Top Menu

Archive | June, 2018

Recreation Management: Summary of Our 2017 Response

A summary comparison of our 2017 response to the draft “Actions” proposed by NFNPA in the 2018 survey.  For last year’s Future Forest survey, we sidestepped the survey format and focused on three main areas for specific, achievable projects. These were 1) National Park Infrastructure 2) Influencing Adjacent Authorities and Communities and 3) Education Emphasis on Protecting the Forest

1. National Park Infrastructure –

  • Parking and Camping Provision Assessment
  • Habitat Assessment / Evidence Base
  • Actions to lead to provision design Fit For Purpose

The Draft Actions contain an aspiration to create a map to be used to address infrastructure priorities, but this is given an absurd “quick-win” goal of being produced within a year of the adoption of the RMS update. Rather than specifying key criteria and gathering evidence to base a sound spatial strategy, this will be done with whatever haphazard data is to hand or may be hastily compiled within that timeframe leading to an infrastructure just as damagingly arbitrary as that which we’ve inherited.

2. Adjacent Authorities and Communities –

  • Raise the profile of development on our borders that will affect the Forest
  • Brief Decision makers on impacts on the Forest and Section 62 Duties
  • Make nearby communities aware of their representatives responsibilities
  • Promote adequate, proportional mitigation
  • Petition Central Government for more strategic targets to take pressure off the Forest

The Draft Actions limit discussion of influencing adjacent authorities to their recreation provisions, where placement of population increases from new development if often the strongest driver in creating recreation pressure on the Forest. As mentioned above mitigation regimes undervalue the New Forest without scaling Thames Basin Heaths framework appropriately.

3. Education –

  • Develop clearer more straightforward messages
  • Look to reach other audiences
  • Easily highlight the Forest’s need for protection
    • National Nature Reserve
    • Working Farm
    • Working Forest
    • In context of the ongoing Habitat Loss in the UK

Of course there is a useful “Raising awareness and understanding” action point which is front and centre, but it is focussed very much on doing more of the same, but more often in more places with better production values, not shifting the message to significantly highlight the habitats and ways of life under threat. Getting a very simple key notion across that the Forest needs our collective respect and protection could give those education efforts a more useful focus and lead to positive impact.

This is part of our ongoing engagement in the debate on the National Park Authority’s Review of the Recreation Management Strategy.  Our full response to the 2017 survey is available here.  Our 2018 response is ongoing.
0

NFNPA Public Questions: Recreation Management Strategy

We continue to welcome the opportunity presented by the review of the RMS, but are underwhelmed by the process and proposals. I wouldn’t belabour the deficiencies of last year’s online survey with 1500 unverified respondents[1], but for the proposal that the exercise be repeated, with the “Draft Actions” under consideration.

I must admit I was initially optimistic when these were previewed, there are sound ideas at heart, but made anodyne, presented with so little detail, as to be vague and inoffensive; anyone could read into them goals we’d like to see achieved. These are “more plans to make plans”, with no palpable improvement, apart from brevity, on the previous RMS. Some essential actions, predicated by legal obligations to designated habitat, have been discarded. All the education actions focus on promoting special qualities[2], not on shifting emphasis to protection.

The Strategy needs to include a set of concrete proposals, a non-exhaustive list could include:

  • Establish a Research Station for the Forest – this could provide an evidentiary base for spatial strategy.
  • Habitat Mitigation Framework for the Forest – reliance on Thames Basin Heaths mitigation severely undervalues our more richly featured at-risk habitats, and is not fit for purpose.
  • Audit of parking and camping provisions[3]
  • Strategic Regional Development Forum – working to lower housing targets within and on the borders of the Park to reduce pressure.
  • Bring temporary campsites under a regimen of consistent standards and controls.
  • Close Hollands Wood, Denny Wood and Longbeech [4]
  • Create a “Park Ranger” role that includes enforcement.

