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Friends of the New Forest host national conference

National Parks Societies Conference 2017

The Friends of the New Forest recently hosted a three-day national conference at Balmer Lawn Hotel, Brockenhurst, which was attended by representatives from the other twelve National Park Societies in England and Wales. These Societies are charities which act as ‘critical friends’ to each government National Park Authority, and are the voice for their National Park – its friend and watchdog. Also in attendance were representatives from the Campaign for National Parks, National Parks England and local organisations including the Verderers of the New Forest.

After long journeys from the far corners of England and Wales, delegates met up over an excellent dinner after which Head Agister Jonathan Gerrelli and local photographer Barry Whitcher entertained them with a sparkling illustrated explanation of the role of the New Forest Commoners and the work of the Agisters including organising the annual Drifts to round up ponies.

The following morning was devoted to presentations on the history of the Friends of the New Forest, and the multi-agency ‘Our Past, Our Future’ Landscape Partnership, which is undertaking 21 projects to restore lost habitats, develop Forest skills and inspire a new generation to champion and care for the New Forest. Then delegates heard about the role of ‘Go New Forest’ in delivering marketing and promotional support for the New Forest destination and of New Forest Marque, whose accreditation scheme exists to develop and promote the production, processing and distribution of local produce from the New Forest. Finally there was a session about communicating your organisation’s aims in a ‘post-truth’ society.

Jane Overall talking about New Forest Marque

The delegates then stretched their legs and continued to learn on one of two study tours: a Forest walk to learn about combatting non-native species and stream restoration, and a boat trip to Hurst Castle followed by a sea wall walk to hear about climate change and its impact on the New Forest coast. Returning wind-blown and in some cases muddy, delegates had time to meet up and chat about their matters of mutual interest, with Brexit looming over all. Following another good dinner, they were entertained by a talk from Woodgreen artist Pete Gilbert who managed to tell them his exciting life story while producing a painting of a New Forest scene before their eyes.

Nick Wardlaw leading stream restoration study group

Catherine Chatters leading non-native species study group

The final morning involved further presentations on the New Forest Trust, Forest Design Plan, and the work and concerns of the Commoners Defence Association before Bruce Rothnie, Deputy Surveyor, tackled the thorny issue of recreation management and its relationship to the primary purpose of conserving and enhancing natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage. Alison Barnes from the New Forest National Park Authority gave an overview of current challenges; and finally Fiona Howie, Chief Executive of the national organisation Campaign for National Parks, summarised the many current problems being faced by National Parks, including the uncertain future for their farming and commoning communities, and the important role that their ‘critical friends’, the National Park Societies, have to play.

Delegates then set off to return to their homes as far away as Dartmoor, the Lake District, the North York Moors and the Broads, to name but a few.

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100th anniversary of the Portuguese Fireplace in the New Forest

Bernard Hornung and Anglo-Portuguese Society group

Bernard Hornung and Anglo-Portuguese Society group

On 18th November 2017, eight members of the Anglo-Portuguese community came to the New Forest from London for a little ceremony to commemorate the arrival of a Portuguese contingent in the New Forest on 23rd November 1917 to help in the production of timber for the war effort. Some members of the Friends of the New Forest met the Portuguese party at the New Forest Inn at Emery Down for lunch and then accompanied them to the Portuguese Fireplace at Millyford Green, which had been decorated with Portuguese flags for the occasion. They were joined there by other members of the Friends of the New Forest, and their leader Bernard Hornung explained:

“There is currently no war memorial in this country to the Portuguese who died in WW1. The Portuguese Fireplace is the only memorial that exists and that is to non-combatants. This visit marks the start of the final phase of a fund-raising campaign for two Memorial Windows at the Roman Catholic Church of St James at Twickenham, which will be dedicated to the sacrifices of the Portuguese during the First World War and to the memory of the last King of Portugal.”

