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NFA Council and Trustees 2017-18

With our AGM fast approaching on Saturday 21st April 2018, this and next week we’ll feature our annual reports. NFA Chair John Ward reports on the work of our council and trustees on both this year’s work and our 150th Anniversary celebrations.

Formal meetings of Council were held six times and for the Board of Trustees four times during 2017. In addition there were regular meetings of the Habitats and Landscape Committee and the Planning and Transport Committee; and also ad hoc meetings of the Education Working Group. At the end of 2017 there were eight trustees and sixteen nontrustee members of Council.

We have continued to share issues and experiences with other National Park Societies and as a Council member of the Campaign for National Parks (CNP): and have collaborated with them to co-ordinate responses to government and other national consultations and draft proposals that will affect National Parks. Examples of national consultations and draft proposals with implications for the New Forest that have crossed our desks in 2017 include:

  • Department of Transport consultation on the future of strategic roads
  • Emergency Services Network (ESN) – mobile communications
  • Campaign for Better Transport Report
  • Ofgem open letter on RIIO-2 Framework
  • Electricity transmission owner stakeholder consultation
  • Government Housing White Paper
  • Government proposals for Permitted Development Rights
  • Proposed UK Minerals Strategy

We have held informal liaison meetings with the National Park Authority and Forestry Commission; and attend various New Forest forums and working groups including the Consultative Panel and meetings of the Verderers Court. The Friends of the New Forest were in evidence on stands at the New Forest Show and at Roydon Woods Woodfair. Sponsorship funding support was given for the animal accident ‘advert’ on the back of the New Forest Tour bus through 2017; and also for the ‘Our Past Our Future’ projects for ranger training and for habitat restoration. The Association had previously committed to support the project to develop housing for commoners at Rockford farm and during 2017 we contributed to the costs of preparing drawings and making a planning application. On the research side we made a funding contribution to the New Forest Curlew Project.

2017 was, of course, our 150th Anniversary year. At the end of 2016 we launched “Saving the New Forest”, the book written by Peter Roberts telling the story of our Association. It has been selling well throughout 2017. The story of the Association and the New Forest from the mid 19th century until today was put together into a slide show presentation. This has been given to more than 20 groups, reaching over 1,000 people most of whom had not previously heard of us and gaining donations to support our work to protect the Forest.

We organised and hosted the National Parks Societies annual conference, held this year in October at Balmer Lawn Hotel and attended by 50 delegates from other national parks, the Campaign for National Parks, other national bodies and New Forest organisations.

During the year our Anniversary programme provided 16 events. Walks and visits included, the Verderers Court and Lyndhurst Church, Archaeology in Sloden Inclosure, Caring for Pondhead Inclosure, Needs Ore, Rockford and a Fungi Walk at Rans Wood. Following the AGM there were options to visit Furzey Gardens or Minstead Study Centre.

Two events were held specifically to celebrate the 150-year anniversary:

  • Lunch at MJs restaurant was attended by our Patron, Belinda Lady Montagu, and President, Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, together with NFA members and trustees, affiliated Parishes and representatives from the Forestry Commission, Verderers, Commoners and National Park Authority.
  • Council members and invited guests gathered at the Crown Hotel in Lyndhurst on the 22nd of July to raise a glass and mark the day on which the New Forest Association was founded.

We held two receptions and exhibition private views – The New Forest Open Art Exhibition at the New Forest Centre, and New Forest Bird Sculpture by Geoffrey Dashwood at St Barbe Museum and Gallery.

Purely social events proved to be less popular with Friends of the New Forest and a summer garden party and an autumn golf day were cancelled due to lack of support. Unfortunately the intended Frohawk Walk was also cancelled at short notice due to a gypsy drive-in clashing with this event. Ours was not the only anniversary this year. It was the 800th anniversary of the New Forest Charter and panels about the New Forest Association were included in a display at the New Forest Centre. In November we hosted a small delegation from the Anglo-Portuguese community who visited the New Forest in November to mark the 100th anniversary of the arrival of 150 Portuguese troops to assist with timber production for the war effort.

