New Forest Background - Commoners

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The key element for the survival of these communities is the persistence of a pastoral economy based on the exercise of common rights of grazing and mast (the rights to turn out pigs in the autumn for seeds), which inhibits natural succession to uniform Forest. This pastoral economy in turn depends on the continued existence of a community of farmers and small holders which comprise a unique social unit. The Forest thus contains an exceptional combination of natural and cultural elements rarely surviving elsewhere in lowland Europe.

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