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New Forest's Halo partnership celebrates first anniversary of environmental work

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Green Halo delegates with New Forest National Park Authority chief executive Alison Barnes (front, third right)
Green Halo delegates with New Forest National Park Authority chief executive Alison Barnes (front, third right)

THE first anniversary of an innovative partnership aiming to boost the natural environment was marked with a conference attended by more than 70 delegates.

The Green Halo Partnership brings together groups from across central southern England to protect and enhance ‘natural capital’ – the benefits derived from nature such as clean air and water, protection from flooding, food and healthy outdoor activities.

At the conference, projects including proposals for a new coastal country park in Christchurch were discussed during key note speeches and a series of workshops.

The partnership, which convenor, New Forest National Park Authority chief executive Alison Barnes, says works to connect people from across sectors who had a shared vision, has received wide-ranging support over the last 12 months, with architects, wildlife charities, councils, utility businesses, health bodies, universities and civil engineering firms among those signed up so far.

This year’s event hosted several representatives from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), including Green Finance Team programme manager Daniel Barwick.

Discussing Defra’s work, he said: “Everyone across society has to play a part in trying to improve the natural environment within a generation… National Parks are an exemplar of driving the natural capital approach at a local level.”

Key note speeches were followed by workshops tackling on issues such as design in natural capital as part of the planning process, with the sustainable welcome centre at Paulton’s Park in Ower held up as an excellent example.

Southampton City Council was praised for its efforts to improve air quality through consulting on a clean air zone and greening the city.

Attendees heard there was overwhelming evidence that connecting with the natural world can improve health and wellbeing.

Ms Barnes said: “From our discussions at the conference, I think people and communities recognise the value of the natural environment and are reaching a point where they are demanding nature in their lives for its own sake and for the many benefits it brings us.

“Our partnership’s embedding it in their work and catalysing projects which help unlock the benefits that nature gives us, and in doing this help to ensure our environment is able to thrive and sustain us into the future.

"Over the next year we will be looking to partners to generate ideas and initiate projects across the south of England that put natural capital at their heart.”

For more information or to enquire about becoming a partner, visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/greenhalo

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