The New Forest
Maintaining the Ancient and Ornamental Woodlands of the New Forest
George Peterken, Jonathan W Spencer, Alison B Field
A STRATEGY FOR THE NEW FOREST
Full Working Document
Adopted by the NEW FOREST COMMITTEE
6th February, 1996
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
- OUR VISION
- 1.1. Background to the Strategy
- 1.2. The Resource
- 1.3. Our Aims
- 1.4. The Policy Framework
CHAPTER 2: WORKING TOGETHER
- 2.1. The better co-ordination of policy and action
- 2.2. Using the Management Strategy as a basis to bid for funds for important project work
- 2.3. Working with private landowners and other bodies such as voluntary groups, private sector and other interested individuals
CHAPTER 3: CONSERVING THE FOREST
- 3.1. Introduction
- 3.2. The New Forest Landscape
- 3.3. Nature Conservation
- 3.4. The Built Environment
- 3.5. History and Archaeology
- 3.6. Woodlands
- 3.7. Lowland Heathland
- 3.8. Rivers and Wetlands
- 3.9. Acid Grasslands and Meadows
- 3.10. Coastal Areas
- 3.11. Hedgerows
- 3.12. Species Conservation
- 3.13. Environmental Quality
- 3.14. Land Management
CHAPTER 4: LIVING IN THE FOREST
- 4.1. Commoning
- 4.2. Farming
- 4.3. Forestry and Woodland Management
- 4.4. The Forest Community
- 4.5. The Tourism Industry
- 4.6. National and Regional Demands
CHAPTER 5: ENJOYING THE FOREST
- 5.1. The Pattern of Recreation
- 5.2. Passive Recreation
- 5.3. Active Recreation
- 5.4. The Honeypots
- 5.5. Remote Areas
- 5.6. Alternative Attractions
- 5.7. Improving Local Recreation Opportunities
- 5.8. A Framework for Recreation
- 5.9. Pricing as a Management Tool
- 5.10. Information and Education
- 5.11. Traffic, Transport and Access - Introduction
- 5.12 Transport Issues
- 5.13. Through Traffic
- 5.14. Inter-Urban Roads
- 5.15. The Minor Road System
- 5.16. Car Parking
- 5.17. Public Transport
- 5.18. Cycling
- 5.19. A Framework for Transportation
CHAPTER 6: IMPLEMENTING THE STRATEGY
CHAPTER 7: REFERENCES
Map 1: New Forest Heritage Area
Map 2: Landscape Types
Map 3: Landscape and Nature Conservation Designations
Map 4: Framework for Recreation
Map 5: Transportation Factors
Table 1: Landscape, Archaeological and Nature Conservation Designations
New Forest Committee 4 High Street Lyndhurst Hampshire S04 1PD
Tel (01703) 284144 Fax(01703)2839834
Our Vision of the New Forest is of a naturally beautiful and dynamic rural area, where internationally and nationally important habitats, and ancient and diverse landscapes, change inevitably and subtly but without degradation. It is an area where these landscapes and habitats are supported by all the actions of a thriving community.
It is a vision of a healthy and prosperous communing community, whose animals maintain and shape the distinctive Forest core of woodland, heath and mire set in a matrix of forest, villages, estates and farmland. It is a place where there is emphasis on the creation of a stable rural economy offering Forest generated employment. A community which accommodates the essential needs of its residents in harmony with the environment. It is a place, free from pollution, set apart from the development and industrialisation of densely populated urban areas in the region.
It is a vision where the local and visiting population continue togain pleasure and inspiration from the Forest without detriment tosoils, vegetation and wildlife.
A place where tourism operates to thebenefit of the local community in a sustainable way. It is an area inwhich the motor vehicle does not dominate and where there are viablealternatives to travel by car.
It is a vision of a countryside managed with care and concern for future generations. We all have a role in conserving the Forest and must take the opportunity to turn words into action.
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
1.1. Background to the Strategy
1.1.1. A Strategy for the New Forest follows a wealth of reports and studies about the New Forest and builds on them to create a framework into which policies and action plans can be built.
1.1.2. The Strategy is the work of the New Forest Committee, formed toconsider the needs of the New Forest Heritage Area following thedetailed New Forest Review of 1989. The Committee represents theprincipal Central and Local Government organisations in the Forest:
1.1.3. Between them the contributing members of the New Forest Committee have nearly all the powers and responsibilities which are to be found in the managing agencies of other nationally important protected landscapes and a great many other duties as well. By working together, through the New Forest Committee, the members ensure that these powers are used to best affect, with a common purpose giving strength to policies and direction.
- Countryside Commission
- English Nature
- Forestry Commission
- Hampshire County Council
- New Forest District Council
- Verderers of the New Forest
- Salisbury District Council
- Test Valley Borough Council
- Wiltshire County Council (as Observers)
- Country Landowners' Association
- National Farmers' Union (as Observers)
1.1.4 A Strategy for the New Forest outlines a strategic framework to ensure the New Forest remains a special area. It presents a New Forest view which has no affiliation to any particular member agency, only a desire to achieve what is best for the Forest.
1.2. The Resource
1.2.1. A Strategy for the New Forest covers the whole of the New Forest Heritage Area, as identified in Map 1
1.2.2. For the purposes of this Strategy, the New Forest Heritage Area will be referred to as the 'New Forest' or shortened to the 'Forest'. The land owned by the Crown and managed by the Forestry Commission will be referred to as the 'Crown Land'. The common land within the Perambulation will be referred to as the 'Open Forest', this includes the Crown Land and the commons adjacent to the Crown land, which are in a variety of ownerships (National Trust, Local Authority, Private). Privately owned and fenced lands will be referred to as the 'enclosed lands'
1.3. Our Aims
1.3.1. All of the organisations represented on the New Forest Committee have committed themselves to work together to promote the conservation of the traditional character of the New Forest. The principal aims of the Strategy are..-
To promote the conservation of the New Forest through the effective co-ordination of policy and action. [PA1]1.3.2. In carrying out these aims the New Forest Committee will have regard to all the unique features of the New Forest and to:-
To maintain and enhance the traditional character of the New Forest landscape and the diversity and distribution of the habitats and wildlife within it. [PA2]
To ensure that the social and economic needs of the New Forest community are met in a manner which is compatible with the traditional character of the New Forest [PA3]
To ensure the use of the New Forest for tourism and recreation does not prejudice the quality of its traditional character or the pursuit of quiet enjoyment. [PA4]
The international importance of the nature conservation features of the New Forest.
The national importance of the New Forest as an area of exceptional natural beauty which affords considerable opportunities for open-air recreation.
The needs of the rural community - with particular emphasis on the maintenance of the common grazing and the economic and social well-being of all those who live and work in the area.
The Sandford Principle - which states that in cases of irreconcilable conflict,conservation must have priority.
1.4. The Policy Framework
The Government Statement on the New Forest
1.4.1. In July 1994, the Government released a statement on the future of the New Forest which recognised the New Forest as a unique area and gave it the same planning protection as Britain's National Parks. This means that the New Forest will be identified alongside the National Parks and the Broads Authority in Government planning policy relating to National Parks.
1.4.2. Government guidance for National Parks is given in a number of Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPG's). PPG7, The Countryside and Rural Economy, advises that the conservation of the natural beauty of the countryside should be given high priority in planning policies and development control decisions in National Parks and that consideration should be given to the economic and social well-being of the area. Major development should not take place except in exceptional cases.
1.4.3. The 1995 Environment Act revised the purposes of National Parks. These are now the conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage and promoting opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of those areas by the public'. The second purpose no longer refers explicitly to the need for the Parks to be places for quiet enjoyment and understanding. The New Forest Committee believes the term 'quiet enjoyment' sums up the relationship that must exist between recreation and conservation in the New Forest and this term is adopted throughout the text.
The Rural White Paper
1.4.4. The Government White Paper "Rural England - A Nation committed to a Living Countryside", provides a national perspective on the importance of maintaining a living and working countryside. The countryside is seen as a national asset where development is sustainable, meeting current needs but without compromising the choices of future generations. The paper recognises the importance of maintaining the diversity of the countryside and retaining local distinctiveness. The quality of countryside is seen to be dependant on a thriving rural economy which respects the needs of the environment. The benefits and problems of living in the countryside are acknowledged, as is the need for improved access to services. The importance of access to the countryside for all is recognised and positive management is seen as a way of overcoming conflicts between recreation and conservation.
1.4.5. The paper emphasises the importance of dialogue to resolve conflict and stresses the need for sound information on which to base decisions. It encourages local initiative and voluntary action and the increasing involvement of local people in all aspects of decision making.
