The New Forest has a long and proud history of commoning: the system whereby even today certain people have the right to release animals onto the open forest and collect firewood. It has given the forest its mosaic of grazed habitats and influences many aspects of the local communities.
Although common rights were once widespread in Britain and Europe, they have been lost in many areas due to the enclosure of common land and the demise of former royal forests. The New Forest remains one of the few extensive lowland commons where rights are still widely practised and a strong commoning culture continues.
The challenge is to enable commoning to thrive alongside greatly increased neighbouring populations, a vibrant and important tourism economy, increased traffic, and rising land and house prices.
Find out more about Europe's largest HLS scheme, supporting commoning and New Forest habitats.