Top Menu

The New Forest could be overgrown within two years

PRESS RELEASE:
The New Forest Association (NFA) believes that the Crown Lands of the New Forest deserves the best management expertise the Government can offer. The delicate balance between commoning, conservation, recreation and commercial forestry is easily disturbed.

We do not believe that a private operator managing these state owned lands would be able to offer sufficient safeguards for the future sustainability of the New Forest. We are not only facing economic recession but also coming to terms with the impact of climate change upon the unique habitats. It is vital that whatever management expertise has been gained over the years and decades is retained for the benefit of the New Forest and the nation.

Loss of the commoners housing stock retained by the Forest Commission could result in major parts of the Forest becoming overgrown and inaccessible to the millions of visitors who come from all over the world.

There are many precedents for the New Forest being made a special case and we believe that this should happen now by allowing the status quo to continue thereby ensure the future viability and health of these internationally important lands.

To this end we would ask those wielding the axe to not take precipitive action, but to take advice and think long and hard before making any decision which could have appalling long term effects on this special place which is so close to the hearts of millions of their constituents

William Ziegler

Chairman

New Forest Association

Notes

The New Forest Association was formed in 1867 to ensure that the Forest was not enclosed and lost to the nation. The resulting New Forest Act of 1877 was the first of a number of occasions when the New Forest had to receive special treatment to survive – Further information about the Association may be found at www.newforestassociation.org

In the light of recent press speculation about a sell off of 50% of Forestry Commission managed lands there needs to be good reason for retaining areas of national and international importance such as the New Forest. This Forest is the last major link with the Royal Forests of William the Conqueror, who introduced special laws to enable its survival as a hunting forest. Changing administrations in the 16th and 19th centuries caused huge unrest because of the upset to the balance between the various forces acting upon the lands. The key to the diversity and unique habits that form the New Forest is the grazing regime and mixture of bogs, woodlands and lowland heath that has evolved for the ponies and cattle to roam over. These animals are owned by commoners whose rights have been jealously protected since before the Norman invasion.

Virtually all commoners are part time small-holders who need to live in close proximity to the Forest with access to a small amount of back-up land. The Forestry Commission has a housing stock in the New Forest some of which is let to commoners and some used by their own officials, a number of whom graze stock themselves.

The New Forest Association (NFA)

The NFA, established in 1867, is one of the oldest conservation organisations in the world. It is an independent charity with over 900 members. Council for National Parks recognises NFA as the New Forest National Park society.

New Chief Executive for the National Park.

At today’s New Forest National Park Authority meeting, the new Chief Executive, Alison Barnes, was announced to the authority members by the current interim Chief Executive, Barrie Foley. “We have finally found someone who I believe is good for the Forest, she is very outward looking and is keen to engage with all parties.”

Clive Chatters, Chair of the NFNPA, said: “I am delighted to welcome Alison as our new Chief Executive. She brings an ideal combination of professional and personal qualities to take us forward.”

Alison is currently a Natural England Regional Director for London as the organisational lead on Landscape, Green Infrastructure, the Olympics and Thames Gateway. She is Chair of Greening the Gateway Partnership and a Commissioner for the Mayor’s London Sustainable Development Commission. Her career has also included roles with English Nature, Dumfries and Galloway Council and the RSPB in Scotland. She was born and bred near Wimborne, and still has family in Wimborne, Christchurch and Hangersley.

Barrie Foley, describing her qualifications for the role focussed on her ability to engage businesses and stakeholders on green infrastructure issues in complex situations:

“Coming from Natural England, of course she’s got the Green credentials, but when she went through the interview process a lot of it was focussed on “is she right for the business going forward, is she right for the community”, …. I thought she was right, as far as I’m concerned, engaging with the people, engaging with the communities, that’s what’s the key thing. Alison has not come from an easy environment, working in the area she works in London.

Fielding a Press question about whether her approach would be right for local business, Alison remarked:

“I absolutely believe that conservation and nature cannot be successful, in this day and age, at all, without bringing everything together with socio-economic issues. To some extent, that’s why those issues come forward, because we haven’t been successful in the past. And for me, it is only going to be successful, if those things can come together, because this isn’t a museum, this is a living working place.

Alison will assume her role from June 1st. Barrie Foley will be on hand to assist her during a month long hand over period.

NFA Nestboxes available

Fix sturdy Nestboxes now for winter roosting. Various types for £5 ea. All proceeds to NFA funds to fight major proposed developments in or around the New Forest.

Phone Graham Baker on 01590 623935 or email brookleyfarmhouse@btinternet.com.

Personalised NFA Christmas Cards

The Christmas Cards shown are available personalised with your address. Cards come in packs of 10 with envelopes at £3.00 delivered; the minimum quantity for personalized cards is 40. The cards measure six inches by four. The photographs are by the late Terry Heathcote and depict the following New Forest Scenes – Binken Wood near Lyndhurst, Foulford Bottom in the north of the Forest and Commoner’s Cattle probably near Brockenhurst.

The detail inside of the card is as follows –

Best Wishes for
Christmas & the New Year

If you would like to order please Email details, including your address as you wish it shown, to brookleyfarmhouse@btinternet.com. Or phone Graham Baker on 01590 623935. Samples are available and all proceeds go to NFA funds.

Posted by Picasa

National Park Management Plan Revised Draft

The National Park Management Plan Revised Draft is available for public feedback from 22 October to 12 November 2009. A downloadable version of the Plan as well as details on how to respond are available via this link:

National Park Management Plan Revised Draft

The current draft will be considered by the members of the New Forest National Park Authority at the authority meeting on the 29th of October 2009, at South Efford House. The members will be asked to approve the revised version of the draft at the subsequent authority meeting on the 10th of December 2009.

