Traditional ways heralded as the future face of forestry

percheron horse

Published Tuesday 26 November 2013

Using heavy horses to help manage woodlands has been hailed as the future of forestry and now woodland managers, agricultural students and young farmers have the chance to learn this important skill.

Run by the New Forest Land Advice Service and supported by the New Forest National Park Authority, people can attend a course and take the reins of one-ton Percheron draft horses to help clear logs from woodland sites.

Around 40 per cent of private woodland in the New Forest is unmanaged and horses are ideal for sites which are wet, steep or impossible to reach with machinery. They cause less damage to the ground, are cost effective and often mean footpaths can remain open while work is taking place. The horses can remove around 8 to 10 tonnes of timber from a site in a day – more than the weight of a double decker bus.

The course at Roydon Woods near Brockenhurst on Friday 6 December will be led by Robert Sampson of Harbridge Working Percherons - a New Forest company that has been breeding and working Percheron horses since 1951.

New Forest Land Advice Service Advisor Georgianna Watson said: ‘With so much woodland classed as unmanaged in the New Forest I am keen to work with forest owners and managers to look at alternative methods for making woodland management work for them.

‘Whether you want to manage your woods for social, environmental or economic reasons, horse logging could play an important role in the future as it is a cost effective, efficient and low carbon management technique. This course is the perfect introduction to the horse-drawn logging process.’

The New Forest Land Advice Service is funded by the New Forest National Park Authority, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Natural England and the Verderers.

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Notes to photo editor:

A Percheron draft horse removes timber from a logging site.

Notes to editor:

About the New Forest Land Advice Service

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. Since the service started in 2010 it has advised more than 300 businesses.

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

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit to find out more

Media Contact:
Matt Stroud, Communications Assistant, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650

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