Two large events for 200 people, both of which were booked out with waiting lists, provided the bookends for the Anniversary Year.

The first was “What Future for the New Forest – A Foot in the Past and an Eye to the Future”, with a keynote address from Council member, Clive Chatters followed by responses from Alison Barnes, Chief Executive of the New Forest National Park Authority, Bruce Rothney, Deputy Surveyor for the New Forest and Dominic May, Official Verderer, together with the audience. Clive identified the management of recreation in the Forest as being a key issue, and concluded that ‘this generation’s responsibility to secure the future of the Forest now lies with us’. By the end of the evening there seemed to be an emerging consensus, particularly with respect to recreation management, that it feels like ‘one of those moments for bold decision making’.

Our final, very well attended event was “An Evening of New Forest Films with Lord Montagu”. This was hosted at the John Montagu Theatre in the Beaulieu Motor Museum, and featured a fascinating array of archive footage of the Forest, some not publicly viewed previously. We thank both Lord Montagu and Dr. Manuel Hinge for this most fitting closing event for our Anniversary year, and their untiring efforts to preserve films that provide an historical, cultural, and community window on the Forest.

Recreation management continued to be a major issue for us through the year. There have been several presentments to the Verderers Court echoing similar concerns, and at the New Forest Show the National Park Authority launched a consultation on reviewing their Recreation Management Strategy. We responded to this consultation and also opened up a dialogue on the subject with the Forestry Commission. We believe this is the most pressing issue needing to be addressed within the Forest and significant action must to be taken to review and change the recreation infrastructure within the Forest. To succeed his must be driven by the statutory authorities with as much vision as those who implemented the 1971 Conservation of the New Forest proposals and not just end in fine words but with little tangible effect.

Chair – John Ward

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Whistleblower Leaks Plan to Convert Forest To Car Park

artist’s sketch of the whistleblower

In what may be an advance preview of the next Recreation Management Strategy, a whistleblower has come forward with information indicating plans afoot to pave the entire Forest to put up a parking lot. The whistleblower, only willing to be identified by the handle JMitchell@CanyonLadies70, has hinted at other coming developments, but it is unclear whether these plans are from the National Park Authority or the District Council.

For now, the locations are vague (a comment about boutiques has suggested Lyndhurst), but, with some deduction, there is a chance that the Lyndhurst Park Hotel will be released from its development limbo to reopen under a fresh coat of pink paint and with a new entertainment venue described as a “swingin’ hot spot”.

The deforestation resulting from this paving project will require relocation of some conifers, and ostensibly large deciduous plants for viewing by the public. Another surmise is that this display may be in the New Forest Centre. However, no representatives of the Ninth Centenary Trust who run the Centre could be contacted on this proposed conversion of the Centre to a tree museum, nor the plan to abandon the Centre’s free entry policy to charge the people a dollar-and-a-half (just over £1 pound sterling, as determined by American tourist focus groups, as what it would be worth “just to see ‘em”).

The Forestry Commission has also been unavailable to comment on whether the proposed deforestation is within the scope of their Forest Design Plan, and the rumour that glyphosate may not be available post-Brexit, requiring use of the even more controversial DDT for control of pest plants like the non-native rhododendron. The informant did express concerns, which we believe are unfounded, that this may affect their right to forage for apples on the Crown Lands; although we do concur with worries over the effect of the pesticide on birds and the declining population of bees.

When asked why he/she had come forward, the whistleblower said that people “don’t know what they’ve got till it’s gone”. In this reporter’s experience it does always seem to go that way. When confronted with the NFA’s research showing no known basis of these plans from any of the relevant authorities, the informer fled the café, slamming the screen door on the way, and hopped in a big yellow taxi which sped off.

