Messages about the climate and nature crises in the National Park reached an audience of 815,000 people thanks to the online New Forest Awakening Festival, which ran throughout February.
The first festival of its kind in the New Forest was led by the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA), with a range of organisations, businesses and charities holding 28 virtual events which were free to everyone to join throughout the month.
The aim was to help share why the New Forest is so special, its role in the climate and nature emergencies, what people are already doing to protect it, and how everyone can help.
Events from NPA staff and partners included a conversation on commoning; a presentation about the RSPB’s Franchises Lodge nature reserve; woodland storytelling; a seed show; a talk on the importance of heathlands; a bee workshop; a live tour of a commoner’s holding; and Instagram takeovers by rangers looking at the Forest’s special qualities.
Many events requiring tickets were at capacity, with 1,074 attending webinars and Facebook Live sessions.
Overall, messages about the climate and nature emergencies were seen by over 815,000 people; while nearly 70,000 people engaged with the online posts or events (attended webinars, viewed videos, commented, liked or shared posts).
The NPA was keen to target new and younger audiences and it reached 72,000 people with its posts on Instagram (half of people on Instagram are aged 34 or younger).
On the back of the Awakening Festival, the NPA also launched a new series of online climate assemblies for schools, and a small grants scheme for schools and community groups to apply for funding to kickstart their climate change and nature projects.
New Forest National Park Authority Chairman Prof. Gavin Parker said: ‘We’re thrilled at how many people supported our online festival. Through various digital platforms we were able to continue to share important messages to a wide audience both in and outside the National Park. We’d like to thank everyone who got involved and make it such a success, and we are looking to build on it next year and make it an annual festival.’