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The distinctive and special qualities of the open forest landscape are intrinsically bound to policies and practices for forestry, habitat protection and restoration and commoning. In recent years the Forestry Commission has begun to take a more long‐term strategic approach to Inclosures through Forest Design Plans. Historically villages and much of the enclosed countryside were strongly related to the open forest through commoning. Settlements formed an important part of the overall New Forest landscape with scattered traditional houses, fragmented villages and paddocks.

In the past 50 years, with increased rates of development and redevelopment and demand for land for recreational or other nonagricultural uses, there has been a steady but insidious loss of the rural quality of the New Forest as a whole. Many of the changes are small‐scale in themselves but cumulatively there has been a general suburbanisation of the Forest. Gaps in villages have been filled in with the loss of run‐back land; small cottages have been extended or replaced; and trees and hedgerows have been removed. Dark skies have been reduced by the increased glow of nearby conurbations and within the Forest street lights, security lights, floodlighting and illuminated advertising has proliferated. Noise levels are higher and penetrate further into the Forest as traffic volumes and aircraft flights have risen. These visual and aural changes taken together with increased recreational activity have significantly reduced the extent of tranquillity pervading the landscape. It has become increasingly difficult to escape into the Forest and enjoy a feeling of remoteness in a place set apart from the nearby extensive, busy, noisy and built up south of England.

We support:

  • Traditional management of meadows, hedgerows and woodlands.
  • Protecting the remaining most tranquil and remote areas of the Forest and seeking to extend them.
  • De‐cluttering the landscape by removing signs wherever possible.
  • Replacing flat highway signs by traditional finger posts.
  • Reducing unnecessary lighting, including street lighting, illuminated signs and floodlighting.
  • Removal or undergrounding of power lines.
  • Measures to mitigate effects of sea level rise and retain the treefringed landscape of the northwest Solent Shore viewed from the sea.

We oppose:

  • Suburbanisation of properties through, for example, hard surfacing, loss of hedges to close boarded fencing and the loss or degradation of grazed verges.
  • Subdivision of pasture land into small paddocks with visually intrusive fencing or buildings.
  • Piecemeal encroachment of open forest land.

We will identify unsightly infrastructure, wire‐scapes and signs and will seek their removal, replacement with a more sympathetic design, or relocation as appropriate. We will press for the wider use of road surfaces that reduce traffic noise.

More about the Habitat and Landscape Committee HERE

Publicly available comments made by the Habitat and Landscape Committee are available HERE.