Several Forest Holidays locations can be found in stunning National Parks across Britain. They understand that when people and nature come together, good things happen. The National Parks Futures partnership was born out of our understanding of the power of nature and our concerns over the lack of access to green spaces for many young people.
Together, we share an ambition to connect 20,000 young people with nature, both to improve their physical and mental health and well-being and to ensure that National Parks are valued, understood and cared for into the future.
In 2022, we’ve successfully run three projects across the country. The schemes have enabled young people to feel the benefits of connecting with nature, managing their own risks, leading their own adventures and enjoying the simple joy of exploring the great outdoors.
The Peak District National Park successfully piloted ‘Family Nature Connect Volunteering’, delivering a family volunteering programme linking with the John Muir Award. Families were targeted from urban communities around the National Park, allowing them to learn new skills, connect with nature, have fun and create lasting memories.
Some of the activities included scavenger hunts, outdoor picnics, listening to birds, mini-beast hunting, making a nature diary and estimating ages of trees.
The feedback was everything we had hoped it would be: ‘Parents reported a behaviour change in their children on the return home, a lot calmer and slept better at night’.
Little Larks Forest School, within Northumberland National Park, is a monthly National Park focussed Under 5’s Forest School programme. This is just the start of a child’s journey with nature, visiting, connecting and enjoying the National Park. By teaching children to understand nature and its wildlife, we inspire the next generation to love and look after our natural environment.
Finally, the ‘Wild connections youth project’ ran in the New Forest with the aim to allow young people experiences in wild spaces. The partnership provided the support needed for visits to the New Forest National Park, many will be visiting for the first time. The funding allowed young people in the area, the opportunity to visit the New Forest and take part in nature-connection activities, including animal tracking, geocaching, and learning how to put up a hammock.
This project allowed us to develop a better understanding of young people’s views on green opportunities within the National Park, and how they would like to engage in the future. Something that will help us to get more young people involved in the future.
It’s our ambition to grow our partnership and connect 20,000 young people with nature in the next five years. We’re proud of how far we’ve come in just a few short years and how many young people have benefited from working together. We’re looking forward to seeing Forest Holidays’ long-term commitment to ‘National Parks Futures’ flourish in years to come.