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Putting the Forest first

Putting the Forest first

The creation of the Forest’s recreation infrastructure in the 1960s and ’70s was a significant and pivotal moment in the Forest’s history. Many believe we’re now at that point again.

If they aren’t well managed, outdoor activities (such as walking, cycling, horse riding, camping or parking a vehicle) can accidentally cause damage to the very places that people want to enjoy.

Over time this harm could:

  • cause erosion of sensitive habitats such as ponds, stream banks, lawns, bogs, mires, chalk streams, coastal mudflats and ancient woodlands
  • disturb rare breeding, feeding and roosting birds on coastal mudflats and saltmarsh, or open heathland
  • impact on other rare and threatened species such as wild gladioli, smooth snakes and southern damselflies
  • erode paths and grazed verges
  • reduce the tranquillity in remote areas
  • cause more litter
  • interfere with important Forest management such as commoning or forestry operations.

Instead, we want to find ways to work together to encourage and enable people to enjoy the New Forest and nearby areas in ways and in locations that minimise these negative consequences.

It’s time for all of us who use the Forest to take responsibility and acknowledge these challenges. This is why the way forward is being carefully planned: jointly with organisations with a remit for managing recreation and in consultation with the public.

National Park Chairman


'We must all work together to manage recreation and ensure the Forest is fit for the future.'

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