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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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Public Pressure on the Forest : Presentment from the New Forest Young Commoners Group

Here we welcome a guest post from Oliver Cook, Chair of the New Forest Forest Young Commoners Committee, who gave this Presentment in this month’s Verderers Court.

As Young Commoners, we recognise the vital contribution that tourism plays in the local economy and through the very definition of “Commoning” we very much understand the concept of sharing this remarkable area that we are fortunate enough to live and work in with others.

Despite this we too are genuinely concerned by the effect that ever increasing public pressure is having on the Forest’s Landscape, ecology and traditional practices (particularly commoning). Greater visitor numbers is not something that is going to change, nor should it, however we believe that actions must be taken now to help manage the associated impact.

This is not the responsibility of any one body. We believe that it is the responsibility of all individuals and organisations that have a management role or other interest in the Forest. The commoning community is currently looking into how social media can help educate visitors of the Forest to ensure that they are better informed on how the commoning system works and how they can come and see our livestock without inadvertently putting themselves or our animals in danger. We are here today to call for support from the key Forest Authorities to assist us in our challenge, and we make the following four requests and recommendations:

  1. We believe that the quality of the experience for all users should be prioritised over the quantity of visitors that we can get to the Forest. Whereas other National Parks may struggle to attract visitors to support the tourism industry, our problem is how to manage the large volume of visitors that we already receive. Our first request therefore is that there is a shift in policy away from the Forest’s Authorities proactively marketing the New Forest as a tourist destination, which includes promoting arranged events/attractions.
  2. We echo the CDA’s concerns with the increasing number of organised events in the Forest and their impact on commoning activities. The difficulties of trying to navigate the Forest roads with a livestock trailer when there is yet another organised cycle event on or being prevented from “drifting” a particular area due to concerns that there is another organised event on or that there are simply too many people, are specific examples of activities which are collectively beginning to reduce the enthusiasm of the next generation of commoners to get involved. Clearly the implications of this do not need to be explained.We suggest that an effort is made to encourage organised events to take place on Private land which is not as environmentally sensitive and where events are not going to provide obstacles to commoning activities.
  3. We are very concerned by the lack of understanding that our visitors (from both nearby and afar) have about the New Forest. We feel there needs to be a greater effort to inform and educate people on the “do and donts” of our “working Forest”. We urge all Forest Authorities to be more proactive in this regard, whether it be at the Forest Campsites, carparks or on various social media platforms.
  4. The enforcement of the Forestry Commission’s bylaws should be a method of last resort, however, we believe that their profile should be raised and their messages promoted. Also, their enforcement must be one of the tools in the toolbox to be deployed in certain circumstances when there is a clear repeated breach due to a lack of respect for the Forest. We believe that there is currently an impression given that there is no will for them to be enforced, surely this is not a healthy impression to give.

Let me be clear, we are not asking to have the Forest to ourselves, we are simply asking for help with mitigating the impacts of a problem, which if not addressed, we believe will see a decline in the enthusiasm of the next generation of commoners to get involved.

Oliver Cook. a practicing Commoner, is Chair of the New Forest Forest Young Commoners Committee. This has been shared with his express permission, and represents the view of the New Forest Young Commoners Group.

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Recreational Harm : Presentment from the Commoners Defence Association

Here we welcome a guest post from Dr Tony Hockley, Chairman of the New Forest Commoners Defence Association, who gave this Presentment in this month’s Verderers Court.

The September court heard several presentments on pressures and abuse of the New Forest. The CDA supports such concerns.

Commoners have long been involved in educational efforts. But education alone will not suffice for companies that see the Forest as a profit opportunity, or for those who care only for their own entertainment.

Enforcement action is a sad necessity. In 2005 the Forestry Commission prosecuted one of the kite-buggy riders using Wilverley Plain*.  That sent a warning to others.  Similar resolve is needed on other routine breaches of the byelaws.

