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Recent changes affecting the Forest

Recent changes affecting the Forest

Since the Recreation Management Strategy was published in 2010, various things have changed that will affect the way we manage recreation in the New Forest.

Examples include:

  • a recent desk-based study calculates that recreation and leisure visitor days to the New Forest rose to an estimated 15.2 million in 2017. This is a 12% overall increase (an average increase of about 1% per year) since 2004. It predicts that by 2037 there will be over 17 million recreational visitor days a year to the National Park
  • National Planning Policy places a strong emphasis on meeting identified housing needs and has removed regional planning constraints. New and emerging Local Plans produced by neighbouring planning authorities include allocations for many thousands of new homes close to the New Forest National Park
  • research undertaken by the specialist consultants Footprint Ecology 2020, examines recreational use of the New Forest’s international nature conservation designations resulting from planned future housing development and was published in May 2020. The research reports recommend that a strategic, proportionate and co-ordinated approach to avoiding and mitigating impacts is developed.
  • the Government produced an Eight Point Plan for National Parks, which among other things confirms that national parks should be ‘thriving natural environments’, help improve health and wellbeing and be ‘everyone’s national parks’
  • the Government has recommitted to protecting England’s wildlife and natural resources through a new strategy called Biodiversity 2020
  • locally, there is a renewed interest among planning authorities, businesses and other organisations to work together to protect and enhance the natural environment in areas surrounding the National Park, and encourage access to it
  • organised events for cyclists and runners are becoming more popular
  • after being relatively stable for several years, rises in road traffic are now predicted
  • Brexit has created uncertainty over funding of land and access management that has hitherto come from the EU
  • public sector organisations with responsibilities for providing recreation facilities have had substantial cuts in their Government funding
  • Natural England has published a proposed route for the England Coast Path through the New Forest.


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