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Protecting verges

New Forest verges are among the most important in Europe, and are protected habitats in their own right. Containing grasses, sedges and wildflowers they provide a vitally important source of food and nectar for insects as well as grazing for commoners’ animals.
It is a criminal offence to knowingly damage these habitats.


Why are they so important?

Our verges are a separate designated feature of the New Forest’s Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). You’d be forgiven for not noticing these Forest edges as you travel through the National Park. They often look like muddy or grassy areas that simply link the Forest to the road. In fact, these verges are incredibly important habitats supporting many different animals and plant species such as chamomile, harebell, small fleabane, field gentian and pennyroyal. Not only that, they’re an important part of the New Forest landscape, softening the visual impact of roads and buildings, as well as providing food for the free-roaming livestock.

The eroding Forest

Over the years, many New Forest verges have become informal parking spots or stopping areas. This can really damage the Forest as the vegetation gets worn away, tree roots exposed and the ground impacted. Over time, this starts to reduce the footprint of the Forest, gradually eroding and reducing it.

24-hour access

The National Park is a living, working Forest. Parking in or around gateways may prevent emergency vehicles reaching an injured animal or tackling a forest fire. It also can restrict access for large forestry vehicles, and reduce visibility for passing cars. Blocking gateways next to cattle grids makes safe access difficult for horse riders and others who need to use the gates.

How can you help?

Some verges are being used as unauthorised parking areas which people have become used to parking on. Others are parking spots outside properties or where residents close to the Forest leave their vehicles.

If people park their cars on verges, others will follow suit.

We ask those enjoying time here to please park in one of the 130 designated car parks in the Forest, and residents within their own property.

Thank you for helping protect the important habitats of the New Forest.

Stopping people parking on the verges

It’s a criminal offence to knowingly damage these habitats. This includes people who persistently drive or park on them. We are working with a range of organisations including Forestry England, Natural England, Hampshire County Council and the Police to address these issues, including the reviewing the processes for permitting changes to the distribution and capacity of car parking that would both protect the environment and improve the recreational experience.

What else is being done to protect verges?

For several years, a programme has been in place to restore miles of verges back to their green roots. Hundreds of verges have been carefully restored thanks to the Verderers of the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. See the website for more information.



Head of Environment and Rural Economy


'We help commoners to continue their ancient way by providing grants, training and advice.'

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