Helping to shape the future of the Forest

Published Thursday 8 December 2005

More than 120 people met at Beaulieu Abbey yesterday (Wed 7 December) to help the National Park Authority set its priorities for the next two years.

The early evening event brought together organisations and individuals with an interest in the future of the New Forest National Park. Comments and suggestions made at the meeting will be considered by the Authority when future policy and action is decided. The evening was led by Ted Johnson, Chairman of the National Park Authority and its Chief Executive, Lindsay Cornish, with many of the Authority's members lending a hand.

Those present were given a list of 17 proposals being considered by the Authority as immediate priorities, to discuss and rank into highest and lowest priority for the Authority to tackle. These included issues as diverse as developing an integrated network of footpaths and cycle routes, producing a co-ordinated strategy for education about the National Park and supporting projects to revitalise village centre businesses.

Among the proposals which gained widest support were: developing strategies and support schemes to help sustain commoning, producing a recreation and visitor management strategy, conservation of the New Forest's unique landscape, and protecting and helping to increase the affordable housing stock.

After the proposals had been discussed and others put forward, there was a question and answer session with a panel of Authority Members and Chief Executive Lindsay Cornish. Ted Johnson ended the evening by thanking all those who attended, pointing out that such discussions are "absolutely invaluable" to the Authority as it sets its priorities for the next two years in its Corporate Plan.

Says Lindsay, "It was vital for us to involve interested people and organisations in this way. The views expressed will be taken forward to a future National Park Authority meeting and will inform our decisions. With this approach the National Park has started business as it means to go on: listening to our partners and the people of the New Forest and involving them in setting our direction. We are very grateful to all those who took the time to come along."

More information about the New Forest National Park can be gained by visiting the Authority's website at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk

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