The International and European Framework
1.4.6. Several international conventions arising from the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, to which the United Kingdom is a signatory, have implications for the management of the natural resources of the New Forest. These include the "Convention on Biodiversity", which aims to conserve and enhance biological diversity, the "Convention on Sustainable Forestry" which sets out standards for the management of forests and "Agenda 21", which sets out a framework of objectives and activities for global environmental protection and sustainable development necessary for the 21st Century. These conventions recognised that human activity must value the quality of our natural resources if we are to maintain a quality environment for future generations. This general principle should underpin the strategic management of the New Forest.
1.4.7. There are also numerous European policy agreements and directives relating to land management which have considerable influence at local level e.g. Common Agricultural Policy, and will need to be monitored.
The Local Context
1.4.8. It is essential that there is a close relationship between A Strategy for the New Forest, Local Authority development plans and programmes and the wide range of plans, both statutory and non-statutory, prepared by other organisations.
1.4.9. The Hampshire County Structure Plan, and to a limited extent the Wiltshire Structure Plan give the strategic planning framework for planning policy in the New Forest. Statutory Local Plans prepared by New Forest District Council (which covers 90% of the area),Test Valley Borough Council and Salisbury District Council provide more detailed planning policies. All three Councils have worked together to ensure consistency between their Local Plan policies for the New Forest.
1.4.10. National agencies such as the Forestry Commission, English Nature, Countryside Commission and the National Rivers Authority also produce their own policy statements at national and local level. It is important that the Strategy for the New Forest reflects the general principles of these national plans. At local level site specific management plans should be implemented within the framework of the Strategy.
1.4.11. The New Forest is covered by several Acts of Parliament known as the New Forest Acts. These Acts direct the Verderers and Forestry Commission management of common land within the perambulation and have provided for the creation of timber inclosure over the past 300 years. The Crown lands of the Forest are also covered by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's Mandate which provides the framework for the management of the Crown lands by the Forestry Commission.
CHAPTER 2 WORKING TOGETHER
Appended image: 'Our aim is to promote the conservation of the New Forest through the effective co-ordination of policy and action'
2.1. The better co-ordination of policy and action.
2.1.1. The New Forest Committee's role is to encourage and co-ordinate policies and actions that will conserve and enhance the traditional character of the New Forest. A Strategy for the New Forest provides a long term framework within which this can take place. The Strategy depends on member organisations remaining responsible for their statutory areas of work but recognises that co-ordinating activities offers members a number of benefits:
Greater awareness of other partners work programmes and priorities.Strategic Objective To ensure the effective co-ordination of strategic decision making by member organisations. [S02.li]
Member organisations can capitalise on joint initiatives.
Overlap between responsibilities is reduced. Best use is made of scarce resources, both financial and staff.
Harmonisation of County and District planning policies covering the New Forest.
Committee members can consider the whole of the New Forest area when making strategic decisions, so that pressures are directed to those areas most able to accommodate them.
Strategic Objective To make optimum use of available resources. [S02.1 ii]
2.2. Using the Management Strategy as a basis to bid for funds for important project work.
2.2.1. Member organisations will continue to finance their mainstream actions in the Forest within their existing budgetary processes. The New Forest Committee receives no direct Government funding, but may recommend action which is beyond the current remit of member bodies. In these circumstances it will be necessary to seek special funding from Government and other sources.
2.2.2. The New Forest is disadvantaged, when compared to other special areas, in that it receives no extra funding from central Government to finance the work required to keep it special. A Strategy for the New Forest provides a means to attract and bid for additional funding at national and European level and also target existing schemes such as Countryside Stewardship.
2.2.3. The Strategy will be submitted to Government departments which have an interest in matters affecting the Forest, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and the Department of the Environment (DoE). The New Forest Committee seeks support from Government to secure the success of the Strategy
Strategic Objective TO attract national and European funding in support of the strategic management of the Forest. [S02.2], see also RA3.3c, RA3.14c and RA4.1 d.1 3
2.3. Working with private landowners and other bodies such as voluntary groups, private sector and other interested individuals.
2.3.1. A Strategy for the New Forest is not just an action plan for the organisations of the New Forest Committee. It is a framework for achieving our vision for the New Forest by working in partnership with other interested bodies or individuals both within and outside the Forest.
2.3.2. The New Forest Committee will work with Government organisations and will seek to ensure that the New Forest capitalises on national initiatives and has a voice at national level to ensure that countrywide policies recognise the special nature of the New Forest. Close working with similar national organisations, such as the National Parks, will also allow the Committee to draw on wider expertise and in turn inform these organisations on successful initiatives carried out in the New Forest. The Committee can also take the opportunity to exploit any potential for joint funding.
2.3.3. Over half of the New Forest is managed by private land owners and their assistance and involvement in developing and implementing management plans is essential. The New Forest Committee will rely strongly on these land managers and will take steps to ensure that a mutually beneficial relationship is maintained.
2.3.4. The specialist local knowledge and experience of Non-Government bodies such as The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and other voluntary groups has been, and will continue to be, very important. Apart from valuable technical advice, some of these organisations, such as the Hampshire Wildlife Trust, are landowners in their own right and manage considerable areas of the New Forest for nature conservation.
2.3.5. Equally important is the wealth of locally based knowledge which exists within the community and is perhaps most readily accessible through Town and Parish Councils. All Parish Councils within the New Forest are represented on the New Forest Consultative Panel which acts as a sounding board for local public opinion. The New Forest Consultative Panel provides an excellent forum for working with a range of specialist bodies as its representation spans amenity, conservation, recreation and sporting interests - both statutory and voluntary.
2.3.6. The New Forest Committee firmly believes that involvement of these organisations and the local community will be invaluable in helping to implement the Strategy.
Strategic Objective To work in partnership with Government, the local community, landowners, interested bodies and individuals. [S02.3]
CHAPTER 3 CONSERVING THE FOREST
Appended image: 'Our aim is to maintain and enhance the traditional character of the New Forest landscape and the diversity and distribution of the habitats and wildlife within it.
3.1.1. The New Forest sits on sedimentary rocks of mainly sands and clays laid down in the Tertiary period. Subsequent earth movements tilted the layers of rocks to expose older deposits to the north and younger layers to the south. During the Ice Age the land was again re-shaped to form a series of huge terraces, stepping downwards from the north- west to the shore of the Solent. At the end of the Ice Age a capping of gravel or brickearth was deposited over parts of the area. The geology and landform have influenced the soils that we find today. Soils to the north sit on the oldest rocks and are very poor and acidic. The central area is covered by more recent deposits which give rise to deeper soils, well suited to growing trees. To the south are found the youngest rocks on flatter land supporting a wide variety of deeper soils. Throughout the Forest, peat has accumulated in hollows and wide flat valleys, providing ideal conditions for bog vegetation. Pollen analysis shows that following the last Ice Age the area was first colonised by birch and pine trees, and later by oak, alder, hazel, elm and lime as temperatures rose. The heathland and forest of the Crown Lands may appear to be natural landscapes, but have been and continue to be influenced by human activity.
3.1.2. The area persisted as a heathland and scrubby waste known as 'Ytene', until William the Conqueror claimed the area as a Royal Forest in about 1079. He re-named the area 'Nova Foresta'or New Forest. The New Forest was just one of eleven Royal Forests found in Hampshire in the Middle Ages. The creation of a Royal Forest brought with it the introduction of Forest Law, designed to protect both the deer and the woodland from destruction. With Forest Law came a hierarchy of Forest officials, many of whom acquired estates in the Forest. About this time there were also a number of grants of land made to monastic houses.
3.1.3. As hunting became less important, the penalties associated with Forest Law diminished. At the same time the local people exploited the unenclosed land for pasture and fuel and by the mid-16th Century legal 'Rights of Common' had been established. By 1670 there were over 300 claims to Forest Rights, including single registrations by large landowners on behalf of their tenants.
3.1.4. In 1698 the demands of the Royal Navy resurrected interest in the timber potential of the New Forest and 2,000 acres were fenced against browsing animals, or 'inclosed'. Ships were built at Bucklers Hard near Beaulieu between 1696 and 1847, including the 'Agamemnon' - Nelson's favourite ship. Further inclosure finally led to the New Forest Act of 1877, which set the pattern for conservation of the Crown Lands and the establishment of Commoners' Rights, with re-constitution of the Ancient Court of Verderers, restrictions on the total area available for inclosure, and specific mention of the landscape and amenity importance of the Forest. In 1923 the Forestry Commission was made responsible for the management of the Crown Lands.
3.1.5. Only 30 years ago the Open Forest extended as far as Ringwood in the west and Whiteparish in the north. In response to the increasing pressures of the motor car, the open lands were fenced and gridded in 1964 and this area became the New Forest Perambulation. Much of the land outside the Perambulation still retains its New Forest character. Numerous heaths have survived as have small areas of ancient woodland and mires which were once part of the Open Forest. The enclosed lands found within and surrounding the Open Forest have their own distinctive local character ranging from the large estates of the south to the intimate and small-scale villages in the centre and around the periphery.
