The New Forest - Introduction

The New Forest is one of the largest areas of unenclosed land remaining in the south of Britain. It lies in the south-west of Hampshire, touching the shores of the Solent and Southampton Water with a total area of 144 square miles. The majority is still in Crownownership and is available for the access and enjoyment of the public.

Lord Wardens were first appointed by King Canute to preserve the forest for the hunting of deer primarily. After four centuries this form of management was superseded by management for timber production,notably oaks for naval timber during the 17th and 18th centuries. Trees escaping this episode are still thriving today in the Forest. Forestry is now the main enterprise of the Forest and is administered by the Forestry Commission.

Local inhabitants were granted various common rights on the Crown Land and were known as Commoners and still have rights to graze cattle,ponies and pigs within the forest. Their rights are decided by the ancient Verderer's Court.

The New Forest today remains one of the most fascinating forests in Europe with great potentials for research into ecological systems which have not been disturbed for many hundreds of years.

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