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1. Introduction

1. Introduction

Re:New Forest – Partnership Plan

The New Forest has long been recognised as an exceptional landscape, shaped over millennia by the people who have lived and worked here.

It is one of the most important areas for nature conservation in Europe and its open landscape, coastline and unique natural beauty have inspired generations of local people and visitors alike.

In 2019, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, which led to the designation of the first national park in England, the Peak District National Park.

We now have 10 national parks in England and the New Forest was one of the last to be formally designated in 2005. Covering 220 square miles on the central south coast of England, it is the smallest national park in the UK, other than the Broads. Yet it is also home to more than 34,000 people and 2,500 local businesses. More than 16 million people live within a 90-minute drive of the New Forest and its ease of access make it one of the most visited national parks in the country.

Our national parks are the ‘breathing spaces’ for the nation and over 70 years on from the first designation, the Government recognises national parks as our most iconic and beautiful places, representing our shared heritage and national identity, and home to many of our rural communities and businesses.

The Government sets out a vision for nationally protected landscapes as: ‘A coherent national network of beautiful, nature-rich spaces that all parts of society can easily access and enjoy. Protected landscapes will support thriving local communities and economies, improve our public health and wellbeing, drive forward nature recovery, and build our resilience to climate change.’

Plan of action

Looking beyond the Covid pandemic, when we need to respond to the climate and nature emergencies and as we transition to a new way of life outside the European Union, now more than ever we need a clear, up-to-date plan of action to equip the New Forest for the future.

The central role of this plan Plan is to guide and coordinate the work of all those with an interest and influence in the National Park in delivery the National Park purposes and duty.

This includes organisations with statutory responsibilities, land management interests, businesses, local communities and user groups.

It is a Plan for the National Park, not the National Park Authority.

All those with interests in the New Forest National Park should take account of the Partnership Plan’s vision for the area and embed the relevant actions within their own work programmes.

This Plan outlines the key drivers and challenges facing the National Park and sets out how these will be addressed collectively. It sets out an overall approach to managing the National Park for the next five years, which will frame more detailed policies and actions over this period. It will guide and align the priorities and resources of the National Park Authority with those of partner organisations, businesses and communities who are key to the implementation of our collective ambitions.

Our intention is that it will also influence wider decisions and investment of all those who have a part to play in protecting this most special landscape. It will also enable the support and engagement of communities in and around the New Forest who have a crucial role in achieving a positive future for the National Park.

We are building on many achievements from the previous Partnership Plan. Its legacy includes success in securing and managing grants for projects across the Forest together, such as the Heritage Lottery funded landscape partnership ‘Our Past Our Future’ and the Verderers’ of the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. More recently grant funding has been secured due to this track record of successfully delivering large partnership projects.


This Partnership Plan has been prepared with input and support from the main statutory organisations who share responsibility for delivering the aims and objectives of the Plan. Its scope was set by a widely advertised call for views at the New Forest Show in 2019, followed by a public ‘snapshot’ survey in 2020 with over 2,700 responses. The resulting draft Partnership Plan received responses and feedback from over 380 individuals and organisations as part of the public consultation in summer 2021. The feedback and comments received from partners and the local communities have undoubtedly helped to strengthen the Plan.

Special qualities

The special qualities of the New Forest are those qualities that define it, make it unique and immediately recognisable and, when taken together, distinguish it from all other parts of the country. These qualities are fundamental to the two national park purposes and are the underlying reason for its designation. Learn more about the National Park’s special qualities.

Our vision

The vision for the New Forest is to be a national beacon for a sustainable future, where nature and people flourish. In 2050, the National Park is a unique and immediately recognisable place where:

  • people live and work sustainably, having successfully adapted to the impacts of the climate emergency and supporting nature’s recovery and resilience
  • tranquility and a feeling of naturalness pervade large parts of the New Forest
  • the mosaic of distinctive landscapes and habitats have been conserved and greatly enhanced, supporting wildlife to recover and flourish
  • there is a strong sense, understanding of and support for the heritage and living culture of the New Forest, especially the local tradition of commoning
  • facilities such as car parks, campsites, walking and cycling routes and community green spaces are in the right places to both protect rare wildlife and to provide a better, more informed experience for people
  • all communities and visitors are better informed and gain inspiration, health and wellbeing and enjoy the extensive areas accessible across the National Park whilst respecting the fragile nature and unique environment and culture of the New Forest
  • local, regional and national organisations recognise and work to enhance the value of the National Park; there is an appreciation of its importance and role within the wider area
  • everyone contributes to caring for the National Park as a special place for present and future generations.
Do you live in or near the New Forest National Park?

Check if you live in the New Forest National Park.

Map of the New Forest National Park with boundary shown

Next page: 2. Major issues for the National Park


Contact us

For more information about the Partnership Plan please email or phone 01590 646679.

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National Park Member


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

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