3.1.6. The importance of all these areas as part of the New Forest has been recognised in the establishment of the New Forest Heritage Area and these landscapes are protected, not only for their function in supporting the community of commoners which run ponies and cattle on the Forest, but for their own special qualities.
3.1.7. A pivotal part of our vision for the New Forest is the protection and enhancement of its traditional character. Traditional character is used as an all-embracing term to describe the unique and distinctive quality of the New Forest. Landscape, historical and cultural influences, wildlife habitat, and archaeology all help to influence this character. This chapter first considers the main elements that contribute to the traditional character of the Forest.' landscape, nature conservation, built environment and archaeology. It then looks in more detail at what needs to be achieved and explores mechanisms to deliver action on the ground.
3.2 The New Forest Landscape
3.2.1. The traditional character of the Forest has been widelydocumented and interpreted and this contributes to an understanding ofthe rural character of the New Forest. More recently, studies carriedout for the Countryside Commission and the New Forest Committee havedescribed this character and have identified several distinctivelandscape types which are shown on Map 2. Hampshire County Council have also set a countryside framework of landscape types which broadly embraces these, and is working with District Councils to develop a common approach to landscape assessment.
3.2.2. There is no formal landscape designation which applies to the whole New Forest. The Crown Lands are protected to a large extent from development by the Ministerial Mandate upon the Forestry Commission to conserve the Forest's traditional character, and the coastal landscape between Lymington and Fawley is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Other landscape designations are included in Table 1.
3.2.3. The landscape of the enclosed lands still retains much of its special qualities. Small irregular fields are divided by hedges, ditches and small copses. The large estates are characterised by mature trees, well managed wooded blocks and regular clusters of brick farm buildings. Interspersed throughout the Forest are the Forest villages which have retained many of their vernacular buildings. Remnants of former heathland, ancient woodlands, ancient hedgerows and flower rich meadows add diversity to the landscapes and habitats which complement the Open Forest heart. The enclosed lands also provide essential back up grazing for commoners' stock. The importance of such land is discussed in 4.1. There may be opportunities for landscape improvements to be carried out to strengthen the traditional character of the area.
3.2.4. Development in some areas has lead to a loss of landscape character, particularly on the fringes of the New Forest in the Waterside parishes (parishes adjacent to Southampton Water) and Totton areas. In the south, the villages of Sway and Bransgore have gradually extended into their surrounding farmed landscapes. Many of the larger estates have seen fragmented development some of which has now been consolidated. Pressure has also been exerted on semi-natural habitats from activities such as intensification of agriculture, horse livery, golf course development and major infrastructure such as transmission lines and telecommunication masts. Economic pressures for diversification and fragmentation of land continue to result in changes to field patterns and boundaries and changes in traditional practices have a resulting effect on landscape and nature conservation.1 8
Strategic Objective To enhance or create new landscapes to reflect the traditional character of the New Forest. [S03.2i]
Strategic Objective To ensure that those features which reflect 'local distinctiveness' are retained. [S03.2ii]
Strategic Objective To protect the landscape from inappropriate or intrusive development. [S03.2iii], see also RA4.6a-c
Strategic Objective To ensure that the cumulative effect of minor changes in the landscape brought about by our modern lifestyle do not prejudice the traditional character of the New Forest landscape. [S03.2iv], see also RA3.4a]
Identify opportunities to enhance/create landscapes to reflect the traditional character of the New Forest.[RA3.2a]0
Review existing work on the identification of the traditional character of the New Forest landscape and work with the local community to identify distinctive and traditional elements which they value and use this to inform policy makers. [RA3.2b], see aiso RA3.4a
3.3. Nature conservation
3.3.1. The formal designation of the majority of land within the New Forest Perambulation as a Wetland of International Importance (under the RAMSAR Convention) and as a Special Protection Area for Birds (under the EC Birds Directive), has set the importance of the Forest in an international context. A similar area is proposed for designation as a Special Area for Conservation (SAC) under the EC Habitats Directive (see Map 3). Part of the coastline falling within the New Forest boundary is designated as the North Solent National Nature Reserve, and proposals to designate the coastline and intertidal areas between Hurst Castle and Southampton Water within a further Special Protection Area are currently being discussed. Approximately half of the total area within the New Forest is classified as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the majority of these sites are in Crown ownership, managed by the Forest Enterprise arm of the Forestry Commission.
3.3.2. There are a range of other local designations (see Table 1) which help to identify important habitats beyond the SSSI'S. There may be opportunities to enhance and extend individual sites and to create opportunities for linkage in the form of wildlife corridors.
3.3.3. A Declaration of Intent' agreed between the Forestry Commission, Verderers and English Nature governs the working relationship between these bodies with respect to the management of the Crown Lands. Under the Declaration, subject plans have been drawn up for major habitat types. Site agreements for Sites of Scientific Interest in private ownership are drawn up by English Nature through their Wildlife Enhancement Scheme which provides funding for physical management of the sites.
Strategic Objective To secure the conservation and enhancement of the New Forest habitats, by working with farmers, landowners and appropriate Government and non-Government organisations. [S03.3i]
Strategic Objective To ensure that all sites meeting accepted criteria for international, and national designation are so designated and are protected and managed to conserve or enhance those features which gave rise to their designation. [S03.3ii]20
Table 1 Landscape, Archaeological and Nature ConservationDesignations
- Review present nature conservation information base and extend where necessary, making relevant information available to land managers. [RA3.3a]
- Identify sites of nature conservation importance, taking steps to designate sites criteria. tRA3.3b]. see also RA3.10a
- To secure funding and agree programmes for the management and enhancement of New Forest habitats, including implementing subject plans as agreed under the Declaration of Intent [R3,3c] see also RA3.14c
3.4. The Built Environment
3.4.1. An important element of the traditional character of the New Forest is attributable to the built environment and the way in which this relates to the natural landscape of the Forest. The design of New Forest cottages, the layout of villages, and the existence of drove roads all reflect the relationship between people and the Forest.
3.4.2. The New Forest has a rich built heritage, evident in 16 conservation areas and numerous listed buildings, from a variety of different periods. The conservation areas at Minstead and Fritham are typical of the dispersed character of Forest settlements and ancient field patterns. Other conservation areas reflect the unique history of the area, for example those at Beaulieu and Bucklers Hard.
3.4.3. In some areas traditional features have been replaced unsympathetically. Small changes to property, street furniture and lighting can cumulatively contribute to a loss of local character and distinctiveness. More noticeable are the electrical transmission lines and telecommunications masts which have a significant impact over large areas of landscape. Increased light pollution can also add a more urban impression.
3.4.4. The changing nature of agriculture has resulted in many farm buildings becoming redundant. Opportunities should be taken for their successful re-use in a manner which does not exert adverse pressures upon the Forest. See also RA4.2b.
Strategic Objective To ensure that the built landscape reflects the traditional character of the New Forest. [S03.4.] See also 3.2
Identify elements of the built environment which add to local distinctiveness and incorporate into conservation guidance for policy makers and develops. [RA3.4a]
Encourage the use of traditional materials and techniques in the built environment [RA3.4b]
Encourage highway authorities to use materials and adopt maintenance practices which reflect the traditional character of the New Forest [RA3,4c]
3.5. History and Archaeology
3.5.1. The New Forest forms a major component of the unploughed lowlands of the South of England and contains a wealth of nationally important archaeological features. More than 200 Bronze Age burial mounds remain in the Forest, showing middle to late Bronze Age occupation, although over two thirds were destroyed before this century. Pollen profiles constructed from the soils buried beneath these burial mounds reveal much information concerning the historical land use. Bronze Age boiling mounds which were used to heat water have also been found throughout the Forest, although many have been damaged through groundworks carried out in the 1960's and 70's. There are also 35-40 extensive field systems which are considered to be of either Bronze or Iron Age.
3.5.2. Evidence of settlement during the Iron Age is sparse, although there are several hill forts in the area. The location of some of these such as Tatchbury Mount, Castle Malwood, and possibly Frankenbury, may have influenced the routing of various Roman roads crossing the Forest. During the late Roman period the New Forest supported an important pottery industry producing a distinctive 'New Forest Ware' using the local pottery clays and ample fuel and water supplies. This good quality pottery supplied an area up to thirty miles from the Forest.
3.5.3. Evidence of human activity during the Saxon period is less clear, although there was some consolidation of permanent settlement on the more productive soils, forming the basis of the settlement pattern which exists today. A number of linear boundary earthworks probably date from this period.
3.5.4. From the medieval time onwards a wealth of archaeological and historical detail survives. The majority of the thirteenth century boundary marks of the Forest can be identified, the enclosure banks of early land grants and of encroachments exist, as do features such as park pales and the sites of hunting lodges. There are the banks of numerous early coppices, which were followed by the silvicultural inclosures largely dating between 1700 and 1870. More recent are the military remains of mostly Second World War origin.