The revised Core Strategy will be available on the National Park website from 3 December 2009 and public representations will be invited in January 2010.

New Forest Association Takes Forestry Commission to Task

In today’s September Verderers Court, the NFA took the Forestry Commission to task for ongoing damage to the fabric of the forest and dangerously unsafe debris resulting from timber extraction operations at Islands Thorns enclosure. The NFA called for more sensitive management of the operations, particularly as a very nice job has been done by a different team nearby in the stream restoration at Howen Bottom (more info on stream restoration : Lengthening River Beds) Timber operations in character woodlands on the open forest on the SSSI should be managed to the same standards as other environmental works.

The NFA also asked for further scrutiny of the Forestry Commission’s trial of a new basalt grit based hoggin material as a car park surface at Longslade Bottom, Pig Bush, Turf Hill amongst others. This is part of an ongoing search for more sustainable materials for car park maintenance. Difficulties arise in the current gravel based hoggin which is easily disrupted, but any new material needs to pass muster with Natural England as it can leech into the sensitive soil of the forest and may also impact the wetlands. The NFA are concerned that the basalt may not be as inert as suggested by the Forestry Commission, also the basalt is a darker colour closer to that of tarmac and may negatively impact on the landscape. (see Gritty solution to potholes)

The NFA also commented on the Forestry Commission’s somewhat cynical “consultation” on its plans for the future of the Public Forest Estate in England. The plans include a National plan for fast conifer timber production which would be wholly inappropriate for the New Forest. The Forestry Commission are clearly looking for a mandate nationally, such policies would not work for the New Forest, and would create further unwelcome pressure to our local forestry. The NFA urged the Verderers and all members of the public to respond to the survey with this in mind.

Finally, the NFA joined the New Forest Commoners Defence Association, amongst others, in commenting on the proposed extension to Burley Cricket Club’s pavilion. The NFA asked the Verderers to ensure that any extension to existing facilities should be the minimum size needed to maintain the viability of the cricket club and no larger.

(For the full text of this month’s Presentment look at the first comment below, or click here).

Charity Event to Benefit NFA, Sunday 13th September

The New Forest Association is pleased to learn that Sally Bennetts has organised Live Music Charity Event at The Elm Tree Public House on Sunday 13th September from midday to 10pm in aid of three charities: Macmillan Nurses, Delta and the New Forest Association.

Tickets are £7.00 – kids go free, contact Sally Bennetts.

Forestry Commission Launch Public Forest Estate Consultation

The Forestry Commission of England have launched a consultation on “The Long-term Role of the Forestry Commission Public Forest Estate in England“. This “consultation” takes the form of a 76 page document followed by a survey, much of which includes somewhat loaded questions, and even more slanted multiple choice selections.

In a slightly cynical move, a shorter version of the survey has been issued as a leaflet consisting of one of the questions with multiple choice answers. This can be filled in and sent freepost to the Forestry Commission. Those responding to this oversimplified version are being entered into a prize draw as an incentive.

Whilst the council of The New Forest Association are issuing a joint response to the consultation, they urge the members of the Association to respond to the consultation, keeping in mind that for the New Forest area, the preservation of the nature and heritage of the native broadleaved woodlands and heathland habitats should have greater priority over conifer timber production.

The consultation closes on 28th September 2009.

New Forest National Park Chief Executive To Step Down

At the June meeting of the New Forest National Park Authority, Lindsay Cornish the Chief Executive Officer of the NFNPA has announced her resignation.

In her statement she remarked:

“Over the last four years I have dedicated myself to the development of an organisation which I hope will continue to champion the New Forest long after I have gone.”

Clive Chatters, Chairman of the NFNPA followed up with praise for Lindsay’s achievements including setting up the Authority as “a stable, well run organisation” and her help in securing the Single Farm Payment for the whole of the Forest on behalf of the commoners, as well as getting the planning service up and running for “day one” of the authority.

The NFA are saddened by the nature of her departure, and feel it is particularly unfortunate that her achievements should be overshadowed by recent events.

[Read the full text of the Chief Executive’s Statement here and the Chairman’s Statement here]

Statement by Lindsay Cornish Chief Executive of the New Forest National Park Authority

After deep reflection and discussion with the Chairman it is with considerable sadness that I have decided to leave the Authority.

Over the last four years I have dedicated myself to the development of an organisation which I hope will continue to champion the New Forest long after I have gone. My staff are passionate about the New Forest and its future, dedicated and highly professional and have already achieved much, for example in support the work and role of commoners and in securing significant amounts of external funding to assist local community projects.

As those who are close to me know, it has always been my intention to pass the baton on to a fresh pair of hands once the Authority is fully established. I had hoped that this would coincide with the completion of the first national park management plan, originally scheduled for earlier this year. Now that the Plan has been further delayed, and I would shortly have completed four years in post I have reviewed my position. I also believe that the recent perception of me and my role by some sections of the public, ill-informed and libellous as some of it is, may be damaging the reputation of the entire Authority.

For these, and other personal reasons, I will therefore be leaving the Authority at the end of the month.

I would like to give particular thanks to : the two Chairmen I have worked with and who have given me invaluable support and encouragement; to my staff for the excellent work they do; and to a number of colleagues from key Forest organisations who have been willing to work constructively with the Authority, and to support me personally, notwithstanding our sometimes fundamentally different starting points, to achieve what is best for the Forest.

I will not be making any other statements and would ask for privacy while I remain in post and thereafter.