Objective 2: Address significant and/or widespread negative impacts caused by recreation in the most appropriate, proportionate and effective ways.
In 2020 and 2021, unprecedented numbers of people and vehicles visiting the Forest following relaxation of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions prompted joint patrols (including police and fire service) with a focus on the risk of fires, wild camping, litter, feeding of ponies and verge/gateway parking. With more staff on the ground, more signage, verge and gateway parking vehicle stickers, community support with litter picking and wide promotion of the New Forest Code, this has had a positive effect.
Several local organisations have been meeting with representatives from the Police and Crown Prosecution Service to review how illegal recreation-related activities are best addressed (e.g. through existing laws/byelaws and or new legal mechanisms such as a Traffic Regulation Order or/and Public Space Protection Order).
There have been some good examples of enforcement work on fly-tipping, lighting fires and commercial fungi picking.
Campaigns have been stepped up to protect ground nesting birds (through signage, rangers, seasonal car park closures and social media) and to reduce animal road traffic accidents (50 animals were killed in 2020 – lowest on record, albeit helped by reduced traffic).
Issues between cattle and people/dogs have been highlighted by Commoners Defence Association livestock signs and new temporary signage should help reduce the feeding and petting of ponies and donkeys.
Forestry England is rolling out a new events and activities management framework following an update of its Habitats Regulations Assessment and an internal England wide review. Locally, organisations are sharing and aligning their respective policies, charges and procedures for managing larger events and organised activities.
A Professional Dog Walker’s Charter has been launched, with a high level of sign-up by local dog walking businesses.