Skip to main content
close x

Who runs the National Park?

We are sometimes asked what the National Park is, why it was set up and who runs it. This page gives the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Who runs the National Park?

In the main the landowners are responsible for managing the land. So, for example, Forestry England is responsible for looking after nearly half the New Forest National Park area.

The Court of Verderers manage the traditional activity of commoning – the rights under which people who occupy certain properties are entitled to let their ponies, donkeys, cattle, pigs or sheep roam free.

Various public authorities are responsible for setting polices and providing public services in the National Park area. These include:

  • Planning: New Forest National Park Authority
  • Roads: Hampshire County Council in Hampshire, Wiltshire Council in Wiltshire and the Highways England for ‘trunk’ roads and motorways i.e. the A31, A36 and M27
  • Public rights of way: Hampshire County Council in Hampshire and Wiltshire Council in Wiltshire
  • Public car parking: New Forest District Council, Forestry England, Hampshire County Council
  • Tourism: The tourism destination management organisation is Go New Forest Community Interest Company
  • Business and economic development: New Forest District Council, Hampshire County Council and Wiltshire Council
  • Collecting litter: New Forest District Council, Wiltshire Council, Forestry England and other land owners
  • Disposing of/recycling waste: Hampshire County Council in Hampshire, Wiltshire Council in Wiltshire
  • Managing the land: Forestry England manages the Crown lands in the New Forest National Park – nearly half of the total area. Others who manage land include the National Trust, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Hampshire County Council and private landowners/estates

Where is the New Forest National Park?

The New Forest National Park is mostly in south-west Hampshire although a small part of it around Redlynch and Landford is in Wiltshire (click ‘Explore by map’ at the top right for the boundary).

When did the New Forest become a National Park?

March 2005.

Why make an area into a National Park?

The purposes of designating an area as a National Park are set down in a 1949 Act of Parliament. They are to make sure that:

  • the natural beauty, wildlife and history are protected
  • people can appreciate and enjoy it.

National Park designation affords the New Forest the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty. The final boundary of the New Forest National Park was established by the Government following a detail landscape assessment and public enquiry.

Who owns the National Park?

National Parks are not nationally owned. The land within them is mainly owned by private individuals, public bodies and voluntary organisations such as the National Trust. In the New Forest National Park, Forestry England manages nearly half of the area, including much of the best-known open land and forestry plantations, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Other significant landowners in the New Forest National Park include the National Trust, Hampshire County Council, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and private estates and landowners.

When is the New Forest National Park open?

All the time, although overnight parking is not allowed in Forest car parks.

What is the New Forest National Park Authority’s role?

The National Park Authority is the body with overall responsibility for ensuring that the National Park is safeguarded for people to enjoy now and in the future.  It does this by:

  • Producing policy – including a National Park Plan (or Partnership Plan) which sets out the long-term vision for protecting things that make the National Park special and for making sure that people can continue to understand and enjoy them. The Plan describes how all public bodies and local organisations have agreed to work together to protect and enhance the National Park Authority.
  • Planning – being the local planning authority within the National Park area with responsibility for matters such as planning policy, planning applications and tree preservation orders.
  • Funding and grants – using around £3.5m a year from central Government to deliver National Park purposes, including a Sustainable Communities Fund to encourage innovative projects. Additional funds are found for new projects, for example from the National Lottery.
  • Delivering projects in the Forest – working with partners on conservation, recreation and information and leading on major initiatives.
  • Championing the Forest – listening to the diverse views in and around the New Forest, advising policy-makers and representing the National Park locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

What is the National Park Authority?

The National Park Authority is the body that makes key decisions about the delivery of National Park purposes. The decisions are made by 22 members, 12 of whom are nominated by local authorities in the National Park, four nominated by parish councils and appointed by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and six appointed by the Secretary of State to represent national views. The Authority employs 80 staff.

What are the things that make the New Forest National Park special?

These features are often referred to as the ‘special qualities’ of the National Park:

  • outstanding natural beauty
  • extraordinary diversity of plants and animals
  • unique historic, cultural and archaeological heritage
  • an historic commoning system
  • the iconic New Forest pony
  • tranquillity
  • wonderful opportunities for quiet recreation, learning and discovery
  • a healthy environment
  • strong and distinctive local communities.

How many National Parks are there in the UK?

15, if you include the Broads Authority which is a member of the National Park family, although it has some different responsibilities. Find out more about our National Park family.

Newsletter Image





Six free walking routes when you sign up for New Forest Newsletter

Subscribe to New Forest National Park Authority

By entering your email below you are consenting to us sending you newsletters. To unsubscribe, email More info:

I think you mistyped your email
Your interests (tick at least one)

Please select one

By signing up to this form you are consenting to receive emails from us. Each email will contain a link to your personal reference settings where you can opt-out or change which emails you receive from us. Please read our Privacy Policy for more information about how we use data.

Subscribe to New Forest National Park Authority

Thanks, your subscription has been confirmed. You've been added to our list and your New Forest walking pack is on its way to you, including a link to download our free app.