Richard Reeves, local historian and Friends of the New Forest council member, explaining the history of Portuguese workers
Then local historian and Friends of the New Forest Council member, Richard Reeves talked about the history behind the Fireplace and the difficulties that faced the Portuguese workers:

“From the start of the First World War, the war itself created an increased demand for timber while at the same time reducing those available to take on such work as they enlisted in the armed forces. The resultant shortage of labour was met to a certain degree by the formation of the Women’s Timber Service and Empire forestry units such as the Canadian Forestry Corps, formed in 1916. However, the need for labour was greater still and the Canadian Forestry Corps based at Millyford were joined by a Portuguese contingent of 100 men on the 23rd of November 1917.

The New Forest lumber camp became a significant settlement, covering around 4 to 5 acres. It was supported by a number of saw-mills and even a narrow gauge railway to transport the timber out of the Forest.

The Portuguese Fireplace is all that remains of this part of the war effort. The Fireplace was originally the fireplace of the camp’s cookhouse.”

Bernard Hornung presenting book to John Ward, Chairman of Friends of the New Forest

Bernard Hornung presenting book to John Ward, Chairman of Friends of the New Forest

Finally a toast was raised to the memory of the Portuguese workers and to the Anglo-Portuguese co-operation that they represented, Portugal being Britain’s oldest international ally. Some of the party then enjoyed a short walk in Holidays Hill Inclosure before they returned to London.

The Friends of the New Forest have just finished celebrating their own 150th anniversary with a year of events. Set up in 1867 to fight off serious threats to the Forest as we know it, the Friends (until recently known as the New Forest Association) are the only membership-based association in the New Forest that gives its members an effective voice on a wide range of New Forest issues. For 150 years their guiding purpose has been to protect, conserve and enhance the flora, fauna and heritage of the New Forest.
Portuguese fireplace, New Forest decorated with Portuguese flags

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Saving the New Forest – 150 Years

President Oliver Crosthwaite Eyre and Henry Fawcett MP

On July 22nd this year a very special meeting was held at the Crown Hotel in Lyndhurst. Attended by Lord Montagu, the Hon. Mary Montagu Scott, Lord Manners and Mr Oliver Crosthwaite Eyre among others, it was to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the New Forest Association, now known as the Friends of the New Forest. And the special guests were there because their ancestors were in at the start.

Why was the Association established in the first place? In 1867 the New Forest was under a very real threat to enclose all usable parts of the Crown lands for timber production and sell off the remainder. This had happened in many other Royal Forests in the preceding 60 years. Adjacent landowners were concerned about their tenants, who were smallholders relying on common rights for their animals to graze the New Forest to supplement their income. The leading lights were W.C.D. (Clement) Esdaile, George Briscoe-Eyre and Lord Henry Scott (later to become Lord Montagu).

Ten of these landowners met in London in June 1867 at the Chelsea home of George Eyre and his son Briscoe to discuss the problem and agreed that something must be done. In very British fashion they agreed to set up an association. At a meeting in Lyndhurst in the heart of the New Forest on July 22nd 1867, probably at the Crown Hotel, it was resolved: “That this meeting approves of an Association being formed for the preservation of the open lands of the New Forest, and for the general protection of the Commoners rights over the Forest.” The name of the New Forest Association was swiftly adopted.

The purpose of the Association was to find a way of protecting the rights of the commoners and to prevent the break-up of the Forest into timber plantations. The founding secretary, W.C.D. Esdaile, along with George Briscoe Eyre and Lord Henry Scott, worked hard to alert the public to the losses that would occur to the nation if this land was enclosed and lost forever. Two parliamentary reviews, a major London Art Exhibition, scores of letters in the national press and ten years were to pass before the 1877 New Forest Act was made law and the future of the New Forest made certain.

The Association was the second environmental body to be set up in Britain, just two years after the Open Spaces Society in 1865. Every time there was a threat to the New Forest, the organisation swung into action and helped to save the day. In its 150th anniversary year, it rebranded itself as the Friends of the New Forest in order to explain its role and attract new members. Now as the Forest faces increasing pressures from development and over-use for recreation, it needs its Friends more than ever.

