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.
Thanks to Forest Holidays, over the course of the partnership, ‘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’ supported three projects that saw young people exploring and learning about the outdoors:
Cairngorms National Park
‘Rural Skills Day’ – A hands-on Rural Skills Day which offered school children a unique opportunity to learn more about what a career in rural landscapes entails. As part of the Cairngorms Nature BIG Weekend, the Skills Day featured 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 spent time with 300 school children, giving them a taster of what working in rural landscapes could mean for them.
Exmoor National Park
The ‘Reaching Out’ Initiative – 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. The ‘Reaching Out’ initiative supported 3 day/2 night residential trips for three urban schools giving students the chance to:
• Discover what a National Park is – and why Exmoor is one.
• Experience spending time in Exmoor’s Landscape.
• Develop skills and confidence.
• Spend a night away from home (for many – for the first time).
South Downs National Park
Support towards the ‘John Muir Families Outreach Programme’ – funding was 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.
Forest Holidays are nestled in beautiful corners of the UK’s forests. Guests can choose between eleven inspiring locations, five of which are in National Parks. Two are located on the shores of Lochs in Scotland, one is tucked away in Snowdonia and the remaining eight are dotted around the English countryside. Forest Holidays cabins are a unique and a pioneering design which works in harmony with the forest around them.
It’s a holiday where you can unwind in nature, knowing the forest is properly looked-after too. Adventures can be enjoyed in the hidden gems of the British countryside, and there’s a cosy cabin ready and waiting for your return. Over 97%* of guests feel that a Forest Holidays break has a positive impact on their well-being and connected them with nature and 85.4%* of guests spend time exploring the local area (*CSN scores, June 2019).
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.