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New Forest Awakening Festival returns to tackle climate and nature emergencies

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A FESTIVAL of events next month will shine a light on how community groups are trying to tackle the climate emergency.

The New Forest Awakening Festival, organised by the national park authority, was held for the first time last year and saw several thousand people engage in 28 different online events.

This year's runs throughout February and will include online and in-person talks, guides and workshops about climate change and the threats faced by nature.

Sunrise at Mogshade Pond in Minstead
Sunrise at Mogshade Pond in Minstead

Wildlife walks in Lymington, Keyhaven and Fritham are planned as well as family-focused events to engage children about the area's rare habitats, plus the chance to find out more about the New Forest Marque producers.

NPA chair Gavin Parker said: "We can all take action immediately to start reducing our carbon emissions, actions that will protect the national park for future generations and help reach the target of being net zero with nature by 2050.

"The festival is a real community effort with lots of opportunities to find out what people are already doing near you and how you can help make a difference, as well as discovering more about the New Forest."

The Forest is a haven for wildlife, with more than 50% of international importance for nature, and some sites holding the highest conservation status. It has the largest area of lowland heath in western Europe, shaped by commoners' livestock.

A NPA spokesperson said: "The climate emergency is putting these fragile landscapes and habitats under threat, with hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters changing nature’s balance in the future.

"The global crisis for nature is mainly due to land management practices, pollution and urban expansion. It is being worsened by a changing climate that is driving changes in the numbers and distribution of our wildlife species.

"Land in the national park is essential to mitigate climate change: sequestering and storing carbon, supporting wildlife, providing clean water and preventing flooding."

For more details of the festival visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/awakening

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