The present day Association chairman, John Ward, talked about the contrast between the nineteenth century threats of destruction and harmful change to the New Forest and the pressures that beset it today, saying: “When the Association was founded it was to save the Forest from the destructive intentions of those government bodies responsible for its management.”

“Today the largest threat and greatest management challenge comes not from ‘those in charge’ but from the sheer scale of those meaning no harm, but coming to the Forest in ever greater numbers wishing to enjoy the Forest as a recreation destination. Fragile habitats, tranquillity and a sense of remoteness are essential but illusive special New Forest qualities that require protection.”

He said that we could learn from the pioneering campaign efforts made 150 years ago: “Our founding fathers were innovative in their campaigning, organising an art exhibition in London to raise awareness of the Forest’s natural beauty, in addition to the expected letters in the Times and Questions in Parliament.”

“We must be equally creative in campaigning to protect the New Forest, adapting to a new digital age, social media and sound-bites if we are to persuade people of the need to cherish and protect those special qualities that make this a unique landscape.”

Oliver Crosthwaite Eyre, President of the Association, said: ” Only a handful of charities can say that they have existed for 150 years and been so successful and active throughout that time. I think the Founding Fathers of our Association would be enormously proud of what has been achieved by its members over so many generations to protect and conserve the New Forest since 1867. One thing will never change, and that is the shared love of this unique and beautiful place that the Association’s members have always had: that is our strength and it will serve the Association and Forest well for the next 150 years.” He then invited those present to raise a glass to the memory of the Founders and to the Association’s future.

The present day meeting was then entertained by actor Desmond Longfield of the Redlynch Players in period costume purporting to be MP Henry Fawcett and reading a speech based loosely on one he made in 1871, albeit with allusions to the current threats facing the Forest.

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Members Event and AGM – 22nd April 2017

The 2017 Members Event and Association AGM will be held:
Saturday 22nd April
Minstead Hall, Minstead SO43 7FX,
Starting at 10.00am


PROGRAMME

10.00 am: Coffee and tea available
10.30 am: ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
DOWNLOAD ANNUAL REPORT and AGM AGENDA 

11.00 am: MEMBERS EVENT
Peter Roberts: The lighter side of our history
John Ward: Our Agenda: What have we been doing and how are we getting on?
Panel Discussion: Raise questions and issues for the Friends to address, with Graham Baker, Clive Chatters, Gale Gould, Brian Tarnoff and John Ward. (Please notify us of your questions/issues in advance on booking form below if possible to allow time for research where needed, or hand them in at the start of the meeting.)

12.30 pm: BUFFET LUNCH – @£7 per person. Bar open. please pre-book on form below

Afternoon Activities please pre-book on form below:

  • Self-guided visit to nearby Furzey Gardens, where the azaleas and rhododendrons should be in flower. We have negotiated a reduced entry fee of £6.50 (usually £8), and cream tea for £6.95 if you wish
  • 2.30 pm Guided visit (I hour) to Minstead Study Centre, run by Hampshire County Council, which aims to advance lifelong learning for sustainability. A chance to learn about their innovative educational work here in the Forest with primary school children and adults.Recommended minimum donation to the Friends of Minstead Study Centre £5 per person please.(Max. group size 30 people)

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Maldwin Drummond OBE 1932-2017

It is with sadness that we record the death of Maldwin Drummond on Saturday 18th February.

The official notice of his death reads:
Maldwin Andrew Cyril died peacefully on 18th February 2017, aged 84. Much loved husband of Gilly, father of Frederica, Annabella and Aldred, step-father to Sophie, Ariane and Laura. Service at Fawley Church, Hampshire 11am Thursday, 16th March. Family flowers only. Leading protagonist for the conservation of historic ships including SS Great Britain, HMS Warrior and Cutty Sark, environmentalist and author. Recently reprinted, with illustrations by Martyn Mackrill, The Riddle, the background to The Riddle of the Sands first published in 1985.
Donations, if desired, to:
The UK Associates of Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences: Ocean Science Scholarships for UK Students https://secure.thebiggive.org.uk/charity/view/64489.
HMS INVINCIBLE Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust: http://www.thisismast.org/hms-invincible.html – Contact: Claire House-Norman, Fundraising Director chousenorman@bournemouth.ac.uk.
FRIENDS of the NEW FOREST http://newforestassociation.org/


In addition to his many other accomplishments and public service ranging from the RNLI to the Cutty Sark, Maldwin has been a stalwart friend and champion of the New Forest for many years.

