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A window on the past

A window on the past

In the 1960s and ’70s Forest guardians saw that the New Forest was in trouble – people could drive, park and camp anywhere.

Balmer lawn 1971

[Photo: unrestricted parking at Balmer Lawn, Brockenhurst, 1971]

The damage was obvious and over 150 free-roaming animals were being killed each year (three times the current levels).

Bolton's Bench 1971

[Photo: unrestricted parking at Bolton’s Bench, Lyndhurst, 1971]

wild camping Wootton Green 1971_crop

[Photo: wild camping at Wootton Green near The Rising Sun pub, 1971]

So they came together to install cattle grids, fence off the main roads and ditch the verges of others, and create campsites and car parks. This has stood us in good stead for some time.

But that was 40 years ago, before we knew which areas were richest in wildlife, and the facilities weren’t designed for their current level of use – which looks set to increase even further:

  • around 34,000 people live here
  • sixteen million people now live within a 90 minute drive of the Forest
  • it is estimated that we receive over 15 million recreation and leisure day visits a year
  • in response to housing needs, neighbouring local authorities are currently progressing Local Plans which will provide for around 50,000 extra homes (about 110,000 people) in areas close to the New Forest in the next 15-20 years.

National Park Chairman


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

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