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The Power of the Press?

A Saturday article in the Daily Telegraph extolling walking in the New Forest and suggesting some Forest honeypots to visit, school half term, a dry, if not sunny, Sunday in October. Which of these was the dominant factor is hard to say but dry days and half term come around fairly regularly in the New Forest without always causing quite so much chaos and harm.

On Sunday, yesterday, I cycled through part of the New Forest, from Lyndhurst via Emery Down to the Bolderwood car park, returning along the Bolderwood and Rhinefield Ornamental Drives to Brockenhurst.

I had hoped to cycle gently along enjoying the Forest landscape in early Autumn colour, perhaps seeing a few pigs on the way – but it was not a happy experience.

All the way along the road from Emery Down there were sporadic groups of a few cars or individual vehicles pulled off the road to park on the Forest beside the road. There were also concentrations of on-Forest parking at Whitemore, the Portuguese fireplace and Millyford Bridge, even though the nearby car park did not seem to be full. I commented on this to my companion because this extent of on-Forest parking is not something we are used to seeing on this road.

At Bolderwood car park itself it was not surprising to find it full, but there was extensive overflow on-Forest parking along the roadside beside the car park and adjoining lawn.

Turning left into the Ornamental Drive was difficult because a camper van was parked on the junction itself followed by an unrelieved string of cars parked on the Forest beside the road from there until the cattlegrid, both damaging the Forest and substantially blocking the road.

From the cattlegrid beside the car park entrance on there were only a few cars pulled off the road, but some determined motorists unable to park alongside the road had turned off and driven into the Forest to park their cars.

Cars had overflowed the Knightwood Oak car park and were parked on the Forest beside the road. After crossing the A35, unfortunately things became even worse. Blackwater car park was a scene of chaotic congestion. The car park was full and cars had been parked on the Forest beside the road nose to tail with no gaps for several 100 yards. I got off my bicycle and walked, but because the parked cars effectively reduced the highway enough to prevent oncoming cars passing each other these motorists were driving off the road to pass and in so doing were destroying a one to two yard strip of the New Forest opposite the parked cars, churning it into a muddy mess.

At none of these spots could I see any sign of a Forestry England or National Park Ranger. They might have been there, but out of my sight, and given their limited resources perhaps to be expected on a Sunday.

There was not a lot of tranquillity, landscape beauty or wildlife, and for me not much ‘well-being’ either – but maybe it was my own fault for venturing near to New Forest honeypot sites on a Sunday.

Is there anything to be done, or are selected areas of the Forest to be written off as visitor concentration areas? When some essential highway works are carried out (such as those currently proposed at Ipley cross roads) there is, quite rightly, an expectation that land lost to the Forest will be compensated by other land being thrown open to the Forest. But there is no redress or compensation for the damage done to the Forest by visitors, particularly with their motor vehicles.

Certainly, the one thing that is clear is that whatever amount ‘information’, and ‘education’ is produced it will always be overwhelmed by the power of some burst of “Go to the New Forest’ publicity in the national media.

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Rereation Management and the Special Qualities of the New Forest

Life in the Forest been very much a year of two different halves with Covid19. Initially with Lockdown in force the Forest was unusually quiet and undisturbed, with breeding wildlife enjoying a less disturbed existence than usual.

But then Lockdown restrictions were relaxed and suddenly the Forest was hit with an unprecedented deluge of uncontrolled and seemingly unstoppable recreation activity.

Local fire fighters, police, conservationists, rangers and commoners were among those who reported repeated incidents of unacceptable behaviour by some visitors who ignored the measures in place to protect the fragile habitats of the area. Cars were found parked irresponsibly, blocking gateways that are used by the emergency services, park rangers, and commoners accessing their livestock. Grass verges that have international conservation designations upon them were driven over or used for parking. Visitors were found wild camping, lighting fires or using disposable barbeques, and some of the New Forest’s most important ponds for wildlife were used for swimming, kayaking and even paddle boarding.

We feared that this might be a glimpse of things to come as the Forest becomes ever more closely encircled by a growing urban population. Our Council met to discuss a whole range of recreation management issues and this week we have published a report that aims to remind decision-makers about the Special Qualities of the New Forest and the urgent need to protect them from the effects of recreational activity. The Special Qualities considered in the report include habitats and species of international importance within designated wildlife sites.

The authors of the report, FoNF Council members, Clive Chatters and Russell Wynn, have stated that while there is sufficient information available to the authorities to identify the key issues arising from recreational use, there are significant gaps that need to be filled for future recreational strategies, plans and projects to be effective. The report recommends that a long-term monitoring process be adopted to ensure that recreational policies are evidence-based and flexible to future change.