It is not known whether there will be car parking charges or a clock scheme. An unidentified Natural England contact may have stated “we welcome this plan as it will give visitors a place to put their cars when they come to use the boardwalk we’re erecting around the entire coast.”

It is worth noting, that beyond the lack of corroboration, the meaning of this article will evaporate to mere satire by noon on the date of publication. Whether the satire is weak, or based on deeper truths, is entirely up to you, dear reader.  If we have inadvertently misled, feel free to contact the relevant authorities, be sure to tell them “Shooo bop bop bop bop!” (with apologies to J Mitchell).
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Friends of the New Forest help to purchase ‘a secret forest’ in the north of the New Forest National Park.

RSPB Franchises Lodge - credit Terry Bagley

The trustees, members and supporters of the Friends of the New Forest (New Forest Association) are celebrating the purchase of a nature reserve, near Nomansland in Wiltshire, which is being hailed as a significant opportunity to create a nature rich bridge between two already internationally important areas.

Franchises Lodge, is a 386 hectare (almost 1,000 acres) woodland of deciduous and conifer trees. National wildlife charity RSPB, which has been the lead organisation for the project, describes it as a “secret forest” that – because it has largely been inaccessible to the public for many years – is home to a wide range of birds, invertebrates and plant life. The acquisition has been facilitated through a gift in respect of a settlement between the previous owners and HMRC, a generous legacy, and support from the New Forest National Park Authority and the Friends of the New Forest.

Mike Clarke, the RSPB’s Chief Executive said: “This is one of the most significant purchases in our 129 year history.  It is also our first nature reserve in the New Forest. We are delighted to take on the land from its previous owners who we know are passionate about the site, its woodlands and wildlife and we hope to build on their work over the years, safeguarding it for future generations.”

In its vision for the near 1000-acre site the RSPB will be focusing on maintaining the existing broadleaf woodland, enhancing areas of wood pasture and recreating open heath.

To date, the site has been under the careful stewardship of the previous owners.  Initial surveys confirm the site has a good woodland bird community, including wood warbler, hawfinch, spotted flycatcher, firecrest and redstart.  These woods are also known to be fascinating botanically, with an internationally important lichen community. It’s also good for a range of invertebrates, from beetles to butterflies.

John Ward, Chairman of the Friends of the New Forest said:

“I am delighted to see the successful outcome to a process which we helped inaugurate.

The Friends of the New Forest were a primary influence in initiating and motivating the project.  Some of our Council members were able to provide expertise and guidance to the partnership group that was set up under the leadership of the RSPB. The team at the RSPB has put in a tremendous amount of work over the past five years. We are inordinately grateful to them for managing the project and achieving the significant result we are celebrating today.

The Friends of the New Forest could immediately see the benefit from an extended ‘New Forest’ on several grounds, including heathland habitat restoration, potential to reduce pressure on existing lands, and an opportunity for links with other areas through wildlife corridors and were able to contribute £25,000 towards the purchase of the site.

I would like to thank our members and pay tribute to those who have given donations and gifts in their wills that have enabled us to support this worthy project. We feel this justifies their faith in our work of protecting and restoring the unique character of the New Forest. This is a great day for the New Forest and I am exceedingly proud of what has been achieved by collaborative working.”

The RSPB is now working with partners on an ambitious 25 year vision for Franchises Lodge. To realise the site’s full potential for people and wildlife the RSPB will be launching a major public appeal in May.

Although there are public rights of way through the site, there is no car parking or facilities on the reserve and these are limited nearby. The RSPB is therefore not encouraging visitors at this time.

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DEVELOPMENT THREAT TO THE NEW FOREST

DEVELOPMENT THREAT TO THE NEW FOREST – URGENT
Please help us to help the New Forest. Your action is needed now!

Friends of the New Forest (New Forest Association) is urging our members and supporters to respond to a public consultation in order to protect part of the New Forest National Park from a development scheme that is proposing over 1500 houses (bigger than the size of Lyndhurst) to be built on or near the site of Fawley Power Station.