3.5.5. Work carried out by the Hampshire Field Club, the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England (RCHME), English Heritage and the County Councils has provided a major contribution in identifying sites of archaeological interest.
3.5.6 Many sites of archaeological interest have been lost in the past as a result of agriculture, forestry and development. It is important that the implications for the archaeology are fully understood before any land management or development is carried out.
Strategic Objective To conserve and maintain archaeological features and their landscape settings. [S03.5i]
Strategic Objective To interpret sites of archaeological and historic significance, where appropriate. [S03.5ii]
- Support work of RCHME , County Councils and local bodies in surveying the archaeology and historic landscapes of the New Forest and extend as necessary. [RA3.5a]0
- Identify sites in need of protection and restoration. [RA3.5b]0
- Incorporate archaeological considerations into all site managementdocuments and decisions. [RA3.5c]
(see also Chapter 4 - Forestry and Woodland Management)
3.6.1. The New Forest has a considerable woodland resource made up of the unenclosed woodlands of the Open Forest (Ancient and Ornamental Woodlands), the Forestry Commission timber inclosures and privately owned woodland.
3.6.2. The Forestry Commission is responsible for the management of the Ancient and Ornamental Woodlands and their timber inclosures. The Forestry Commission's role in the management of the Crown woodlands is governed by the Minister's Mandate confirmed by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in December 1992. Within the Mandate, the Forestry Commission is required to give priority to the conservation of the Forest's traditional character. The New Forest Management Plan 1992-2001 develops the Minister's Mandate further and makes specific recommendations for the Ancient and Ornamental woodlands, the inclosures and the Open Forest. All felling and replanting within the Crown Lands is subject to approval by the Forestry Authority. Proposals are submitted by Forest Enterprise in the form of Forest Design Plans or for small specific areas as felling licence applications.
3.6.3. The Ancient and Ornamental pasture woodland is of both national and international importance. The continuity of habitat has allowed a rich flora and fauna to persist which includes lichens, mosses, fungi and invertebrates feeding on dead wood. The Forestry Commission's policy is to conserve them as an essential component of the traditional character of the Forest and discussion is currently cantering on the most appropriate management practices to achieve this. Some areas of pasture woodland are contained within the statutory timber inclosures. The 1988 New Forest Review recommended that the possibility of returning pasture woodland trapped within inclosures, and allowing some mature broadleaved plantations to develop into Ancient and Ornamental Woodland, should be investigated.
3.6.4. The nature and extent of privately owned woodland is less well researched. Large areas of woodland, small copses and individual trees all contribute to the traditional character of the New Forest. Consequently the design and siting of new planting, changes in management practices and species composition and loss of hedgerow trees all have important implications for the Forest as a whole. A survey carried out in 1994 by English Nature identified 94 sites supporting ancient woodland amounting to 2330 ha. Much of this woodland has been replanted. Indeed, in the north of the New Forest approximately 37% of all of the ancient woodland identified in a survey by English Nature (1994), has been replanted with conifers. It is important that any remaining areas of ancient woodland are protected and appropriately managed for their historic, ecological and amenity value.
3.6.5. In some areas of the New Forest, particularly within the enclosed lands, woodland plays an important role as an element of the designed landscape, for example, in formal parkland settings. The importance of designed landscapes within the New Forest needs to be recognised and incorporated into management policies where appropriate.
3.6.6. The New Forest timber industry is an important part of the traditional character of the New Forest in both landscape and cultural terms. Conifers are a major component of the Forest economy and have become, to a certain extent, an accepted part of the landscape. However, the New Forest has traditionally been a mixed woodland, with a strong broadleaf component. This was echoed by the New Forest Review recommendation that the maximum feasible area of native broadleaved component should be grown on the longest feasible rotations, and that the possibility of restoring some conifer plantations to broadleaves should be investigated. Positive management would assist in maximising the biodiversity of all woodlands. The economic aspects of forestry and woodland management are considered in 4.3.
3.6.7. Woodland managed for timber production shows more signs of intervention than the semi-natural woodland communities, which grow in a less regimented manner. The large scale and regular outlines of plantations are very different to the irregular and broken shapes of the less managed woods. Better landscaping of plantations would ensure that they are in keeping with the more natural structure of the semi-natural woodlands. Particular attention should be given where plantations play a key role in screening unsightly development such as pylons.
Strategic Objective To promote the conservation and enhancement of woodland for its historic, landscape, ecological and amenity value. S03.6i]
Strategic Objective To encourage the sympathetic management of woodland landscapes, increasing the broadleaved component, where appropriate and promoting measures to increase biodiversity.SO3.6ii]
3.7. Lowland Heathland
- Review and define the traditional character of the New Forestwoodland resource and seek to sustain and enhance this traditionalcharacter through appropriate management and new planting. [RA3.6a],see also RA3.2a,b, RA4.3a0
- Research and stimulate local markets for wood products whichwould encourage the more effective management and expansion ofbroadleaved woods. [RA3.6b], see also RA4.4a0
- Identify options to expand the current broadleavedresource. [RA3.6c]0
- Foster a greater awareness of landscape and nature conservationissues in woodland planting and management. [RA3.6d]0
- Identify important designed elements within the woodland landscape and incorporate into management advice and decisions. [RA3.6e], see also 3.2b
3.7.1. Today's heathland is a product of man's activities over a period of more than 3000 years. Since the early 19th century there has been a rapid decline in lowland heath throughout Britain, with losses for wildlife and archaeology. The New Forest heathlands make up the single largest unit of continuous lowland heath in Europe and therefore are considered of international importance. The majority of heathland within the New Forest is managed by the Forestry Commission as part of their Open Forest management.
3.7.2. Some areas of heathland were enclosed under the New Forest Acts and planted with trees. This issue was discussed at length by the New Forest Review Group in 1986, which recommended that the Forestry Commission and English Nature should investigate whether some conifer woods on former heath should be returned to open heathland at the end of their rotations. This process has already begun in certain inclosures through the Forestry Commission's holistic design plan process.
3.7.3. Outside the Crown Lands there are several heaths which were once part of the communing system and were enclosed in the early 19th century. On the higher ground some of these commons remain unenclosed. The western fringes of the Forest have extensive heaths which although contiguous with the Open Forest are not part of the Crown Lands. Those which lie inside the Perambulation have in many cases been degraded by recreational use and gravel extraction as well as a lack of management. Common land outside the Perambulation has suffered from a lack of grazing, resulting in scrub encroachment. Electrical transmission lines, road building, and fly tipping contribute to the decline of these areas. There is a need to identify opportunities and priorities for heathland restoration and re-creation to enhance the existing resource.
3.7.4. The heathlands are characterised by their wild, open and seemingly remote landscapes. Electrical power lines, telecommunications masts and development pressures, such as the Esso oil refinery and Fawley power station can have a major visual impact on these open landscapes.
Strategic Objective To maintain and enhance areas of heathland and extend where appropriate. [S03.7i]
Strategic Objective To retain the open landscape of heathland and mitigate against the affect of unsightly development and infrastructure on views across open heathland. [S03.7ii]26
3.8 Rivers and Wetlands
- Develop a strategy for the restoration and re-creation of heathland In the New [RA3.7a]
- Work with landowners/ land managers toto conserve and extend heathland, reinstating traditional management, where possible. [RA3.7b3.8.
- Raise awareness of the ecological importance of heathland and encourage local support for its conservation [RA3.7c], see also RA3.2b
- Identify areas where major infrastructure has a deleterious effect on views across heathland and make information available to policy makers and developers. [RA3.7d], see also RA4.6b
3.8.1. The New Forest streams have a particular, almost unique character. Draining peat and acid sands and cutting through alluvium and clay, they have affinities with upland rivers despite their lowland context. The Lymington River is the largest New Forest river and is to be designated a River SSSI. The New Forest contains the headwaters and tributaries of several other rivers including the Avon, Test and Beaulieu Rivers.
3.8.2 Other important wetland features include historic water meadows and man-made ponds and lakes. Some of these areas of open water were created purely as landscape features while others retain a functional purpose. On the Open Forest alone, there are well over 50 ponds of various sizes, both permanent, and ephemeral, many of which are important for invertebrates and amphibians. The New Forest streams are acid in nature due to run-off from surrounding heathland, making them rare in the south of the country. Several support a rich wildlife.
3.8.3. The Forest contains about ninety separate valley mires. This is a significant proportion of all that survive in Western Europe. The valley mires have a distinctive vegetation and form an important feature of the landscape. The nature conservation importance of these wetland areas is recognised internationally by the New Forest's designation as a Wetland of International Importance (RAMSAR Site). The most extensive and important valley mires occur on the Crown Lands of the New Forest. These provide an important source of grazing for commoners' animals, particularly in the early spring when the first flush of growth precedes the growth of most grasses. The Statutory Authorities have an obligation to conserve these wetlands both within their remits and due to their international designation.
