Businessman gives boost to nature reserve on his doorstep

Published Tuesday 19 June 2012

A 47 acre site at Lymington has been turned into a wildlife haven thanks to local businessman and resident Leon Crouch, his neighbour Amanda Otway and the New Forest Land Advice Service (LAS).

Mr Crouch and Ms Otway, who recently bought the land, are working closely with the LAS to ensure the land’s future as a ‘Site of Importance for Nature Conservation’. It is now bustling with insects and wildflowers in the summer and will continue to support migrating birds over the winter.

The LAS provides free, independent advice and support to landowners, farmers, commoners, equine owners, graziers and community groups across the New Forest National Park, the Avon Valley and surrounding area. It is funded by the New Forest National Park Authority, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Natural England and the Verderers.

Julie Stubbs, the New Forest Land Advice Service Manager, said: ‘When Leon approached us for advice about managing the land we knew it would be a great project to get involved in and could really make a difference.

‘This area now has a real wealth of habitats. We have worked closely with Leon who has been keen to help enhance an area close to the coast and the Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve.

‘We developed a special seed mix to create wild flower meadows to help regenerate the land with species such as knapweed, wild carrot, oxeye daisy and field scabious. We have also restored the hedgerows through coppicing and replanting.

Hampshire County Council's Countryside Service Sites Manager for the Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve, Pete Durnell said: ‘This area of land is protected by a national designation and is home to a large and important population of Brent Geese over the winter months.

‘We also know that a range of other overwintering waders and wildfowl such as curlew, lapwing, oystercatchers and redshank visit Keyhaven Nature Reserve close by. Transforming this land will give these birds a much larger area.’

Landowner Leon Crouch said: ‘I have received a great amount of support and advice from the Land Advice Service and Hampshire County Council.

‘It is good to know that these free services are out there. When I purchased this land it was in very bad condition and needed a lot of work. With the Land Advice Service’s help I have been able to achieve a lot in a short space of time. I have had direct access to experts who have been able to guide me through the whole process.

‘The Land Advice Service also put me in touch with Peter Niccolls, a young commoner who will put his Dexter cattle on the site at certain times of the year as part of the wildlife management of the meadows. I’m looking forward to building a relationship with him. Commoning is of vital importance to the New Forest and I’m pleased to be able to help support the next generation coming through.’

Peter Niccolls said: ‘It’s great that Leon is supporting me to continue the tradition of commoning. Having this land to use for grazing will make such a difference.

‘My meat is part of the New Forest Marque which means that it’s from the New Forest. By having access to Leon’s land I am still able to be part of this scheme which promotes local smallholders and is a symbol of the high standards of local produce.’


Notes to Editors:

The New Forest Land Advice Service is available to landowners and occupiers who would like advice and support on a wide range of issues relating to land management. The advisors operate across the National Park, the Avon Valley and the coastal plain.

The service offers:

  • A free and independent service for the land managing community in and around the New Forest and Avon Valley
  • Support for landowners, farmers, New Forest Commoners, equine owners, graziers and community groups
  • Advice to anyone who owns or manages a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) in the area
  • A small grant scheme which can support capital works which benefit the landscape, biodiversity and cultural heritage of the area

To find out more about the New Forest Land Advice Service, or arrange a visit, please call 01590 646696 or email For more information visit

The Marque® – a sign of quality.

A product is only licensed to use the Marque® if:

  • it contains at least 25 per cent New Forest produce
  • it has met stringent standards according to its particular speciality (for example, meat producers must show that high standards of welfare and good husbandry have been applied at all times).

Managed by the New Forest National Park Authority and New Forest District Council the award scheme was created to:

  • give businesses a distinctive 'New Forest' banner under which to sell their goods and services
  • help customers identify quality New Forest produce
  • encourage people to ‘buy local ‘ and reduce the environmental impact of transporting food long distances
  • help sustain the New Forest’s local economy by supporting local businesses and employment.

For more information about commoning visit

Media Contact:
Karen Evans-McDaid, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650

More articles in the news archive.

New Forest National Park Authority news feed


image-fade-right image-fade-left