The New Forest National Park Authority is inviting green groups to apply for grants to help fund sustainable living projects in the National Park.
Since 2006 around £2.4 million in grants has funded over 300 projects that help protect the New Forest’s precious landscape and tackle the climate and nature crises.
Grants of up to £2,000 are available from the Sustainable Communities Fund (SCF) for projects which improve wildlife and habitats, reduce carbon emissions or connect new groups of people to nature.
Schools, youth groups, and other organised community groups and charities that are either based within the New Forest National Park or include people who live within the boundary can apply.
Some examples of projects recently supported include:
The set-up of Minstead community shop run by volunteers
Changes to the lighting and heating at Bramshaw Scout Hut to improve the building’s energy efficiency and reduce its carbon emissions
Around 400 square metres of wildflower meadows created across eight areas in the National Park, along with native planting, improvements to wooded areas, hedgehog homes, bug hotels, bird feeders, fat balls and seed, as well as improvements to rainwater collection and composting
A local volunteer group to survey and monitor slow worms within churchyards in the National Park.
Minstead Shop received a £2,000 SCF grant in 2020 to help set up the village shop in a building next to the Trusty Servant pub after the previous store closed down. The nearest shop would otherwise be several miles away so keeping a local community facility and selling local produce helps reduce food miles and carbon emissions.
Committee member Alan Ferguson said: ‘When the old shop shut it was quite a blow for the community. Now we have over 30 volunteers running the shop and it gets a lot of support from locals and visitors. I think it has helped bring the community together and has become a bit of a meeting point for people. We raised a lot of money from people buying shares but also had some grants and the SCF money has been a huge help.
‘We sell essentials, a wide range of local produce from the New Forest and delicious hot drinks and cakes. We benefit from being a National Park Local Information Point and offer a range of useful maps and leaflets.’
New Forest National Park Authority Member John Sanger said: ‘We have committed to ensure the National Park is net zero by 2050. That means we need a huge community effort to work with nature to reduce our carbon footprint.
‘The Sustainable Communities Fund is one way we at the National Park Authority can help support our schools, villages and communities to adapt to reduce emissions and make the National Park more resilient in the face of the effects of climate change. A large number of small, individual actions can really make a difference.’