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Leadership team

Alison Barnes, Chief Executive

Alison is Chief Executive at New Forest National Park Authority and has worked in the field of landscape management for 20 years.

She is the Convenor of the Green Halo Partnership and an elected Fellow of both the Landscape Institute and RSA.

Previously as a Director for Natural England she led engagement with large regeneration programmes such as for the Olympics and took organisational lead on landscape and green infrastructure.

She was a founding Director at Natural England, leading NE’s work in London and holding national portfolios for Landscape and Green Infrastructure, including advising on greening the London Olympics and chairing the Thames Gateway Partnership.

Earlier in her career, Alison worked in Scottish local government and with RSPB on opencast mine restoration projects. She later led on local biodiversity policy within Defra and was Head of Advocacy for English Nature, developing policy across Parliament, Whitehall and Europe and supporting the passage of the NERC Act.

Alison has served on the Mayor of London’s Sustainability Commission and Forestry England’s Regional Advisory Committees and is currently on the Board of Directors for Business South, is a Trustee of the National Park City Foundation and a Leadership Fellow of St George’s House, Windsor Castle.

Alison was inspired to follow her career path by her childhood in Dorset exploring the heathlands and coasts of the area and the nearby New Forest. She graduated from Oxford University with a Masters in Biological Sciences and achieved an MSc in Conservation at University College London. In her spare time she enjoys walking, sailing and music. She plays the flute and sings with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Inspiration Community Choir.

Steve Avery, Executive Director Strategy and Planning

Steve joined the New Forest National Park Authority as Head of Development Control in 2006. Prior to joining the National Park Steve spent eight years working as a Principal Planner with New Forest District Council. Steve has also previously worked for other local planning authorities in Essex and Cornwall.

As Executive Director Strategy and Planning, Steve leads the Authority’s planning team as well as the Authority’s other statutory functions in relation to the conservation and enhancement of the natural environment, cultural heritage, access to the countryside and preparation of the National Park Management Plan.

Steve currently chairs the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Management Board and Activities Committee for the South East Region.

Paul Walton, Head of Environment and Rural Economy

Paul’s role is to lead the Authority’s work in conserving the landscapes and habitats of the National Park and foster a healthy local economy that can sustain the Park’s special qualities.

Paul has considerable experience of working in protected landscapes.  He has come to the New Forest having previously worked in Cornwall, as a General Manager for the National Trust for five years and prior to that as the first Partnership manager of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  He also worked as an Area Manager for the Sussex Downs Conservation Board prior to the creation of the South Downs National Park.

In 2011 Paul completed a Masters degree in Town and Country Planning.

Organisation structure

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