He became an elected verderer in the early 1960s and served until 1990, but it was not long before he was once again in the court as the appointed Official Verderer from 1999 to 2002. During his time as a verderer Maldwin was deeply involved in the 1964 New Forest Act together with the radical measures brought in to save the Forest from being overwhelmed by visitors – controlled camping and car parking on designated sites and elsewhere a car-free Forest with ditches and dragons teeth to curb the free-for-all.

At a time in the late 1980s when the fragmented governance of the New Forest was increasingly seen to be to the Forest’s detriment, but there was no appetite for yet another official body, he became the chair of a newly formed New Forest Committee, which brought together the different Forest bodies into a more co-ordinated forum. With only a small staff, but guided by Maldwin’s great enthusiasm from 1990 to 1998, a great deal was achieved to set out principles for the long-term protection of the Forest and in winning funding bids to support environmental and nature conservation improvement projects, notably from the EU LIFE programme.

As one might expect, Maldwin Drummond was also directly engaged with and a supporter of the New Forest Association. He served as our President from 1973 to 1983 and again from 2003 to 2009.

1997 was the 900th anniversary of the establishment of the New Forest as a royal hunting preserve. Maldwin, as President of the New Forest Association, thought that this occasion should be marked by something more durable than just a firework display or television documentary (although it got that too) and came up with the idea of tapestry. The Association agreed and we set up a tapestry sub-committee. With Maldwin in charge this was not to be just a ‘talking shop’. The tapestry morphed into an embroidery and Belinda Lady Montagu was commissioned to design the work and then transform it into reality. Sketches turned into a design. Experts were consulted to ensure the historical accuracy of depicted scenes and the 25ft long project was begun. Many many helpers were recruited and like a giant jigsaw puzzle it was completed. The embroidery is now on permanent loan from the Association to the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst.

“It is a vision of a countryside managed with care and concern for future generations.
We all have a role in conserving the Forest and must take opportunity to turn words in into actions”

Maldwin Drummond, 1996 – from his foreword to the Strategy for the New Forest prepared by the New Forest Committee under his chairmanship.

DONATIONS to the FRIENDS OF THE NEW FOREST in MEMORY of MALDWIN DRUMMOND may be made on our website: http://newforestassociation.org/donate/

 

 

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What Future for the New Forest?

2017 will be a year of celebration for the New Forest Association marking our 150th anniversary, but is also a time for reflection on the present day state of the New Forest, its future prospects and the main issues on which our Association should focus our campaigns.

We need to ask ourselves:
Do we accept that we might be able to slow the process, but the fate of the Forest is to suffer a steady decline of its unique special qualities as the National Park is inexorably reduced to being a Suburban Park hemmed in on all sides by development and just too small not to be overwhelmed by too many people with too much activity and too many vehicles?   Or, can the New Forest be saved from a multiplicity of cumulatively harmful impacts so that our vision of the New Forest might yet be sustained?

The Association’s 150th anniversary launch event on 24th January was an evening all about these questions, where the New Forest is going and the challenges before us today.

Clive Chatters, who is Council member of the Association, gave the keynote address

Followed by responses from:

  • Alison Barnes, Chief Executive of the New Forest National Park Authority
  • Bruce Rothney, Deputy Surveyor for the New Forest
  • Dominic May, Official Verderer

and participants from the audience of 200 people.

The launch event turned into a must-be-at New Forest occasion, with all seats ‘sold out’. With his provocative keynote address “The New Forest: a foot in the past and an eye to the future”, Clive Chatter’s spoke of a landscape derived from pastoralism now set in a suburban matrix, of unparalleled natural wealth being overwhelmed by affluence. He identified the management of recreation in the Forest being a key issue, and concluded that ‘this generation’s responsibility to secure the future of the Forest now lies with us’.

