Achievements to date
Since the Recreation Management Strategy was published Forest organisations have been working hard to help people enjoy outdoor activities and also protect the Forest.
Most of the actions are ongoing rather than completed and some have yet to be started in earnest. This consultation will help us decide where to put most effort with declining public resources in the coming years.
Here are some examples of the work so far by the Recreation Management Strategy Steering Group (the National Park Authority, the Forestry Commission, Natural England, Hampshire County Council, New Forest District Council and the Verderers) and other organisations across the Forest:
Safer, sustainable activities and travel
- The open-top buses of the New Forest Tour encourage around 40,000 car-free journeys annually around the National Park giving a different view of the Forest
- A new cycle route was created between Totton and Marchwood and the Ashurst-Lyndhurst track beside the A35 was resurfaced
- Several footbridges have been replaced by Forestry Commission and Hampshire County Council
- The 40mph New Forest speed limit was extended to cover the Wiltshire areas of the National Park.
Improving visitor facilities
- Support has been given to develop facilities at cycle hire businesses including the new Cyclexperience hire centre at Brockenhurst station
- Lepe Country Park visitor facilities are currently being redeveloped
- Camping in the Forest and the Forestry Commission have paid for two seasonal National Park rangers each year to encourage campers to walk, cycle or use the New Forest Tour and they provide family activities on the campsites
- A new ‘walkers and cyclists welcome’ scheme has proved popular with local accommodation providers.
Reducing the risk of inadvertent harm
- Surveys of rare and vulnerable ground nesting birds (woodlark, Dartford warbler, nightjar, curlew, redshank, snipe and lapwing) have taken place to help us manage the Forest for their benefit. More detailed surveys of breeding curlews and the factors that may be affecting their decline are now being done
- Ditches, banks and ‘dragon’s teeth’ posts have been installed to prevent parking on verges which damages grazing and protected wildlife habitats
- A ‘Caring for the Forest’ code is widely promoted by rangers, on information boards, in leaflets and publications and by social media
- People are working more closely together to encourage ‘Forest friendly’ behaviour, discuss the issues and find solutions. Established forums include the Access Forum, dogs forum, equine forum, cycling working group, joint litter working group and outdoor educators forum
- Local authorities are using developer contributions to fund a range of activities that enable people to enjoy the outside close to home and to reduce negative impacts when new residents explore the Forest’s protected areas
- There are ongoing campaigns to protect the Forest – reduce animal accidents, stop people from feeding ponies, reduce litter and the disturbance of rare ground nesting birds. Picking fungi on the Forest is now actively and strongly discouraged
- A cycling code and an event organisers’ charter were developed to encourage safe and responsible cycling and to minimise disruption from large cycling events
- Walks leaflets and a routes website have been produced to steer people towards interesting routes with good visitor facilities and away from fragile wildlife areas.
Increasing health and well-being
- Over 200 people with disabilities now explore the Forest on adapted bikes each year, available through a new local group called PEDALL
- Over 350 people now regularly join Healthy Walks close to where they live, led by 35 trained volunteer walk leaders – and easy access walks have been developed and promoted
- Hundreds of families have attended ‘wild play’ events, encouraging young children to enjoy the outdoors
- Projects to inform and involve the next generation have included school assemblies for thousands of children each year about preventing litter and using the Forest as an outdoor classroom for studies linked to the curriculum including recreation impacts.