3.8.4. Valley mires can be found in combination with heathland in several areas outside the Crown Lands. Important sites include Holbury Purlieu, Applemore, Badminston Common and Toms Down. These are particularly vulnerable to interference within their catchment through drainage run-off from surrounding lands. Run off from farmed land can also affect water quality in rivers and streams.
3.8.5. Most of the rivers and streams within the New Forest have been modified by widening or straightening resulting in a loss of biological diversity and traditional character. Gravel extraction and private bore holes can affect the level of the water table and have led to low flows in several of the rivers and streams.
3.8.6. The Environment Agency are producing a Catchment Management Plan for the New Forest Rivers which will set out policies for the future management of the water environment of the New Forest.
Strategic Objective To conserve and enhance wetland areas of importance to the traditional character of the New Forest.[S03.8i]
Strategic Objective To ensure the sympathetic management of river corridors including the restoration of natural features where appropriate. [S03.8ii]
3.9. Acid Grasslands and Meadows
- Identify wetland features important to the traditional character of the New Forest and work with landowners/land managers to secure their conservation. [RA3.8a], see also RA3.3c0
- Restore and enhance damaged valley mires.[RA3.8b]0
- Work with the Environment Agency on the New Forest Catchment Management Plan.[RA3.8c]
3.9.1. The New Forest lawns are a particularly distinctive feature in the New Forest landscape and comprise a natural grassland type unusual in Britain. The quality of grazing on these richer soils means that they are extensively used by commoners' animals. Some former lawns fall within the statutory timber inclosures. This was investigated as part of the New Forest Review and it was recommended that the possibility of returning these former lawns within inclosures to Open Forest should be investigated.
3.9.2. The enclosed lands support many flower rich meadows, with little or no statutory protection. A survey carried out by English Nature in 1994 identified 136 species rich meadows of nature conservation importance which require further study. These surviving meadows with their associated hedgerows, ditches and bank systems are an important historic landscape feature and are rich in wildlife. Unimproved meadows are particularly vulnerable to decline, due to their highly fragmented and widely dispersed nature. Their conservation is dependent on the continuity of non-intensive traditional grassland management. Incentive mechanisms need to be made available within the New Forest to re-establish traditional grassland management within the enclosed lands.
Strategic Objective To conserve New Forest lawns as part of the traditional character of the New Forest, having regard to those lawns identified by English Nature as having a major nature conservation value, and to their value for grazing. [S03.9i], see also RA3.3c
Strategic Objective To ensure the protection and sympathetic management of species rich meadows on the enclosed lands. [S03.9ii]
3.10. Coastal areas
- To identify areas of important acidgrasslands and meadows and work with landowners/land managers tosecure their protection. [RA3.9a]
3.10.1. The New Forest coastline includes much of the north shore of the West Solent and extends to within 1 km of the western shore of Southampton Water in the vicinity of Dibden Bay. The coastline comprises a wide variety of habitats which support a diversity of plant communities dominated by species tolerant of high salinity. The intertidal muds are rich in marine invertebrates and these in turn sustain high densities of waders, wildfowl and other estuarine birds. Some areas suffer from problems caused by Spartina dieback and erosion. The littoral fringe of the New Forest, forms part of a wider area (the Solent) recognised as being of international importance as a migratory refuelling station and over-wintering area for waders, Brent Geese and some ducks. Stretches of coast between Hurst and Calshot are classified as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI's) and include the North Solent National Nature Reserve, see also 3.3.
3.10.2. The coastal fringe is a large-scale flat, open landscape with wide views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. For the most part it is a quiet, secluded landscape, with little development, though also bleak and exposed to the full force of winds off the sea. The majority of coastline is protected for its nature conservation value. However, there are important public access sites at Lepe and Calshot. Plans to develop Dibden Bay are currently being discussed. Any development in this area may have ramifications for the conservation of the area. Any proposals will need to be looked at very carefully in conjunction with a comprehensive environmental assessment.
3.10.3. English Nature have proposed that the coastline and intertidal zone of a number of SSSI's in the Solent and Southampton Water are corporately designated a Special Protection Area under the EC Wild Birds Directives.
Strategic Objective To conserve and enhance the coastal and marine habitats of the New Forest and maintain and improve their biological diversity.[S03.10i]
Strategic Objective To retain the quiet, open landscape of the coastal fringe. [S03.10ii]
- Support the designation of the coastline as a SpecialProtection Area for Birds/ i RAMSAR site. [RA3.10a], see alsoRA3.3b. RA3.3c i0
- Identify opportunities for enhancing coastal habitats. [RA3.10b]0
- Encourage the implementation of an integrated Coastal Management Strategy which includes policies to conserve the quiet, open landscape of the coastal fringe. [RA3.10c]
3.11.1. A long history of agricultural enclosure and woodland clearance has been responsible for creating the attractive and visually diverse rural landscape of the enclosed lands. Hedgerows are very much a traditional feature of this landscape and provide stock proof barriers as well as being valuable wildlife habitats. Pressures for increasingly intensive farming have contributed to and still contribute to their loss. Many of the wooded field boundaries have been neglected and grubbed up, both because of their maintenance implications and because small fields restrict the work output of modern agricultural machinery.
3.11.2. There has been no comprehensive study carried out on hedgerows within the New Forest. However, Hampshire Wildlife Trust carried out a review of the condition of a sample of field boundaries in 1994, which was based on the landscape types shown on Map 3, and found that only just over 50% of hedgerows surveyed were considered to be sufficiently well managed to be stockproof and in good condition. Hedgerows were at risk in terrace farmlands, coastal estates and particularly heathland small-holdings where they are a major component of the landscape. A comprehensive survey of both past and present hedgerows will aid a greater understanding of typical New Forest fringe landscapes.
3.11.3. Some grants may be available for the maintenance and restoration of hedgerows, for example, through Countryside Stewardship. The 1995 Environment Act introduced new protection for important hedgerows, to be defined by Local Authorities with respect to specific criteria.
Strategic Objective To ensure the retention and enhancement of hedgerows and small areas of woodland, especially where they form an important part of the traditional New Forest landscape. [S03.11]
3.12. Species Conservation
- Survey the extent and quality of the hedgerow resource within the New Forest and identify those in need of enhancement and protection [RA3.11a], see also RA3.2b
- Work with landowners/land managers to secure traditional management of hedgerows, restoring and replanting where appropriate. [RA3,11b]
3.12.1. The scale and diversity of habitats which exist in the New Forest ensures a rich and varied wildlife. Approximately half of all the species of British butterflies, moths and beetles, one third of dragonflies now breeding in Britain and nearly 70% of native grasshoppers and crickets have been found in the Forest. The New Forest also supports populations of all but one of Britain's native reptiles and amphibia. It is exceptionally rich in woodland insectivorous birds, and supports a large proportion of the national populations of at least five species of birds particularly associated with heathland. At least 46 species of plants which are nationally or internationally rare occur in the New Forest. For many species the New Forest is either the only or the main centre of their British or European distribution (Tubbs, 1986). The size of habitat is an important factor in sustaining the populations of these species.
3.12.2. The Solent estuary is particularly important for over-wintering by migratory birds and supports at least 8% of the national wintering wader population. The North West Solent, Beaulieu and Southampton Water are of international importance for Brent Geese and of national importance for Black-tailed Godwit and breeding Blackheaded Gulls, Sandwich Tern, Little Tern and Common Tern. The coastal areas of the New Forest form an integral part of this habitat.
3.12.3. There has been little comprehensive survey work carried out on the enclosed lands, particularly in identifying wildlife corridors between the Crown Lands of the Forest and the surrounding areas. This is an area where future study will be essential, all data should be incorporated within a long term monitoring programme.
Strategic Objective To increase the populations and distributions of uncommon and restricted species for which the New Forest is a stronghold. [S03.12]30
3.13. Environmental Quality
- Review present information base, adding to this through a surveyof wildlife of enclosed lands, including the identification ofwildlife corridors and use this information to create a supportivemanagement regime [RA3.12]
3.13.1. The quality of much of the New Forest is dependent on the maintenance of a clean and pollution free environment. The 1995 Environment Act which provides the framework for pollution control, set up the Environment Agency which combines the work of the National Rivers Authority, HM Inspectorate of Pollution and the Waste Regulation Authorities.
3.13.2. Air quality is presently monitored on a continuous basis at three locations within the Forest. Air quality is generally good. There is, however, lifetime research to show widespread effects of air pollutants on the flora and fauna of the Forest, although there is some evidence to suggest that sulphur pollution has impoverished the lichen flora of some parts of the Forest closest to Fawley Oil Refinery and Fawley Power Station (Parfitt, 1992.). The 1995 Environment Act provides a legal framework for air quality management and identifies new roles for Local Authorities.
