Common Cause: Shared Forest
New Forest Commoners Defence Association
What has been achieved?
The New Forest is shared by many people and it is important we all do what we can to keep it special.
A new, broader approach has seen commoners working directly with Forest organisations, schools and businesses to help everyone connect with the New Forest and understand the role that commoning plays in keeping it so special.
For the first time, behaviour change experts were consulted to help develop ways to increase public awareness and change people’s behaviour. Social media, posters, leaflets, toolkits, and face-to-face discussions are now being used to deliver key commoning messages and help people better understand the community and its traditions.
- 61 businesses have joined the Shared Forest Business Group and are promoting safe driving to their 3,000 employees.
- A Shared Forest Education Toolkit for primary aged children has been designed by teacher, commoner and outdoor learning expert Lyndsey Stride. It helps children appreciate this incredible landscape as part of the curriculum and includes great projects on New Forest nature and New Forest commoning.
- A #KeepYourDistance campaign, developed with the NPA and Forestry England, reminds residents and visitors not to feed or touch the livestock.
- An #add3minutes campaign, developed with the Animal Accident Reduction Group, tells drivers ‘40 is too fast in the dark’ and ‘always be animal aware’. It gained 920,000 impressions (number of times a post is seen) on Facebook in 2020.
- Five near-life-size animal silhouettes were displayed in prominent locations around the New Forest, providing an eye-catching reminder that winter evenings are the most dangerous time for accidents.
- A new CDA website realnewforest.org has been launched.
- A conference titled The Role of Commoning in the Maintenance of Landscape and Ecology was attended by 125 people at Lyndhurst Community Centre.
Former CDA Chair Tony Hockley said: ‘The project has built a huge network of supporters for New Forest commoning; people who are willing to celebrate the way the grazed landscape has survived and its benefits to society.
‘The positive change, particularly in the level of understanding and appreciation of our commoning system is very clear, which has made increasing numbers of commoners willing to start sharing their own stories, whether in person or online.
‘We are much more confident than we were that we now have tools and a partnership available to tackle the challenges faced by our landscape and its cultural heritage.’
It’s hoped that people will become more aware of their actions and recognise the of role of commoning and the essential contribution it makes to the New Forest. By monitoring the effectiveness of the different methods used, future campaigns will be increasingly effective.
Charlotte Lines – New Forest Commoners Defence Association