New ‘buddy’ scheme to preserve New Forest’s traditional way of life

Mentor Scheme commoning

Published Tuesday 5 April 2016

Efforts to ensure traditional New Forest knowledge, skills and practices survive will receive a boost thanks to a new mentoring scheme.

Experienced commoners who own the animals which roam freely across the Forest will be teamed up with a new commoner to pass on their knowledge, with the ‘students’ spending time on their land.

The New Forest Land Advice Service and the Commoners Defence Association have created the free Commoner Mentoring Scheme because the commoning system is vital in managing the Forest’s rare habitats. The animals’ grazing shapes the landscape which would otherwise become overgrown with gorse and brambles.

The mentoring programme is part of a Heritage Lottery-funded ‘Our Past, Our Future’ Landscape Partnership Scheme led by the New Forest National Park Authority in conjunction with 11 key partners.

Lyndsey Stride, Young Commoner Group representative, said: ‘The National Park remains one of the few extensive lowland commons where common rights are still widely practised. But with rising house and land prices, increasing traffic and a vibrant, yet crucial tourism economy, the New Forest’s traditions and culture are at risk of serious decline.

She said: ‘The New Forest Young Commoners Group recognises the importance of passing knowledge down through generations; it is fundamental to the future of commoning and the Forest.

‘Commoning has to be learnt on the job and we are seeing a lack of young commoners, particularly those keeping cattle. This scheme is a great way of bringing on young commoners and keeping this vital tradition alive.’

The scheme is mainly for young people but you can also become a student if you have rights attached to your property and want to become a practising commoner.

Find out more at an open evening at 7pm on 14 April at The Drift Inn, Beaulieu Road, or contact Richard Austin on 01590 646661 or


Notes to Photo Editor:

A commoner at Beaulieu Road Sale Yard.

Notes to Editor:

Our Past, Our Future

Our Past, Our Future is a Landscape Partnership Scheme for the New Forest which, supported by Heritage Lottery Funding, will undertake a range of projects to restore lost habitats, develop Forest skills and inspire a new generation to champion and care for the New Forest. The partnership focuses on the enclosed lands which surround the Open Forest.

The five year scheme is being led by the New Forest National Park Authority working alongside several delivery and funding partners, including the New Forest Land Advice Service.

For more information on Our Past, Our Future visit

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @HLFSouthEast

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 350 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.

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 Contacts:

Matt Stroud, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority

Tel: 01590 646650


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