Clive’s inspiring talk was followed by responses from Alison Barnes, Chief Executive of the New Forest National Park Authority, and Bruce Rothnie, Deputy Surveyor of the New Forest. Before comments and questions from the floor, Dominic May, Official Verderer, challenged the public authorities to control creeping damage from recreation overuse to avoid conflict with the unique qualities of the Forest. Concluding the evening, Oliver Crosthwaite Eyre, President of the Friends of the New Forest and Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, alluded to the many challenges facing the Forest, paid tribute to the work of the Association since its inception, and commented that ‘the Forest needs all the Friends it can get.

While it was not an evening to solve all of the issues threatening or supporting the Forest’s future, they were well examined and many challenges (and some achievements) were identified in the course of the evening. There seemed to be an emerging concensus that particularly with respect to recreation management, it feels like ‘one of those moments for bold decision making’.

If you were not able to be there, read the text of the presentations and a transcript of audience contributions below:

Download a PDF
DOWNLOAD

Or read it on screen below:

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Schools Project Competition – £1,000 PRIZE

It is today’s young people who will need to solve many problems if the New Forest is to survive and prosper for the benefit and enjoyment of their own and later generations. But to solve problems, first it is necessary to know and understand the context. To help achieve that objective we are commemorating our 150th Anniversary Year in 2017 by sponsoring a Schools’ Project Competition with a £1000 prize. The main objectives of the competition are:

  • To encourage the interest, education and enjoyment of secondary school students in matters concerning the New Forest.
  • To foster students’ understanding that the New Forest is a unique, precious and irreplaceable resource, and encourage a wish to conserve and sustain it for the benefit of their own and future generations.
  • To support teachers in helping students acquire transferable skills for investigation and research individually and in groups
  • To stimulate students’ interests in ways that may contribute to their career aspirations, and to help students clarify their immediate ambitions particularly with regard to potential pathways through further or higher education.

Entry Guidelines for Schools and Colleges

Subjects:
Any that has the New Forest explicitly as the focus for study, e.g. relating to its natural history, ecology, environment, conservation, society, commoning, history, archaeology, economy, forestry, farming, tourism, sport, recreation etc.

Eligibility:
The competition is intended to complement GCSE level geography, especially its field study components, both human and physical. However, any project work undertaken by students in Years 10 and 11 is eligible, irrespective of subject area, with the New Forest as its explicit focus.

The competition requires a minimum of 10 schools entering.

Format:
Competition entries normally will comprise group work. Entries may take the form of :
a) written reports of not more than 2000 words for each individual student submitted, or
b) an outline explanation of not more than 500 words accompanying other media, e.g. posters, photographs, maps, ‘Powerpoint’, etc. Teachers will be required to provide a brief written statement confirming the nature and scope of the guidance they have given.

Assessment:
Our assessment of a school’s submission will be based on:
a) relevance to the New Forest,
b) clear definition and justification for the study context,
c) ability to structure and explain the approach taken,
d) demonstrated literacy and numeracy, and
e) clarity of summary and conclusions.

The panel of assessors with relevant expertise will be drawn from the Council of the Association and chaired by Dr Keith Howe.

Incentives:
Award of a £1000 prize to the school/college submitting the best entry.
Individual students will receive certificates of attainment (distinction, merit, pass), and the best overall designated NFA Geographer of the Year.

Key dates:
•  Applicationsclosing date 5 June 2017

ENTER  enter online
pdf FORM  or download form
•  NFA receipt of project materialsclosing date, 25 July 2017
•  Result announced,
September 2017

Any questions:
Please contact Dr Keith Howe using the form below:


3d printing download

 

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Latest Improvements to NFA Map

The multi layered NFA map of the New Forest has been improved and now includes the 400 metre zone around the Special Protection Areas, Forest access points and heat maps around those points. Information tags have been associated with the new layers. Comments on the map to Graham Baker at nfaplanning@gmail.com would be welcomed. View the map here.