We are concerned that, to date, the increase of recreational use arising from nearby urban growth has been assessed as a broad overview, rather than taking into account the impact on the Forest’s individual Special Qualities – these include ground-nesting birds and fragile wetland, heathland and ancient woodland habitats.

It is intended that this contribution to the debate will assist in the development of an appropriate recreational management strategy for the New Forest, supported and implemented by Forestry England and the New Forest National Park Authority.

We have offered the support of Friends of the New Forest with future monitoring that underpins this strategy. 

You may read or download the report from the link below:

A CONTRIBUTION TO UNDERSTANDING THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE RECREATIONAL USE OF THE NEW FOREST WITH ITS SPECIAL QUALITIES

Eyeworth Pond
Parking on the Forest to picnic
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Proposed tree felling at Slap Bottom Burley

Statement Issued 20th December 2019

The Association’s attention has been drawn to concerns raised about proposed tree felling within the New Forest at Slap Bottom, Burley. We note comments made by objectors, the intervention of local MP, Sir Desmond Swayne and recent press reports. Some objectors have sought our support.

As Forestry England know well, we are the first to object to any of their proposals for forest operations that we consider not to be in the best interests of the long-term protection of the New Forest. In making these judgements we take the best scientific advice available regarding the implications, overall effects and likely long-term consequences for the New Forest.

In this case we have visited the site and reviewed the proposal together with the necessary consents obtained by Forestry England. These include the Felling License application with associated maps, the habitat restoration purpose of the works, proper consideration under any appropriate assessment requirements of Regulation 63 of the Habitats Regulations, and the views of Natural England that the whole proposal, as submitted, is directly connected to or necessary for the management of this European Site for the interest features for which The New Forest Special Area of Conservation, New Forest Special Protection Area, New Forest RAMSAR Site has been designated. 

In conclusion this proposal is one that is fully supported by the Friends of the New Forest as a well-considered and moderate proposal to restore habitats without harmful landscape impacts.

In a relatively small area an invasive exotic tree, Scots Pine, is being removed from valuable open wetland habitat, which is being damaged by their shade. However, retention of evergreens, both Scots Pine and Holly, is proposed for the neighbouring properties. This is not a large-scale felling but a necessary one to restore degraded habitat, which is internationally threatened and in itself makes a valuable contribution to carbon fixing. The scheme is already a compromise and has been modified to retain a landscape screen for the neighbours.

One of the stated reasons for objection that has been widely circulated by objectors concerns the loss of trees at a time of Climate Crisis, when trees should be planted not felled. The general view that trees are an important part of carbon capture is to be lauded, but in this case it is simplistic and misguided, based on not understanding the interaction of different types and ages of trees and other habitats to maximise opportunities for carbon fixing.

So far as the Climate Change Crisis is concerned, science tells us that removing trees from organic-rich soils will enhance the capacity of that landscape to absorb carbon. If that tree removal is accompanied by wetland restoration then that capacity is further enhanced. More carbon is held in organic-rich soils than in standing trees. In addition, the world (and the New Forest) is facing a Biodiversity Crisis with species extinction, and the Forest’s bogs and heaths have an international importance for wildlife that depends on them being kept free from invasive species such as Scots Pine.

The proposed works will both improve the habitat and prevent the drying out of wetland, so increasing the retention of stored carbon with an overall gain in terms of carbon capture.

www.friendsofthenewforest.org www.facebook.com/NewForestAssociation Registered Charity No: 260328           Hon Secretary: Tara Dempsey secretary@friendsofthenewforest.org Chair: John Ward chair@friendsofthenewforest.org
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Grazing Levels: CDA Presentment to May 2018 Verderers Court

This Presentment was given by New Forest Commoners Defence Association Chair Tony Hockley. We share it here as a guest post with his kind permission.

I would like to make a presentment on grazing levels.

The CDA warmly welcomes the initiative taken by the Official Verderer and Deputy Surveyor to write to all those on the marking register to encourage individual responsibility for stock numbers.

I have also written to CDA members, on behalf of our committee, emphasising the importance that the Association attaches to personal responsibility on stocking decisions; so that grazing continues to deliver the high levels of environmental benefits for which the Forest is renowned, and to protect the welfare of all commoners’ stock. It is imperative that the reputation of commoning is not put at risk by the actions of a tiny minority. Mutual responsibility is the lifeblood of commoning: The CDA’s own rules require that no member acts in ways that prejudice the interests of all commoners.

We look forward to the day when, after Brexit, the financial support that commoning so desperately needs is tailored to the Forest; locally-designed and locally-led; building on the best of the Verderers Grazing Scheme. The Brexit transition, however, looks set to last several years at least. During these years, before a new scheme can be put in place, we must all do our utmost to ensure that the EU-designed Basic Payments Scheme works to the benefit of the Forest, whilst we plan for a bespoke scheme for the future.