3.13.3. Water quality of the New Forest rivers and streams is generally good, due to the absence of intensive agricultural activity within the catchment area. However, discharges into the Solent, both sewage and industrial, can have a significant effect on the environmental quality of the coastline.
3.13.4. The Forest's night sky is lit by nearby urban areas. There is little factual data on the effects of light pollution although the issue is gaining increasing recognition. The Council for the Protection of Rural England has a national campaign to press for planning policies to protect unlit countryside and to reduce light pollution.
Strategic Objective TO ensure that the traditional character of the New Forest is not adversely affected by pollution. [S03.13]31
3.14. Land Management
- Review the monitoring of pollutants and ensure that pollution control policies are sensitive to the need of the New Forest [RA3.13a]
- Instigate a survey of light pollution and encourage the development of policies for control [RA3.13b]
- Ensure that regulatory authorities are encouraged to take into account the effect of proposals beyond the New Forest boundary which may affect its environmental quality, including air and water. [RA3.13c]
3.14.1 The New Forest is already a beautiful and special place but there is always scope to improve on existing management practices. There is also potential for developing and applying ideas for specific enhancement that will strengthen the traditional character of the whole Forest.
3.14.2. Some parts of the Forest are under pressure from agricultural intensification, development, or in some cases a lack of sympathetic management, and are in need of practical conservation. There may be opportunities to extend and create new habitats and landscape features by a variety of means, for example, using assistance from voluntary task groups such as the British Trust for Conservation.
3.14.3 If our vision of enhancing the special quality Of the New Forest is to become a reality, we will need to provide sufficient incentives for landowners and land managers to participate. This may be conferred through countryside management schemes such as Countryside Stewardship and set-aside. Practical conservation of the enclosed lands will involve working with owners, managers and appropriate bodies and assisting with the development of whole farm plans which take into consideration landscape, wildlife and recreation objectives. This requires technical advice tailored to the New Forest.
3.14.4. A considerable area of the New Forest is common land. Grazing of the Open Forest by ponies and cattle has a strong influence on the age, regeneration and species type of the vegetation. The animals can be described as the 'landscape architects' of the Forest, preventing the Forest being overrun by scrub and helping to create a habitat regime in which the rarer Forest plants and animals can survive. The numbers and the proportion of ponies to cattle have a significant effect on the ecology of the Forest, as both exhibit differing grazing characteristics. Current thinking suggests developing a broad optimum range within which the numbers of ponies and cattle can fluctuate. The lllingworth report on Grazing in the New Forest recommended that the pony and cattle premium schemes and marking fees should be used as a mechanism for influencing numbers turned out. However, recent research suggests that the number of animals turned out is only partly dependent on financial incentives and that other social and cultural factors play a greater part in decision making. (Tubbs, 1994). These are considered further in 4.1.
3.14.5. The quality and extent of common grazing available to the Commoners is the subject of continuing debate between the Commoners, the Forestry Commission and English Nature. The New Forest Act 1949, bestows on the Forestry Commission the responsibility to keep the grazings adequately drained and clear of coarse herbage. The Open Forest Advisory Committee on which all these three bodies sit, sets the annual programmes for management of the Crown Lands carried out by the Forestry Commission.
3.14.6. The New Forest is a place that many people have opinions about. The degree of personal commitment to the Forest is extraordinarily high. 'New Forest Pride Week' and a variety of conservation activities demonstrate that there is a great wealth of goodwill towards the Forest which could be exploited further. There is a need to provide a New Forest focus for voluntary effort.
3.14.7. The National Trust have site wardening staff to manage National Trust owned commons and Hampshire County Council also have staff at Lepe and Calshot. The Hampshire urban fringe project team 'Greenspace' have undertaken work at some sites, usually close to the urban area and the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers operates, on demand, at various sites in the Forest. Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust also have wardening staff on their reserves. On the Crown Lands, the Forestry Commission keepers undertake much conservation work and are responsible for the general management of visitors.
3.14.8. The Forestry Commission operates a countryside management service and information service within the Crown Lands which covers slightly less than half the total area of the New Forest. Elsewhere a range of countryside management services are available but these are operated by a variety of organisations and lack coherence. This rather fragmented approach confuses the public perception of the New Forest.
Strategic Objective To ensure the appropriate management of common land, taking into account the needs of Commoners, the maintenance of the traditional landscape and biodiversity of the area. [S03.14i]
Strategic Objective To ensure that advisory bodies convey a common message and provide advice specifically tailored to the New Forest on a range of land management issues.[S03.14ii]
Strategic Objective To harness voluntary effort to conserve and enhance the New Forest. [S03.14iii]
- Encourage the stocking of common land within an agreed range through the premium schemes or other mechanisms. [RA3.14a]0
- Assess the current provision of countryside management in the New Forest and develop a countryside management service which builds on existing services and complements it in areas where the provision is lacking.[RA3.14b]0
- Influence Government policy and programmes to develop suitable financial mechanisms for the conservation and enhancement of the New Forest.[RA3.14c]0
- Develop a New Forest focus for voluntary work, by working with voluntary organisations and the local community.[RA3.14d]
CHAPTER 4 LIVING IN THE FOREST
Appended image: ' Our aim is to ensure that the social and economic needs of the New Forest community are met in a manner which is compatible with the traditional character of the New Forest'
4.1.1. The practise of communing has been a major part of the life, landscape and culture of the New Forest since medieval times and is particularly important in maintaining the landscape and ecology of the Forest.
4.1.2. Commoning is rarely viable as a full time occupation and most Commoners today are part-time with other jobs to supplement their income, or work full time and look after their stock in the evenings and at weekends. The Census of the Commoners undertaken by Dr Jo lvey (1991) suggests that young Commoners are finding it increasingly difficult to continue communing.
4.1.3. Access to affordable land is often difficult, and whereas reports suggest that there is sufficient surplus land for the current numbers of depastured animals, this does not always mean land is available and Commoners often have to travel long distances to gain access to suitable land. Freehold land within the Perambulation itself is virtually unobtainable as the capital value is high and rents are too expensive to be viable for communing stock, inflated by the demand for land for recreational horse-keeping. The need to maintain an even distribution of back up grazing land throughout the New Forest is an issue which has been recognised by the planning authorities and is incorporated in their planning policies. Management arrangements whereby one organisation takes a central responsibility for renting land to Commoners may facilitate the supply of grazing, perhaps through a voluntary scheme with incentives for landowners to take part. See also 4.2.7.
4.1.4. The accessibility of the Forest has an effect on the price of property. With limited new building and consequent pressure for extensions and improvements, there is an inevitable effect on the supply of small dwellings. The New Forest District Local Plan has a policy for Commoners' housing which provides a framework in which permission may exceptionally be granted to build homes secured for communing activities. The New Forest Commoning Trust has been set up specifically to assist this process. Following the lllingworth Report (1993), the Forestry Commission have adopted a policy of letting housing to practising Commoners when suitable opportunities arise.
4.1.5. Many millions of visitors come to the Forest each year to picnic on the grass lawns and look at the ponies. The Commoners' animals are a major attraction for visitors, although the Commoners themselves receive no direct benefit for this. Visitors can cause problems in the management of the animals. Better education of both visitors and locals, for example, on the feeding habits of ponies, needs to be addressed and campaigns by the Forestry Commission and the Verderers have already begun to have some effect.
4.1.6. There may be opportunities to develop ways of improving the financial return from communing. A report prepared for the New Forest Committee by the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service (ADAS) in 1993 suggested that joint marketing of Forest animals and produce could offer financial benefits.
4.1.7. The majority of roads within the Open Forest are unfenced and each year approximately 160 animals are killed or injured. The loss of stock results in substantial financial loss to the Commoner, notwithstanding the emotional stress. Some Commoners now feel that animal accidents are at unacceptable levels and are not prepared to run stock on the Forest. The 40 mph speed limit introduced by Hampshire County Council and an extensive publicity campaign has gone some way to reducing animal deaths, see also 5.15.
4.1.8. Animal welfare is an important issue on the Forest and has generated concern at both local and national level. The Verderers have introduced a system of animal standards which their staff use to grade the condition of ponies and so ensure that animals in poor condition do not remain on the Forest. These standards were developed in consultation with the Commoners' Defence Association and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. In addition, a twice yearly tour of the Forest is carried out by several animal welfare groups, horse societies, the Commoners' Defence Association and the Verderers to assess current standards and discuss guidelines for the management of animals. Animal welfare is the subject of ongoing review by the Verderers.
