Who runs the national park?

trees at Bolderwood

Who runs the New Forest National Park?

Here at the New Forest National Park Authority, we are often asked what the National Park is, why it was set up and who runs it. This page gives the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Who runs the National Park?

In the main the landowners are responsible for managing the land. So, for example, the Forestry Commission is responsible for looking after nearly half the New Forest National Park area.

In the New Forest, the Court of Verderers manages the traditional activity of commoning - the rights under which some property owners are entitled to let their ponies, donkeys, cattle, pigs or sheep roam free.

Various public authorities are responsible for setting polices and providing public services in the National Park area. These include:

  • Planning: New Forest National Park Authority
  • Roads: Hampshire County Council in Hampshire, Wiltshire Council in Wiltshire and the Highways Agency for 'trunk' roads and motorways i.e. the A31, A36 and M27
  • Public rights of way: Hampshire County Council in Hampshire and Wiltshire Council in Wiltshire
  • Public car parking: New Forest District Council, the Forestry Commission, Hampshire County Council
  • Tourism, business and economic development: New Forest District Council supported by New Forest National Park Authority
  • Collecting litter: Mostly New Forest District Council, although landowners such as the Forestry Commission also pay for collections in some areas
  • Disposing of/recycling waste: Hampshire County Council in Hampshire, Wiltshire Council in Wiltshire
  • Managing the land: The Forestry Commission manages the Crown lands in the New forest National Park - nearly half of the total area. Others who manage land include the National Trust, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Hampshire County Council and private landowners/estates
  • Commoning and common rights: The Verderers
  • Animal accidents: The police, the Verderers and the Forestry Commission (see emergency hotlines card) with awareness campaigns supported by New Forest National Park Authority.

Where is the New Forest National Park?

The New Forest National Park is mostly in south-west Hampshire although a small part of it around Redlynch and Landford is in Wiltshire.


When did the New Forest become a National Park?

March 2005.


Why make an area into a National Park?

The purposes of designating an area as a National Park are set down in a 1949 Act of Parliament. They are to make sure that:

  • the natural beauty, wildlife and history are protected
  • people can appreciate and enjoy it.

Who owns the National Park?

National Parks are not nationally owned. The land within them is mainly owned by private individuals, public bodies and voluntary organisations such as the National Trust. In the New Forest National Park the Forestry Commission manages nearly half of the area, including much of the best-known open land and forestry plantations, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Other significant landowners in the New Forest National Park include the National Trust, Hampshire County Council, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and private estates and landowners.


When is the New Forest National Park open?

All the time, although people sometimes think that there are entrance gates and charges.


What is the New Forest National Park Authority's job?

The National Park Authority is the body with overall responsibility for ensuring that the National Park is safeguarded for people to enjoy now and in the future.  It does this by:

  • Producing policy - including a National Park Plan which sets out the long-term vision for protecting things that make the National Park special and for making sure that people can continue to understand and enjoy them. The Plan describes what the National Park Authority can do itself and how it hopes others will help.
  • Planning - being the local planning authority within the National Park area with responsibility for matters such as planning policy, planning applications and tree preservation orders.
  • Funding and grants - using around £4m a year from central Government to deliver National Park purposes, including a Sustainable Communities Fund with tens of thousands of pounds a year to encourage innovative projects.
  • Delivering projects in the Forest - working with partners on conservation, recreation and information and leading on major initiatives.
  • Championing the Forest - listening to the diverse views in the New Forest, advising policy-makers and representing the National Park locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

What is the National Park Authority?

The National Park Authority is the body that makes key decisions about the delivery of National Park purposes. The decisions are made by 22 members, 12 of whom are elected to local authorities in the National Park, four elected by parish councils and appointed by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and six appointed by the Secretary of State to represent national views. The Authority employs 70 staff.


What are the things that make the New Forest National Park special?

There are many things including:

  • outstanding natural beauty
  • extraordinary diversity of plants and animals
  • unique historic, cultural and archaeological heritage
  • an historic commoning system
  • the iconic New Forest pony
  • tranquility
  • wonderful opportunities for quiet recreation, learning and discovery
  • a healthy environment
  • strong and distinctive local communities.

How many National Parks are there in the UK?

15, if you include the Broads Authority which is a member of the National Park family, although it has some different responsibilities. Find out more on our National Park family page.

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