The CDA, therefore, asks the Court to take the following three steps:

– Firstly, as soon as possible, to reconvene the Verderers Grazing Scheme Advisory Group, which last met in 2014.
– Secondly, to develop and share improved data on depastured stock numbers
– Thirdly, to be seen, alongside the Forestry Commission and National Trust, to act on the byelaws, HLS conditions, and other legal tools at their disposal to protect the common grazing.

Tony Hockley 16 May 2018

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CDA Letter to Members Relating to Localised Excessive Poaching

This letter was written by New Forest Commoners Defence Association Chair Tony Hockley to CDA members, following concerns during the wet winter of 2017-2018.

Dear Member

You should by now have received letters from the Official Verderer and Deputy Surveyor relating to localised excessive poaching. The CDA welcomes these interventions. Commoning rests on the principle that we share a responsibility to exercise our rights in ways that are mutually beneficial.

The CDA is working hard to ensure that we have a system of financial support after Brexit that It is locally designed and locally led, unlike the BPS. For the next few years, however, we must work within the existing system. We must demonstrate that the New Forest is up to the task of leading a future bespoke scheme and to take full responsibility for its implementation.

It is clear that the vast majority of commoners take these responsibilities to each other and to the Forest very seriously indeed. We cannot, therefore, allow the actions of a very small number to destroy what we are achieving and what we hope to achieve in the future (In the short term we also face the risk of removal of approval for cattle feeding areas on the Open Forest). The letters from the Official Verderer and the Deputy Surveyor set out some of the powers that can be used by them to ensure good grazing practice. Our own CDA Rule 33 states that: “The committee may suspend or terminate the membership of any member who is deemed to have acted in a way which is prejudicial to the interests of the commoners or the Association”. Wilful and unnecessary damage to the grazing would be prejudicial to all of our interests.

The CDA will be calling on the Verderers to use their powers to support good grazing practice and compliance with existing regulations. We will also be asking for the Verderers Grazing Scheme Advisory Group to be convened to discuss the general topic of grazing levels and policies.

Our partnership work on a future support scheme for the New Forest is generating significant goodwill for commoning. i am very confident that if we continue to demonstrate the best of commoning over the next two or three years, based on our genuine concern for the Forest, we will be able to achieve a sustainable and lasting solution.

Yours faithfully

Tony Hockley

Chairman

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WANTED – Help to run this important New Forest charity

We value the special qualities of the Forest and seek to promote and protect them as the only all-inclusive organisation promoting its well-being. We campaign against threats and embrace change for the better and seek to make it happen. Our key activists are enthusiastic and committed.

We are hoping to recruit a number of new people to help to make this happen, so you would be part of a small re-energising renaissance, working with an enthusiastic and committed Chairman and Vice Chairman.

HONORARY SECRETARY

Our Honorary Secretary stepped down at our AGM on 21st April. An organisation without an Honorary Secretary is very much a ship without a rudder. This is not where we want to be. With important issues facing the New Forest we need to be going forward and campaigning in an organised and effective fashion.

If you want to make a huge difference to an important charity, this is the role for you.

Copy of job description is HERE

EVENTS PLANNER

During our 150th anniversary year in 2017 we ran a series of member events through the year. These were greatly appreciated and we would like to continue to offer enjoyable and informative New Forest events.

The Events Planner would work with trustees and members of our Council to generate ideas and contacts for an events programme.

More information is HERE

EVENTS ADMINISTRATOR

There is a need for someone to monitor our online events booking system and liaise with the event leader and those who have booked a place.

More information is HERE

PLANNING and TRANSPORT COMMITTEE MEMBER

We are seeking to strengthen our Planning and Transport Committee with additional members who are interested in the issues and potential impacts on the New Forest of planning policies and planning applications.

More information is HERE

INTERESTED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT ANY OF THESE ROLES?

Phone or email
John Ward 01590 671205 chair@friendsofthenewforest.org
or
Gale Gould 01725 518410 vicechair@friendsofthenewforest.org

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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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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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NFA lead five walks as part of the New Forest National Park Authority’s 2015 Walking Festival

The NFA will lead the following walks as part of the NPA’s third walking festival:

Monday 19th October – Rights of Common
Tuesday 20th October – Boats, Trains and Buses
Friday 23rd October – Solent 50 birds
Wednesday 28th October – Pylewell Estate
Friday 30th October – Avon Valley Villages

Details will appear on http://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/info/20175/walking_festival and on this site shortly.