Shopping to save the Forest

Conservation gets some retail therapy
Is it possible that shopping can help to save the New Forest? Well, it’s not as strange as it sounds.

The New Forest National Park has launched its own on-line shop called ‘The Forest Store’ selling gifts inspired by the landscape and wildlife of the National Park.

Every purchase supports the work of the National Park Authority in looking after the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the New Forest so that people can continue to appreciate and enjoy it.

So, in that sense, shopping can save the Forest!

This is not a panic reaction to budget cuts and the state of public finances; the Forest Store has been a year in the planning.

Most national parks have shops in visitor centres and on their websites – they are expected and enjoyed by the public and make a contribution to looking after these special places at the same time.

All of the items in the Forest Store have been produced specially for the National Park – you won’t find them anywhere else – and each has a message or imagery that evokes the New Forest.

There are three distinctive ranges: Forest Life which includes clothing and gifts; Forest Tribe for children and the young-at-heart; and Forest Active for the great outdoors.

For example, there are books, cards and canvas prints featuring beautiful photographs of the New Forest.

Novel items include a Forest trumps card game, a recycled Frisbee and a magic photo mug that reveals a Forest picture when hot liquid is poured into it.

Great outdoor items range from a waterproof that doubles as a groundsheet to a welly bag and from a bike-seat cover to an ice-scraper, all with special New Forest messages.

There is also an attractive range of colourful T-shirts with chic designs inspired by the New Forest’s plants and animals.

Given the National Park Authority’s ‘green’ remit, the products have been chosen for their environmental credentials too. The T-shirts, for instance, use organic cotton and water-based inks, while the ice-scraper is made from recycled UK number plates.

The aim is that the Forest Store will appeal to visitors and those of us who live and work here whether we are looking for memories to take home, gifts for friends or a treat for ourselves.

And if you make a purchase every penny of profit will go back into work such as support for commoning, helping to prevent animal accidents and caring for the landscape that we all enjoy.

Martin O'Neill