A new book describing the history of the New Forest Association written by local historian Peter Roberts was launched at the New Forest Centre recently. ‘Saving the New Forest: New Forest Association – The First 150 Years’ does exactly what its title says and explains how a small group of people in the mid-nineteenth century became seriously worried at the steady increases year on year in the enclosure of land in the Forest for timber production, and in 1867 decided in very British fashion to set up an association to rescue it. In 1871 the government placed a Bill before Parliament ‘to disafforest the New Forest’, which would have left just 100 of the 60,000 acres for the Commoners to exercise their rights and for the public to enjoy. The book relates why this happened and how the New Forest Association, only the second conservation society to be set up in Britain, saved the New Forest for the nation. The book continues with the numerous campaigns to combat threats to the Forest over 150 years through to the present day, when the Association has re-branded itself as ‘the Friends of the New Forest’ in order to clarify its 21st century role to the public.
In introducing author Peter Roberts, John Ward who is the Chairman of Friends of the New Forest said:
Peter, who was my predecessor as Chairman and a former Verderer, is well-qualified to write such a book, as he has had a life-long commitment to the well-being of the Forest and has written a number of other books about aspects of it.”
Peter paid tribute to the founders of the Association, saying:
“On the back of my book I quote the late New Forest naturalist Colin Tubbs who said we owe an incalculable debt to those Victorian gentlemen who were adversaries of the Crown in the years before 1877.”
“Is there still a need for a New Forest Association? Well the founders thought not after 1877, at least until the military authorities wanted a range in the New Forest. But when subsequent threats have come, the Association has provided an umbrella organisation of people who cared passionately about the Forest and who were prepared to spend time and effort in protecting it. Undoubtedly the Forest would not exist as we know it today without the founders’ foresight and energy. There is also no doubt there will continue to be threats.”
Copies of the book may be obtained by sending a cheque made payable to the New Forest Association for £12.00 per copy including £2 postage and packing to:
NFA Book, 13 Brook Avenue North, New Milton BH25 5HE.