We believe that this development will have a detrimental impact on the ecology of the area and are urging people to oppose the scheme before the public consultation deadline to the National Park Authority Local Plan ends on 28th February.

Although the Fawley Power Station site itself is in the control of New Forest District Council, it is an ‘island’ within the National Park and the development impacts will fall heavily on the National Park. The proposals of the National Park Authority’s Local Plan could pave the way to development of 1500 or more houses that would clearly constitute a major development.

Your comments on Fawley Power Station Site in the New Forest National Park Authorities Plan should reflect:

• Need for use of site for building not proven.
• Site could be made safe and managed for conservation.
• In the long term the site could be included within the National Park.

If it is developed on the scale proposed (1500 houses) there will a catastrophic environmental impact on the New Forest:

• Extra traffic will cause loss of tranquillity
• Increased risk to Forest livestock – may lead to road widening and fencing.
• Extra recreation will bring more litter and more disturbances.
• Extra recreational horse keeping will raise the cost of renting back up land to beyond what a commoner can afford.

A town of this size will require additional development of schools, surgeries, shops, and pubs.
It will be larger than Lyndhurst (1374 households at 2011) – Would this be tolerated in, say, the Lake District?

In addition it is stated that National Park land will be required for an additional 120 houses:

‘Viability work commissioned by the Authority and New Forest District Council concludes that without some limited development in the National Park, this major brownfield site could only come forward with a very high density development on the brownfield site outside the National Park – development that in itself would have a detrimental impact on the surrounding National Park. ‘

This feels like being held to ransom and is clearly nonsense.

Many of the National Park Authority members are also Councillors of NFDC who are pursuing this development.  How independent is the National Park Authority and how does this development meet the dual purposes of the Park?

This development does not foster the economic and social well-being of the local communities within the National Park – it drops a complete new settlement into its midst which does not in any way comply with National Park purposes.

Another major anomaly is the lack of protection for back-up grazing land. The practice of commoning is recognised as essential to the ecological and heritage assets of the area. Policy SP48 includes ‘…resisting the loss of back-up grazing (which is fundamental to commoning) through development…’

BUT Local Plan Policies SP22 and SP24 recommend approval for 60 houses at Ashurst and 40 houses at Sway that would result in the loss of back up grazing in direct contradiction to the earlier policy.

PLEASE OBJECT TO THE LOCAL PLAN
BEFORE THE END OF THIS MONTH
Particularly Policies SP22, SP24 and SP25

YOU MAY OBJECT BY emailing THE NATIONAL PARK PLANNING TEAM AT:
policy@newforestnpa.gov.uk

OR

BY FILLING IN THE NATIONAL PARK AUTHORITY FORM AT:
https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GJRLLJJ

Information about the local plan and a copy of the local plan are here:
http://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/info/20040/planning_policy/361/local_plan

We are grateful for your support.

Friends of the New Forest
Registered Charity No. 260328

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Recreation Management Strategy and Solent Recreation Mitigation Partnership Strategy

Our representation to Public Questions from the January meeting of the New Forest National Park Authority. We point out flaws in the draft interpretation of last years Recreation Management Strategy Survey (which goes too far in over egging the results), and the undercooked Solent Recreation Mitigation Partnership Strategy (which doesn’t go nearly far enough).

Solent Recreation Mitigation Partnership Strategy

… is an important initiative, however it currently falls short by only considering SPA planning designations and not the full range of important coastal and international designations. As with much mitigation work, little has been done to scale the mitigation to the level of protected features (Thames Basin Heaths is a decent baseline, but has much fewer protected features than our coastline).[*] The Government’s new 25 Year Environment Plan seeks to boost conservation of both designated and undesignated habitats. With these shortcomings, and the new considerations of the recently minted 25 year plan, it would be premature to adopt. We hope you will seek a review and have the strategy amended accordingly.