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The Wild Trout Trust and New Forest River Restorations

For some perspective on some of the issues raised by river restorations we contacted the Wild Trout Trust, themselves deliverers or partners in many river restoration projects addressing similar issues to those met by the Latchmore proposal.  As it turns out, they had made an advisory visit in September 2015; this was undertaken by their Conservation Officer, Mike Blackmore.

Their advisory visit programme is “very much focussed on identifying good and poor trout habitat and what can be done practically to make the poor good. Mike looked at a 1 km reach of the Brook and a 500m reach of a tributary, the Thompson’s Castle Stream.” 

Their key findings were:

  • Valuable wild trout habitat is under threat by the status quo condition of the Latchmore Brook and tributaries.
  • Channel incision and accelerated morphological processes as outlined by the JBA Consulting report and as observed during the site visit are limiting the abundance and quality of marginal habitat (important for freshwater invertebrates and juvenile trout). These factors are also likely to be significantly impacting the viability of spawning habitat in the main channel.
  • Reconnecting paleo-meanders will result in a net increase in habitat for wild trout (as a result of increased channel length) and is likely to help protect existing spawning habitat by reducing the rate of channel incision and the magnitude of cut and fill events.
  • The overall paucity of in-stream and low-level bankside woody habitat features significantly limit the abundance, diversity and quality of cover and refuge habitat for trout.
  • Habitat quality and diversity is being significantly reduced by over-grazing and bank poaching by livestock.
  • Further habitat enhancement, including tree planting and the introduction and retention of woody habitat features, will be required to provide a good quality and diverse habitat for wild trout.
  • Improvement in the wild trout population of the Latchmore Brook and the aquatic ecosystem upon which it is dependent will require a significant change in land management including improved protection of the riverbanks from grazing livestock.

Their conclusions recognize the problems with the status quo and acknowledge the benefits of the project to fish species and wildlife. They also suggest measures which would make the habitat optimal for trout species, promotion of stream shading scrub, and fencing to prevent livestock poaching scrub and vegetation bankside, which would fly in the face of traditional forest management, and would even restrict the amenity in ways to which even the protesters would object.  How would Forest users react to the sight of a fenced off stream, with access only through gates?

Scrub does vary over time, and we know that historically there has been, at times, little scrub along stretches of the stream on the open forest.  Even now, there is about a kilometre stretch with next to no riparian shade.  The Commoners often push for active scrub removal to create more grazing (The NFA will usually push for key nectar species to be left where possible), and of course the livestock themselves will have nibbles that hamper growth.  

So, neither the current stream nor the proposed change would be absolutely ideal for fish species, but here’s where the point is being missed by objectors’ narrow focus.  Habitats are complex.  What benefits some species may be detrimental to others.  The biodiverse rich habitat of the New Forest is not managed solely for any single species.  Scrub removal may warm some of the unshaded water, but this will benefit the Dragonflies, even if it narrows the tolerances for the fish.

Despite the insufficient scrub, both historically and at present, fish tolerate the conditions in the Brook.  Restoring the meanders will recreate the more natural morphology that benefits these species.  The claim that changing the stream will frighten away shy fish, is refuted by many the projects elsewhere aimed at wild fish habitat improvement which restore meanders (some other successful projects go even further and create meanders), including projects directed at fisheries (over 900 in the RRC database), and even more strikingly here in the New Forest, by the fish themselves.  Brown Trout were recorded spawning in a restored section at Harvestslade within three months of the completion of that project.

We thank the Wild Trout Trust for their permission to share their findings (particularly their director, Shaun Leonard who provided the bullet point summary quoted above), and for their candour and generosity in response to our queries.  We commend them for their fine works in implementing and promoting habitat restoration. According to Environment Agency monitoring, their upper Itchen project has produced a four-fold increase in trout biomass, compared to unimproved, control sites.

For further information on some of their projects, and ways to help, on the WTT website: http://www.wildtrout.org/content/projects-1. 

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