About the National Park

trees at Bolderwood

The New Forest became a National Park in 2005 - it's one of 15 National Parks in the UK and part of a worldwide movement.

National Parks UK map

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


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 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 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 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.

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