I would highlight two current issues that typify the challenges that can only be resolved by the Forestry Commission:

  • The Ordnance Survey, another public body, has started to facilitate mountain-bike trespass; allowing subscribers to its online mapping service to upload their routes for others to follow. The Forest is now covered with these unlawful routes.
  • On 2nd December the Forest will face its first commercial event in the hours of darkness. It is sponsored by a headtorch company, and hosted by Foxlease. For £30 entrants are offered the thrill of a night-time incursion into Forest. The company says that the racer will have: “a wealth of wildlife to keep your mind occupied”.  **

Both of these are abuses of the Forest that the Forestry Commission could and should stop. It seems that the tranquility of the Forest is being sold to anyone capable of making money from it whilst we all stand by. Our livestock and this special place deserve much better and we would urge to Court to do whatever it can to make this case.

Dr Tony Hockley is a Practicing Commoner and Chairman of the New Forest Commoners Defence Association.  This has been shared with his express permission, and represents the view of the CDA.

* Verderers Court minutes, January 2006 (item 2006/2082).
** This event is promoted by Maverick Race as part of their Silva Dark Series of night time trail running events, Silva is the headtorch sponsor.  http://www.maverick-race.com/races/silva-dark-hampshire-2017

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Saving the Future of the Forest: a Verderers Court Presentment

Here we welcome a guest post from one of our Members, Ian Thew of Burley, who gave this Presentment in this month’s Verderers Court.

Official Verderer, members of the Verderers Court, good morning and thank you for this opportunity to speak to you..My name is Ian Thew and I live deep within a New Forest Inclosure and for many years I have been an active New Forest Sporting Licencee; in consequence of which, I’m probably more aware of what is happening on the Forest than most people.

I am here today to express my fears for the future of this unique place that we call the New Forest. The New Forest National park is the smallest and in many ways the most fragile of all the National parks but contains more special designations protecting fauna and flora than any other. During the past few months, I have witnessed enumerable off-road and night-time cyclists; many, so called, wild campers; overnight camper vans in Forest car parks; several incidents of fly-tipping and on two occasions my wife and I have been subjected to, all night long, heavy base music bouncing across the Forest and, on another occasion, we had to deal with a party of rowdy scouts at 1.30 in the morning. I could go on but I do not wish to waste the time of this court; I am merely trying to demonstrate the enormity and the variety of the abuse that this Forest is being subjected to.

It is obvious, from the overflowing car parks and the masses of gazebos and tents that sprout-up like small villages across the Forest during the summer, that there are just too many visitors for this fragile environment to cope with. At the moment, recreation is taking precedence over conservation and protection of the environment which is in direct contradiction of the Sandford Principle.

There is no doubt that visitors are here to stay and, as one who makes part of his living from tourism, their business is welcome. But, for the sake of the future of the New Forest, their numbers must be limited to a sustainable level and their activities must be restricted to those that do not inflict harm on this very special environment. The ground rules should be clearly apparent to all who come here so that ignorance cannot be used as an excuse by those who offend and, similarly, it should be policed and there should be provision to enable those who are protecting the interests of the Forest to penalize or prosecute those who choose to ignore these rules.

Enforcement of the by-laws on the New Forest Crown Lands is the responsibility of the Forestry Commission who seem to be reluctant to prosecute offenders. Furthermore, we have been told that budgetary restrictions have reduced the numbers of front-line people on the ground. But this cannot be used as an excuse for the ruination of the New Forest and the necessary funds must be made available to enable sufficient policing and prosecution when necessary.

This budgetary shortfall is now common knowledge and I am often rendered speechless and helpless when informed by offending, anarchistic visitors that there is nothing I, or anyone else, can do about them. Surely it’s time that something is done, before it is too late, to stop these people, who are hell bent on destroying that which we all love and cherish and that which the majority of people come here to enjoy.

That his Forest is under threat is obvious to all; so what are we going to tell our grandchildren or our great grandchildren when they ask us why we didn’t do something to save it before it was too late?

I request that the Verderers use the authority of this court to urge the Forestry Commission to police the New Forest and enforce its by-laws and, similarly, to urge the New Forest National Park Authority to exercise their duties in accordance with the Sandford Principle.

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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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