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About the Partnership Plan

The role of the Partnership Plan

All national parks are required by statute to have a management plan / partnership plan for their area, to help guide the work of those with responsibilities or an interest in the national park. The plan is for the National Park as a place and not specifically for the National Park Authority or any other organisation.

National parks have two statutory purposes that set out the main reasons for their designation and describe the overall focus for their management. The two national park purposes as set out in primary legislation are:

1. to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the national park; and
2. to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the area by the public.

National park authorities also have a duty in taking forward the two national park purposes to seek to foster the economic and social wellbeing of local communities within the national park.

The relationship between the purposes is commonly known as the ‘Sandford Principle’, which states that every effort should be made to reconcile any conflicts between the purposes, but that if such efforts fail then the priority must be given to the first purpose of conservation and enhancement. The primacy of conservation is especially important in the New Forest National Park which has the highest proportion of its land (56%) covered by international nature conservation designations when compared to other local authority areas in England.

All public and statutory bodies must have regard to national park purposes when making decisions or carrying out activities relating to or affecting land within the national park. This legal ‘duty of regard’ acknowledges that the fulfilment of the national park purposes rests not only with those bodies directly responsible for their management but also relies on effective partnership working.

The Government is now looking to strengthen the role of national park management plans and has highlighted their importance in setting priorities and actions for nature recovery and our response to the climate emergency.

The Partnership Plan 2022-2027 was produced jointly by all the main organisations with interests and responsibilities in the National Park, including:

  • Environment Agency
  • Forestry England
  • Hampshire County Council
  • Natural England
  • New Forest District Council
  • New Forest National Park Authority
  • Test Valley Borough Council
  • Verderers of the New Forest
  • Wiltshire Council.
How the new Plan brings together existing forums, policies, plans and strategies

National Park Member


'The Partnership Plan sets out our priorities and how we will work with others to deliver it.'

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