4.1.9. The Verderers, while benefiting from an increase in grant from the Forestry Commission, have limited funds. Better funding would enable them to play a more pro- active role in their management of stock on the Forest and in particular educate the public about communing. There is a continuing need to maintain high standards and to make the public aware of the importance of communing to the conservation of the New Forest
4.1.10. The lllingworth Report (1992) looked into the future of common grazing in the New Forest and made a number of recommendations on important issues. There is a need for many of these issues to be addressed in a plan to secure the future of communing within the Forest. This is perhaps best developed by the Verderers in consultation with the Commoners.
Strategic Objective To ensure the continued future of communing in the New Forest. [S04.1]
- Work with appropriate bodies such as the Commoners' Defence Association to assess commoning needs and develop new initiatives for the support of commonning as opportunities arise. [RA4.1a]
- Investigate management arrangements to promote the supply of land suitable for back-up grazing for Commoners. [RA4.1b]
- Continue to support the New Forest Commoning Trust in facilitating the provision of housing for young Commoners. [RA4.1c]
- Seek to ensure an appropriate level of funding for the Verderers, particularly in respect of their role in the management and welfare of stock. [RA4.1d]
- Review and implement outstanding recommendations of the Illingworth Report. [RA4.1 e]
4.2.1. Farming within the New Forest is not restricted to communing. The conservation of the whole New Forest landscape is dependant on its sympathetic management by landowners and farmers. Farming, forestry and horticulture constitute the major land use of the area, and along with tourism and retailing are the principal sources of employment within the New Forest, with agriculture and tourism accounting for 50% of all jobs (New Forest District Council Local Plan - Consultation Papers, 1993). A healthy local economy is therefore of great importance to the care of the landscape.
4.2.2. Agriculture accounts for approximately 63% of the total area of privately owned land in the New Forest. Between 1982 and 1992, the overall area under agriculture fell by 8.9%, with the main areas of reduction occurring in the south west and east (ADAS, 1993). This reflects the areas of development pressure in the Waterside parishes and in the New Milton/ Christchurch area. Although not necessarily built on, some of this land will have been taken out of agricultural production for future development or sold for amenity and recreational purposes such as golf courses or recreational grazing of horses.
4.2.3. Much of the agricultural land belongs to large estates which are scattered around the periphery of the Crown Lands. Much of this land is tenanted, accounting for 40% of the total number of all farms in the New Forest (ADAS, 1993).
4.2.4 Whilst agriculture remains the dominant land use in terms of its area, its importance to the economy through employment and income generation has greatly diminished. In comparison with regional and national data, the number of part-time farmers has increased at a greater rate in the Forest than elsewhere leading to further fragmentation of holdings.
4.2.5. There have been considerable changes in agricultural policy over the last 50 years, both at national and international level. The post war years saw a drive for food production which resulted in the food surpluses of the late 70's and early 80's. However, in recent years the emphasis of agricultural policy has shifted away from further intensification to promoting environmental conservation alongside food production. In 1994 and 1995, the UK Government launched a range of new conservation schemes for farmers as part of its programme for implementing the EC Agri-Environmental Regulation, which was introduced in 1992 as part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform package. These include a range of incentives to encourage environmentally friendly farming. Forestry policy has undergone similar changes with wildlife conservation and recreation being encouraged as well as timber production, as part of multi-purpose woodland objectives.
4.2.6. CAP reform and the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) negotiations have led to uncertainty in the farming industry and farmers have been encouraged to seek alternative sources of income.
4.2.7. Financial incentives for less intensive farming are likely to play a key role in farm-based agricultural diversification. However, schemes are numerous and obtainable from a wide and often confusing variety of sources. It is therefore important that these schemes are co-ordinated to make optimum use of the resources available and wherever possible tailored to meet specific New Forest needs. The New Forest Committee will continue to search for opportunities to influence EU initiatives. For example, grazing of set-aside by Commoners' animals could be extremely beneficial to the New Forest system but is generally precluded by set-aside rules.
4.2.8. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) are likely to play an important role in providing incentives for the management of enclosed lands within the Forest. MAFF have no direct representation on the New Forest Committee but do appoint one of the Verderers. It is important that close links with appropriate Government departments are maintained.
4.2.9. While agricultural subsidies can provide some help in maintaining farm incomes, many farmers have needed to diversify their businesses to remain viable. Government planning guidance promotes policies that advocate a more diverse rural economy as a means of keeping people in rural areas. The main opportunities for diversification within the Forest are likely to be centred around buildings rather than land. Diversification can have both positive and negative effects. The challenge for the New Forest is to ensure flexibility for diversification whilst ensuring that developments and schemes have a positive effect on both the environment and the local community.
Strategic Objective To ensure that New Forest farming is sustainable and is carried out in a manner which supports the aims of the Strategy. [S04.21
4.3. Forestry and Woodland Management
- Work with landowners/ land managers to encourage environmentally sensitive farming by utilising the mechanisms and incentives in existence. [RA4.2a]&
- Encourage diversification where it helps to maintain the rural economy, without diminishing the traditional character of the New Forest. [RA4.2b]0
- Influence Government policy and programmes so that they may benefit the New Forest. (e.g. Set-Aside, ESA). [RA4.2c]0
- see also RA4.4a
4.3.1. There is a long tradition of woodland management within the New Forest. The majority of woodland is concentrated on the Crown Lands of the Forest but there are numerous areas of woodland of varying sizes to be found on the enclosed lands.
4.3.2. The Forest Enterprise arm of the Forestry Commission manages 27,000 hectares of Crown owned land for timber production and nature conservation and amenity value. Management objectives for the Crown Lands are set out in the Forestry Commission Management Plan 1992-2001 and reflect a multi-purpose forestry theme. Guidelines for Forestry Commission management are drawn up by the Forestry Authority and cover a variety of issues.
4.3.3. Many local businesses and jobs in the area are dependent upon timber operations in the New Forest. The Forestry Commission employs a large staff including forestry workers, rangers, keepers and seasonal campsite staff. The local timber industry is dominated by the Forestry Commission. The New Forest is the second largest source of home grown timber in the south of England and has approximately 100 timber inclosures ranging from 0.8 ha to 285 ha in size. Timber production in 1995 from the inclosures was in the order of 40,000 cubic metres, worked either by the Forestry Commission's own labour and contractors or sold standing. Timber is mainly sold to saw mills and companies in the area, providing a valuable part of the local economy. One major long established saw mill heavily dependent upon Forest timber, has an annual turnover of 3 million and employs 110 people, together with a further 200 sub- contractors and hauliers (1995 figs.).
4.3.4. The larger areas of woodland outside the Crown Lands are found on the major estates. Elsewhere, woodland has generally become fragmented and is in multiple ownership. There are various grants available for tree planting and woodland management. The Farm Woodland Premium scheme offers grants to farmers to plant on improved agricultural land and the Woodland Grant Scheme provides grants to private landowners to encourage environmentally-friendly forestry management. This scheme offers a higher rate of grant for broadleaf planting, although landowners still find that there is generally a low rate of return in the short term.
4.3.5. One way of encouraging a sustainable Forest economy in the New Forest is to further develop markets for New Forest timber. This may be particularly helpful in ensuring secured economic returns on hardwoods. At present the Forestry Commission make efforts to ensure that New Forest timber is used for its own recreation furniture and gateposts. Such policies might be extended to other Committee members who could be encouraged to use New Forest timber for items such as street and recreation furniture. Timber could be promoted under a New Forest kite mark which would indicate that it is grown sustainably and with regard to nature conservation objectives. There may also be opportunities to promote small scale markets, e.g. through the Wessex Coppice Group recently launched by Hampshire County Council.
4.3.7. Woodlands are a very important recreational feature of the New Forest. They provide some of the most valuable habitats and natural history resources and are attractive to the general public. They also offer considerable scope for education and interpretation. The community supplement of the Woodland Grant Scheme, offered by the Forestry Authority provides grants for woodlands where access for the general public is provided. However, the wide ranging access available on the Crown Lands has meant that local woodlands have not been given priority for such grants and the situation needs to be reviewed.
Strategic Objective To ensure that forestry and woodland management remains a significant land use within the New Forest. [S04.3]
Recommended Action: (see also 3.6)&
4.4. The Forest Community
- Encourage owners of woodland to take up woodland grant schemes with the Forestry Authority. Increase broadleaf planting where appropriate. [RA4.3a]0
- Develop the recreational potential of woodland areas, whereopportunities exist and without prejudicing landscape and natureconservation interests. [RA4.3b]0
- see also RA4.4a
4.4.1. Approximately 35,000 people live within the New Forest. In comparison with other protected areas of landscape, the Forest communities have relatively good opportunities for employment due to the close proximity of the major conurbations of Bournemouth/Poole and Southampton. However, dependence on outside sources of employment and services has led to a gradual weakening of the social and cultural integrity of the area. The all purpose function of New Forest villages has declined in common with most rural areas and many villages have lost shops and services which were directly related to the local forest community. In some cases new enterprises which have no Forest history have replaced important local services. The need for a sound employment structure for the Forest is recognised but any new initiatives need to seek inspiration from and be in sympathy with the Forest itself.