Recreation Management Strategy

I have previously noted problems with the survey. It made far too much reference to the previous RMS, including out-of-context headings (not even explained as “Summary of 2010 actions”), which constrained much debate to those topics, and were seen as manipulative leading statements. The responses are from an unscientific self-selecting sample, and although the Findings Report admits this[†], it then characterizes some results as authoritative, an unwarranted exaggeration. I’ll give one example:

“Implement and promote the England Coast Path and associated access rights” was the survey summary for Coastal Access. This provided no explanation that the “Associated rights” included coastal margin / spreading room which would potentially turn 3500 acres of our most sensitive breeding and wintering bird habitats (with up to five overlapping layers of national and international designations including an Area of Special Protection) into access land. 23 respondents thought ”the route will attract people away from more sensitive inland areas” (a polar opposite of the truth). It is more than likely that few had heard of the ECP outside of the survey, or would have nominated it, if it hadn’t been mentioned. Yet the concluding report states “The consultation responses suggest that there is wide public support for the England Coast Path,”[‡] which is a very strong extrapolation of 22% of 1500 respondents[§]. If less than a quarter support a proposal, is that wide? If mooted, absent its implications, is that even valid?

Although I do not doubt the hard work, enthusiasm, and sincerity of those conducting this opinion poll. Please do not take as a referendum what has been a success of public engagement, but falls very short of providing anything more than the vaguest bellwether. The Recreation Management Strategy should be driven primarily by the need to fulfill the purposes and protect the special qualities of the National Park. It should focus on specific and practical steps for Management of Recreation not another list of aspirations promising delivery of recreation.

Unfortunately the format of Public Questions at NFNPA meetings limits each speaker to 3 minutes, even when speaking on multiple subjects. This requires a terse approach and presumption of knowledge of underlying reports (which NPA members ought to, but are not guaranteed to have read or digested). Further reading for the curious is noted below:

[*] NFNPA 538/18 – Solent Recreation Mitigation Partnership Strategy Adoption Annex 1 page 19 6.15 “The methodology used to calculate the figures is based on that developed by LPA’s within the Thames Basin Heaths mitigation scheme.”

[†] NFNPA 539/18 Recreation Management Strategy Annex 1 Findings Report “No attempt was made to limit participation in the consultation to a balanced and representative sample survey approach of the local (or wider) population.” page 3 para 8

[‡] NFNPA 539/18 – Recreation Management Strategy Annex 2 page 8, 3.7

[§] 528 (34%) responded to the “Coastal Access” heading, 343 (22%) supported the summary of the topic actions.

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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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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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Recreation Management Strategy Survey Response

Our response to the Future Forest RMS Survey launched by the New Forest National Park Authority.  We call for priority projects to address outdated infrastructure, boost regard for protecting the Forest with neighbouring authorities, and education focusing on the Forest status as a National Nature Reserve and working commoning landscape.  We sidestepped the unintentionally restrictive and misleading elements of the survey (including categories and canned language from the previous Strategy document) to focus on demand for plans for action with clear goals and realistic time frames.

Recreation Management Strategy Survey Response

The New Forest Association welcomes this opportunity to feed into ongoing Recreation Management on the New Forest and this survey meant to guide the Strategy’s next incarnation. We hope this process will deliver a more focussed strategy that yields high priority projects to reform our outdated recreation infrastructure, and elevates the discussion of the National Park as a protected natural landscape requiring a duty of care from ourselves and our neighbours.

Reference to Park Purposes and Special Qualities

Both the New Forest National Park and its younger sibling, the South Downs, are the two most densely populated national parks in the UK, and have significant populations in environs for regular use and day visitors. Unlike the less populated, more remote parks, the recreation management goals should firmly be based on the purpose to Protect.

This is summed up in English National Parks and the Broads UK Government Vision and Circular 2010:

However, in light of research published in 2005 (20), the Government recognises that not all forms of outdoor recreation are appropriate in each Park and that activities which would have an adverse impact on the Parks’ special qualities and other people’s enjoyment of them may need to be excluded (in order to meet the requirements of section 11A(2) of the 1949 Act).

