A NEW documentary exploring the New Forest and why its ancient woodlands are nationally important aired this week.
Presented by writer and environmentalist Peter Owen-Jones, Wild Woods followed a year in the life of the area and the people who work to preserve and protect it.
It was filmed by documentary makers Big Wave, in collaboration with the Forestry Commission and the New Forest National Park Authority and was broadcast on BBC Four on Wednesday. It can also be seen on the BBC iPlayer.
Big Wave had behind-the-scenes access to the New Forest during 2018, capturing it across the changing seasons from snow and storms to the long hot, dry summer.
Guided by Forestry Commission rangers and wildlife experts, the film-makers captured breath-taking images of rare wildlife such as goshawks, once almost driven to extinction but now making a comeback thanks to conservation work by the local team.
The film also explored the Forest’s famous wetland areas to understand what makes them one of the world’s most important habitats for the rarest plants and insects.
Mr Owen-Jones (pictured) said: “The New Forest is a timeless place – a rare window into the ‘Wild Wood’ that once covered much of the British Isles. I’ve always wondered how the Forest has survived in the middle of southern England for so long.
“Finding out more about the New Forest has revealed a remarkable story of how a landscape, its wildlife and people have evolved together.”
He added: ‘I would like to thank the Forestry Commission, the national park authority and all their staff who acted as my guides through this wonderful part of the UK.”
The programme also looked at the history of the Forest, the way it played a pivotal role as a source of timber for the Royal Navy and shipbuilding and the way of life of commoners.
The FC’s deputy surveyor, Bruce Rothnie, said: “This film helps to show what a special place the New Forest is and the unique habitat it provides for so many rare species of wildlife and plants.
“Our team of experts are out in the Forest every day, dedicated to working alongside nature to help preserve and protect this ancient woodland for future generations. We hope that people will enjoy seeing them share some of their passions and knowledge in this film.”
NPA chairman Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre said: “The New Forest is a most precious landscape that is under more pressure than ever before and now is the time to act.
“In 2019 we will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the legislation that created national parks in this country and will be encouraging everyone to get involved in our year of green action, supporting those who are conserving and enhancing the New Forest for future generations.”