Close Hollands Wood, Denny Wood and Longbeech Campsites as Natural England Intended
The Friends of the New Forest support a comprehensive review of the campsites on the Crown Lands, their infrastructure and impact on habitat and livestock, and action taken to implement protection of the designated habitats, including the 2001 prescription of Natural England to close three campsites.
Citing fundamental incompatibility within close proximity of veteran trees[i], Natural England’s SAC Management Plan for the New Forest 2001 gave “Unfavourable Declining” condition assessments to Hollands Wood, Denny Wood and Longbeech due to the presence and management of the campsites, calling for their removal or relocation as an immediate high priority [ii].
We are at present expanding our recent consideration of evidence on recreation impact [iii] , to focus on campsite impacts and develop a spatial model of proximity of the sites to key species and SPA features. For now it is worth noting:
- Around 20% of the campsites in the National Park are on land covered by the primary conservation designations (i.e. SAC, SPA, SSSI, Ramsar)[iv].
- Some campsites are in such close proximity to protected nesting bird habitats, that if they were merely car parks, they would be closed from March to August under current Forestry England policy.
- Our 2010 Campsite Survey[v] showed the campsites in pasture woodlands, (those identified for closure in the 2001 SAC Plan), have less than half the canopy they ought.
- Unwelcome, invasive plant species have been recorded at campsites throughout the UK and the New Forest in particular. [vi]
We are gathering further evidence and will report by this Autumn.
We ask that the Verderers use their position as a key partner in the National Park’s new Partnership Plan, whose draft lacks any meaningful initiatives to address the impacts of campsites [vii], and abandons previous aspirations [viii].
The Partnership Plan provides an opportunity, not just to assess the campsites on the Forest, but also for the National Park Authority with New Forest District Council to more comprehensively track, manage and establish standards for temporary campsite provision as granted under Permitted Development Rights. The growth of the pop-up / temporary campsites, and other facilities off the Crown Lands may have already provided or exceeded provision necessary to replace the capacity which would be lost from possible closures. With consistent standards for mitigation and sustainability, off Forest campsites would directly benefit the rural economy and commoning, as well as disperse tourist spending throughout the district.
For many years it has been known that some campsites are incompatible with the habitats they occupy. In addition, the CDA and Verderers now believe that camping on the Crown Lands is incompatible with livestock. It is possible to meet the desire of visitors to camp and enjoy the Forest without causing harm to its valuable habitats and commoning way of life. We ask everyone who cares for the Forest to join us in demanding action from Forestry England, and both the New Forest National Park and District Council to bring this about.
|This Presentment follows on the heels of other calls made by the Verderers and the Commoners Defence Association to review the Campsites on the Crown Lands.
It should be noted that these are only roughly a fifth of the campsites in the New Forest area. They are of concern as they are directly on protected habitats on public lands where commoners livestock freely roam and graze. When they were established in the 1960’s there was less understanding of the impacts on habitat from recreation. This outdated infrastructure urgently needs reevaluation as we face the catastrophic declines in species and effects of climate change.
Click Background Notes for the references made throughout this Presentment. The article also expands some of the points. We will be giving further coverage of this debate in the coming weeks, as well as reviewing the broader implications of Natural England’s 2010 SAC Management plan on the Campsites.