tackle the climate and nature emergencies and there is already a great deal of activity in this area. The YouCAN scheme represents an unprecedented opportunity to secure a step-change towards sustainable living in the National Park and beyond, and this investment will give us tools, resources, knowledge and networks to move forward at pace.
’YouCAN aligns with our National Park Partnership Plan themes of climate, nature, people and place, and the funding will allow us to develop a 10-year plan for climate action with partners so that we can continue to work together beyond the three-year scheme.’
PROF. GAVIN PARKER
Chair of the New Forest National Park Authority
The aim of the scheme, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, is to reach new audiences with a wide, interactive events programme, including residential stays, refugee visits and workshops with local artists and climate scientists to develop a theatre production and community tour.
A youth advisory board will help to shape the project, while young people will be given further opportunities to have their voices heard through content creation, sound recordings and photography.
Young people will benefit from a raft of existing experience through events, mentoring and skill-sharing opportunities, as well as an early green careers network.
The scheme will help them work with their own communities so a wider range of ages can take action for climate and nature together.
‘The funding will enable us to increase the scale and reach of our existing green opportunities for young people from all backgrounds to connect to nature and take action to tackle the climate and nature emergencies. Importantly, it will empower young people, giving them new skills to take forward to help understand and protect these amazing spaces across the south.’
New Forest National Park Authority’s Lead Education and Youth Officer