One set of actions that nearly rises to the level of a plan, managing recreation infrastructure[5], is lumbered with an unrealistic year limit to decide future zoning and control. Rush decisions using whatever data is to hand or can be cobbled together, rather than developing a spatial strategy, with agreed criteria, tied to well grounded evidence, would lead to an infrastructure just as damagingly arbitrary as that which we’ve inherited.

It’s well and good to have a set of aspirations, but without a clear set of projects to achieve the least of them, reviewing our aspirations is relegated to a make-work delay in taking action. I am confident that you could hammer out useful, practical proposals, that would fulfil the Statutory Purposes of the Park, and legal obligations to designated habitats, commoning, and the working Forest. Please do not let a dumbed-down internet poll be the final word on this important document.

[1] half the population of Lyndhurst.

[2] In ways that are already being done. This strategy should show how we’ll do things differently to be effective.

[3] Five year priority 5.6.3 of RMS 2010

[4] The obligation under the 2001 SAC Management plan to relocate three FC Campsites (Five year priority 6.4.2 of RMS 2010) should not be ignored; it is even possible that the rash of 28 day license pop-up campsites has effectively absorbed an equal provision already.

[5] Objective 4

This Statement was read out to the 15 June 2018 Meeting of the National Park Authority. The version of the document distributed to the members included more detailed versions of the non-exhaustive list of project proposals which would be appropriate for inclusion in a Recreation Management Strategy with any depth and utility. A revised and updated version of those proposals has been submitted as part of our response to this year’s survey, and may be viewed *here* (Coming soon.)
0

Recreation Management: An Overview

Recreation Management Strategy 2010 – 2030 (May 2010)

Last year the New Forest National Park Authority launched a review of the Recreation Management Strategy (RMS), its core policy document for Recreation.  With over 60 action points over 60 pages, it is very wide ranging, but also fuzzy, aspirational, and many of its projected tasks are yet planned, let alone achieved.  We welcomed the review with the hope that a more practical and focused update would lead to needed change.

In Summer 2017 the Authority launched the review with the “Forest First” online survey.  Whilst, as far as we were concerned, this may have been a good PR exercise to raise the profile of the RMS review, the survey itself was flawed in its format, execution and interpretation.  The Strategy needs to address many statutory obligations to habitat, to commoning and the working forest, and a complex mesh of overarching issues including wider town and country planning across the region.  Reducing many aspects of this to an online poll ranking whether walking, cycling, or golf are more important than cricket, camping and coastal access, is an unhelpful distraction seemingly promoting activities rather than looking at their impacts and how best to minimise them.

We sidestepped the survey and gave a response calling for specific projects in areas of education, infrastructure for recreation in and outside the park.   Our Response to the 2017 Call for Views

We criticised the format and unintended messages of the survey in the very brief window afforded in the Public Questions at the July 2017 Park Authority meeting.  At the January 2018 meeting we criticised the faulty interpretation of the results.  At the May 2018 Verderers Court we raised concerns over the plan to run a second survey intended to be a final consultation with the public on the new document.

The survey has now been launched to consider 25 “Actions” spread over 7 “Objectives”.  Whilst these are hodgepodge of bland guiding principles there is almost no substance.  We support most of these principles, but specific policies, projects and initiatives are needed to form a strategy.  These blandishments on offer in no way improve on the existing 2010 RMS document.

The online survey merely provides an opportunity for the public to “rate” these “actions” on a five point sliding scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree.  A 2000 character limit box (that’s nearly 14 tweets worth to the social media generation) allows a more “in-depth” response to the entirety of this from each respondent.  This is less a survey than a rubber stamping exercise.

The survey closes at 11.59pm on 12 August.

Coming soon!  Our suggestions for responses.  What should be retained from the original RMS.  What we think of the proposed “Actions”.  Some projects we’d want to see proposed instead.  And where we should set or lower our expectations for what the Park Authority can achieve if it only adopts these principles without offering a more concrete strategy.

To see all related articles (including this overview which we’ll update as this progresses) click here: http://newforestassociation.org/tag/rms/

Latest update 7 August 2018.

0