All of the “Special qualities”: outstanding natural beauty, habitat, heritage, commoning / working forest, free roaming livestock, tranquillity, quiet recreation, low levels of urbanisation are under threat from increased recreation pressure which disturbs and destroys habitat, creates wear and tear on the fabric of the Forest and interrupts tranquillity. The aim is not to invite more recreation than the Forest may sustain, but to protect the Forest by managing the recreation that takes place here, and honour the Sandford Principle as enshrined by the 1995 Act.

An Actual Management Strategy

We need more focus on practical, achievable goals, along with a plan that can achieve them within defined timeframes to which the Park and its stakeholders may commit. It’s all very well and good to list our many aspirations as the current strategy does, but few of the “within 5 years” goals have been achieved in its first seven years.

The main way we can control where recreation happens within the Forest is where people park and camp. Outside of the Park we can call for greater alternative recreation provision, and less development that swells the population and moves a hard urban edge toward the park boundaries. Priority projects must be chosen and developed from our aspirations, to achieve significant gains to Protect the Forest, particularly the open access areas of the Crown Lands and their adjacent Commons.

Infrastructure Within the Park

(Sustainable services and facilities / Camping and caravanning / Joined Up Routes / England Coast Path)

We’ve inherited an outdated infrastructure imposed in the 1960’s that replaced the previous free for all with over 130 Forestry Commission car parks and 10 camp sites. While these disperse activity throughout the Forest, and have come to be relied on by their users, no one can say that they are in the best places to protect our more sensitive habitats and species from disturbance. We do know that the campsites in the A&O Woodlands of Holland’s Wood and Denny were slated for removal under the SAC Management Plan 2001 (their management for camping has degraded their habitat, our campsite survey showed these have less than half the canopy they ought).

Practical steps to make this provision fit for purpose must be taken. A straightforward assessment of the current provision could easily be carried out ASAP. A well designed assessment of the habitat to create the evidence base against which to model future proposals for recreation infrastructure placement would be the next highest priority. Discussions may include charging for car parks to cover maintenance and on the ground resources, models for camping provision both elsewhere on FC land and/or on private land. Delivery of “joined up routes” and The England Coast Path would be subject to the results of any relevant habitat assessments and should not go forward in their absence.

Infrastructure Outside the Park

(Influencing recreational provision beyond the boundaries of the National Park)

A huge wave of development is proposed on our borders, given little strategic consideration for the Park, unreasonable housing targets from Central Government for all local authorities, token mitigation which does not adequately reflect the value of the Forest, we’ve little hope for avoiding a substantial increase of recreational activity that will be dumped on the Forest. The Forest is under a palpable threat, and needs influence on both development and recreation provision outside the Park.

Our adjacent and concurrent authorities have shown little respect to their Environment Act 1995 Section 62 duty to have regard to National Park purposes. Sometimes the opposite, Test Valley Borough Council once proposed using National Trust Foxbury (adjacent to Common and an SSSI candidate) within the park as SANG mitigation for one of their housing schemes. Section 62 must be considered by our neighbours, not merely for mitigation purposes but for all development.

The mitigation regime is limited, flawed, and does not proportionally value the New Forest. SANG mitigation schemes are based on figures developed by Natural England regarding the Thames Basin Heaths SPA which has a fraction of the notified features that the New Forest possesses, if these were properly scaled up to reflect the Forest’s relative habitat value, many SANG’s on offer would need to be nearly the size of the Forest itself. SANG sites themselves may have their own designated habitats that are sacrificed, and many are proposed with no long term plan or funding for their maintenance.

We must make the debate about these allocations more visible, more public. The New Forest is the last stand for many of its habitats throughout the UK, it is of national and international importance, our neighbours and central government need to be constantly reminded of this.

