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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.

More recently, the Landscapes Review (2019) called for management plans to be strengthened and to set clear priorities and actions for nature recovery and the response to climate change.

The story so far

The first New Forest Management Plan was published in 2010 and updated in 2015. It includes a summary of the special qualities of the New Forest and describes a vision for how the New Forest should look and function in 20 years’ time.

The Plan was updated in 2015 and has been published as the Partnership Plan for the New Forest National Park. It includes updated priority actions for the period 2015 – 2020 to help deliver the two national park purposes and duty. The Plan also gives examples of recent projects and describes new issues affecting the National Park.

The Partnership Plan 2015-2020 was produced jointly by all the main organisations with interests and responsibilities in the National Park, including:

  • Environment Agency
  • Forestry Commission
  • 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.

They agreed the text and contributed many of the actions. Further actions were taken forward by more than 20 other local groups and organisations. The final Plan was the result of comprehensive public consultation, with more than 100 responses received, many of which led to amendments to the document. The main partners meet regularly and progress reports are being published annually to show progress of the actions.

The 2010 Management Plan

The Partnership Plan should be read in conjunction with the original Management Plan published in 2010. This contains more details about many aspects of the New Forest National Park and it sets out the original vision and long-term objectives for the area.

The next Partnership Plan 2021-2026

Over the last year or so, work has progressed to review the next iteration of the Partnership Plan. The review will be guided by a slightly revised vision and agreed set of objectives which will be discussed and refined by partners. New themes and objectives have been drafted by the core partners and are now ready for public consultation to further inform the draft Plan.

View the draft Partnership Plan and have your say.



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