Page 13 - Forest Row Local November Edition
P. 13

maintaining the Forest whilst mitigating against wider change? We must go through a process. We must lay out why the Forest is important. We must explain that it needs our help. We must then lay out a plan on how we will support the Forest.
We believe that a key focus will be on the health, both physical and mental, of all our visitors. This will need considerably enhanced levels of engagement. We have seen the use of the Forest by the public grow steadily in recent years and monitoring suggests 1.4 million visits were made during 2016. The number
of visits increased greatly during the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020/21 with the Forest remaining open throughout challenging lockdowns. We want to enhance the experience for our visitors and provide
a welcoming environment that is rich in wildlife,
while offering activity and adventure and peace and tranquillity in equal measure. We will help our local visitors in treasuring the Forest whilst assisting our visitors from further afield to create lasting memories.
As a location that benefits hugely from local people and students’ research, we will strive for National Nature Reserve (NNR) status, the last major designation that the Forest lacks. NNRs were established to protect some of England’s most important habitats, species and geology, and to provide ‘outdoor laboratories’ for research. NNRs offer opportunities to schools, specialist interest groups and the public to experience wildlife at first hand and to learn more about nature conservation.
In our vision we set
out three aims that meet our binding obligations to protect and enhance the unique heathland environment of Ashdown Forest whilst also delivering
on our commitment
to providing the
largest open-access, wildlife-rich place in
the Southeast. We have grouped our work under these three aims:
1. Protect, enhance and broaden – this is all about the management of the Forest whilst recognising that it does not exist in isolation.
November 2021 • Forest Row Local 13
If the land around the Forest does not support biodiversity or allow wildlife to move, then the Forest is diminished.
2. Collaborate and engage – we want to work more closely with local communities, schools and anyone interested in caring for the Forest. We cannot manage the Forest alone and there are so many local people with skills and enthusiasm who want to help.
3. Welcome and inspire – we meet only a fraction of the visitors to the Forest a year. Yet they nearly all come here because they believe that the Forest is important and that it gives something to them and their families. We want to engage more and inspire them to become advocates for Ashdown Forest wherever they are in the world.
It is clear to all of us that this remarkable place needs our care now more than ever and the upcoming vision document sets out how we will start to honour that commitment.
 01342 889 455
 The full vision and strategy is available on our website
Photo Credits: Craig Payne

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