Education

(Raising awareness and understanding)

Whilst this is already the National Park’s strongest suit, there are certain nuances missing. The National Park has made great inroads in areas such as social media. However, even at our own 150th Anniversary keynote event in January 2017, the audience of very engaged locals clearly included many who still did not understand the Park’s purposes, functions or capabilities. This perhaps suggests that the Park still has work to do piercing the bubble beyond their current success.

One of the key problems the National Park has to overcome, is the word “Park” in its name, which too often is taken for “a large public garden or area of land used for recreation” . Explaining the legislation that gives the “National” prefix its protective connotation, and the slew of habitat designations and their acronyms does not thoroughly dispel that erroneous notion. The message up front should be simplified, the Crown Lands have the status of a National Nature Reserve, a Working Farm and Forest. With that in mind we can then ask “what activities are appropriate there”, “in order to protect such a place, what are you willing to do differently or do without?” “We have the privilege of open access to this place, what responsibilities must we take on?”

Conclusions

The next RMS should include the following priority projects:

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

Whilst other aspirations remain, solid plans and policies addressing these areas will have the most impact. Consultation over future versions of the RMS should include messages consistent with the National Park’s purposes and priorities, and not be shy in making a case for resources and changes necessary for implementation. The NFA hope to be able to support this Authority in its efforts to Manage Recreation in The New Forest, and willing to lend our time, knowledge and resources towards achieving these priority tasks in provision redesign, influence on strategic planning and mitigation, and education.


ADDENDUM:

English National Parks and the Broads
UK
Government Vision and Circular 2010

4. Priority Outcomes for 2010 – 2015 and suggested actions
4.1 A Renewed Focus on Achieving the Park Purposes page 10

  1. The Parks contain a variety of landscapes, capable of accommodating many different types of leisure activity. Authorities should continue to identify and promote new access and recreational opportunities and ways of delivering them, working proactively with a range of statutory and non-statutory interests such as local access forums (see section 5.6), Natural England, English Heritage, voluntary sectors and, particularly, farmers, commoners and landowners. However, in light of research published in 2005 (20), the Government recognises that not all forms of outdoor recreation are appropriate in each Park and that activities which would have an adverse impact on the Parks’ special qualities and other people’s enjoyment of them may need to be excluded (in order to meet the requirements of section 11A(2) of the 1949 Act).

(20 Demand for Outdoor Recreation in the English National Parks – Countryside Agency October 2004 (updated March 2005 and published alongside a Guide to Good Practice in managing and promoting outdoor recreation in the Parks) )

NFNPA/RPC 51/08 Page 1

The National Park’s special qualities
The New Forest National Park’s landscape is unique; it is a ‘living’ and working remnant of medieval England with an overwhelming sense of continuity, tradition, and history. It is the survival of not just one special quality but a whole range of features that brings a sense of completeness and integrity.

These features include:

  • the New Forest’s outstanding natural beauty: the sights, sounds and smells of ancient woodland with veteran trees, heathland, bog, autumn colour and an unspoilt coastline with views of the Solent and Isle of Wight
  • an extraordinary diversity of plants and animals of international importance
  • a unique historic, cultural and archaeological heritage from royal hunting ground to ship-building, salt making and 500 years of military coastal defence
  • an historic commoning system that maintains so much of what people know and love as ‘the New Forest’ forming the heart of a working landscape based on farming and forestry
  • the iconic New Forest Pony together with donkeys, pigs and cattle roaming free
  • tranquillity in the midst of the busy, built up south of England
  • wonderful opportunities for quiet recreation, learning and discovery in one of the last extensive, gentle landscapes in the south including unmatched open access on foot and horseback
  • a healthy environment: fresh air, clean water, local produce and a sense of ‘wildness’, low levels of urbanisation
  • strong and distinctive local communities with real pride in and sense of identity with their local area

 

  • SUMMARY: outstanding natural beauty, habitat, heritage, commoning / working forest, free roaming livestock, tranquillity, quiet recreation, low levels of urbanisation, local communities
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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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