Putting the Forest first

Cold sunny autumn forest

The Forest infrastructure put in place in the 1960s and '70s was a significant and pivotal moment in the Forest’s history. Many believe we’re now at that point again.

If they aren’t well managed, outdoor activities (such as walking, cycling, horse riding, camping or parking a vehicle) can accidentally cause damage to the very places that people want to enjoy.

Over time this harm could:

  • cause erosion of sensitive habitats such as ponds, stream banks, lawns, bogs, mires, chalk streams, coastal mudflats and ancient woodlands
  • disturb rare breeding, feeding and roosting birds on coastal mudflats and saltmarsh, or open heathland
  • impact on other rare and threatened species such as wild gladioli, smooth snakes and southern damselflies
  • erode paths and grazed verges
  • reduce the tranquillity in remote areas
  • cause more litter
  • interfere with important Forest management such as commoning or forestry operations.

Instead, we want to find ways to work together to encourage and enable people to enjoy the New Forest and nearby areas in ways and in locations that minimise these negative consequences.

It’s time for all of us who use the Forest to take responsibility and acknowledge these challenges. This is why we need your help to agree the way forward.

Much has already been achieved and many of the 61 actions in the Recreation Management Strategy (2010 - 2030) are still relevant. Six of these, relating to working together and collecting better information will certainly continue.

However, from the remaining 55 actions aimed at managing recreation, we need to agree a small number of high priority tasks that will make a real difference (above the ‘business as usual’ work), including some that will doubtless require further public debate.

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