4.4.2. Agriculture, tourism and retailing are the major sources of employment in the New Forest. Few skilled manufacturing jobs exist in the New Forest, but larger numbers of jobs are available within a short distance. Any variation in the employment prospects for single New Forest employers or employment sectors can have considerable consequences for the Forest. The local economy must be made sufficiently robust to accommodate such changes.
4.4.3. The New Forest has a number of craft industries and has traditionally been a focus for rural skills, particularly those related to wood, such as furniture makers, fencing contractors and retail outlets specialising in wooden products. There is some concern that these skills are disappearing as a result of the mechanisation of Forest management. Rural skills need to be fostered if traditional features of the Forest are to be retained. The Commoning community may also have specific training needs which could be addressed locally.
4.4.4. Opportunities to gain 'added value' from goods produced in the Forest could be improved through the creation of a New Forest marque which could be used a marketing tool. Marketing under the New Forest name already takes place for some meat, honey and bottled water.
4.4.5. It is difficult for local people who need to live and work within the New Forest to obtain suitable accommodation. Much of this problem stems from the high value placed on even the most modest of properties within the New Forest. This proves a particular problem for Commoners who need to live in close proximity to their animals. Various solutions to meeting the need for housing of local people are being progressed. These include planning policies to retain small houses and provide housing for local need.
Strategic Objective TO ensure that the social and economic needs of the New Forest community are met without prejudicing the traditional character of the area. [S04.4]
4.5. The Tourism Industry
- Develop economic initiatives which create added value for New Forest based products,including agricultural and wood based products [RA4.4a]
- Examine needs and sources of training in skills which are important in supporting the character of the Forest [RA4.4b]
4.5.1. Tourism represents the single most valuable input into the economy of the New Forest assessed at 76 million in 1992 (Ecotec, 1992 ). Key elements of the tourist industry and its impact on the local economy, community and environment are discussed in the following section. The physical impact from the use of the Forest by visitors and their management is considered as part of the wider recreational use of the Forest in Chapter 5.
4.5.2. The tourism industry is of importance to the management of the fabric of the Forest, in that it provides financial support for the maintenance of landscapes, buildings, social and cultural facilities and employment. It is important therefore to sustain and enhance those elements of tourism that bring the most benefit to the Forest.
4.5.3. Visitors to the New Forest can be categorised into three groups: day visitors, local visitors and staying visitors. Day visitors are those who travel from outside the New Forest either from home or from a holiday elsewhere and who return the same day. Local visitors are those who live within the New Forest, but visit it for recreation and leisure, and staying visitors are those on holiday staying within the New Forest. Each of these groups bring varying benefits, for example, on a per head basis, staying visitors in serviced accommodation provide the highest income and number of jobs.
4.5.4 The tourism industry provides the main face to face contact with visitors and may provide the only point of contact with the day visitor. More detailed consideration of the needs and management implications for day and local visitors can be found in Chapter 5.
4.5.5. Staying visitors spent a total of 2.75 million nights in the Forest in 1992. (Ecotec, 1992). Visitors stay in either serviced accommodation (hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfast) or self-serviced accommodation such as campsites. The Forest contains approximately 26,000 holiday bedspaces, of which 14% are in serviced accommodation and more than 80% are in static or touring camping or caravanning sites. In comparison with regional and national percentages, the Forest's tourist accommodation is heavily oriented towards camping and caravanning.
4.5.6. The Forestry Commission manages 10 campsites with a total of 3,320 pitches. (1995 figs.). During Spring and Summer Bank Holidays extra provision is made to meet demand in the form of overflow sites. The report 'New Forest Camping - A Review & Options for the Future', published by the Forestry Commission in 1995 suggests a reduction and some re-distribution of pitches. Other sites provide a total of approximately 1400 pitches on 11 sites. Organisations exempted by the Caravan Sites Act license a number of sites of up to 5 pitches (1995 figures).
4.5.7. Camp sites, more particularly on the Open Forest, have suffered criticism on two principal counts: one is that their existence exerts pressure on the fragile habitat of the Open Forest,and the second is that the changing requirements of campers leads to a demand for improved facilities such as electrical hook-ups, which has led to claims of the general urbanising of campsites in otherwise rural locations. The counter arguments are that camping gives considerable pleasure, is now long established and can make a major financial contribution to the upkeep of the Forest. Many argue that the camp sites and other facilities with large concentrations of staying visitors should be removed from the Open Forest. One way forward would be to carry out environmental studies of the current provision of major facilities of this type and ensure that campsites are located in areas which are robust enough to cope with the visitor impact and link up with transport and access arrangements.
4.5.8. Visitor accommodation is widely distributed across the Forest, with some concentration in Lyndhurst and also in the southern part of the Forest to take advantage of access to the sea. Visitor attractions are generally located towards the outer edge of the New Forest. The volume of activity from sites in close proximity to sensitive habitat may contribute to excessive wear and affect the quality of habitat. The degree of damage will depend on the nature and level of use, for example, if a site promotes active recreation or allows dogs on site, the degree of damage or disturbance could be relatively high. This is considered in more detail in Chapter 5.
4.5.9. Everyone involved with tourism has an important role to play in the management of the Forest especially in supporting conservation objectives. The local tourism industry has been adapting to the needs of the Forest by working with New Forest District Council's Tourism Service. Key issues for local tourism were highlighted in the public consultation document 'Living with the Enemy ?' prepared by the New Forest District Council. These are generally applicable across the whole Forest and are:-
4.5.10. The 'Living with the Enemy ?'consultation exercise was New Forest District Council's first step in developing a district-wide tourism and visitor strategy which will work within the framework established by this Strategy and the Structure and Local Plans.
- The role of partnership and management in the creation of sustainable tourism which respects the Forest's needs.
- The creation of an environment in which visitors feel welcome and accept Forest messages.
- The employment and economic importance of serviced accommodation and high quality visitor facilities in appropriate locations.
- Reduction in the impact of day visitors.
- The positive role that tourism can play in maintaining local amenities and services.
- The relationship between tourism, transportation and access.
4.5.11. Tourism is a complex activity involving many organisations, agencies, businesses and individuals. The tourism and visitor strategy will provide the means to bring these different interests together for the benefit of tourism and the New Forest as a whole.
Strategic Objective To foster the concept that the New Forest is a special place devoted to conservation and quiet enjoyment. [S04.5i]
Strategic Objective To ensure that tourism remains an important but not dominant component of the New Forest economy and makes a positive contribution to the conservation of the New Forest. [S04.5ii]
Strategic Objective To ensure that the marketing and management of tourism reflects the objectives of the strategy for recreation. [S04.5iii]
4.6. National and Regional Demands
- Identify good practice in sustainable tourism and foster partnership in its development, through liaison with commercial interests and the local community. [RA4.5a]0
- Undertake environmental studies of major campsite and self-catering accommodation provision within the New Forest. [RA4.5b]0
- Ensure that a New Forest Tourism and Visitor Strategy is prepared, within the framework of A Strategy for the New Forest. [RA4.5c]
4.6.1. Development in the New Forest is controlled in accordance with Government guidance for National Parks, see also 1.4.2.
4.6.2. In National Parks development is only permitted which is irrefutably in the national interest and cannot be located elsewhere. This is often referred to as the 'Silkin Test'. Broadly speaking attitudes towards development in the Forest have met the spirit of this principle, although pressure remains for mineral extraction, waste disposal and highway construction. Much of the threat to the Forest is, however, external to its boundaries.
4.6.3. The New Forest lies between two major and vibrant population centres on the South coast. The South East in general has seen rapid expansion in urban development in the last 50 years. Nearly 23% of the South East is now urbanised and predictions show that if current rates of development continue, this will rise to over 30% by the year 2050 (The Lost Land, CPRE 1992).
4.6.4. The Hampshire County Structure Plan approved in 1993, seeks to control the level of housing development and consequent population increase in areas surrounding the New Forest. The New Forest District Local Plan specifically excludes the development of green field sites with the exception of existing allocations of land. Proposals in the Test Valley Borough Local Plan and the Salisbury District Local Plan which are in close proximity to the New Forest are modest and seek only to meet local needs. The New Forest Committee take the view that within the New Forest Heritage Area only housing to meet local needs should be permitted. Outside the Heritage Area, further housing development intended to meet general sub-regional needs (i.e. wider needs than those of the New Forest communities) should not be developed in locations where this will have an adverse impact upon the New Forest Heritage Area. This issue is being addressed through the Review of the County Structure Plan.
4.6.5 Structures which are associated with power and communications are generally incompatible with landscapes of national and international importance.
4.6.6. The rapid growth of personal communications has implications for the countryside of the New Forest. Individually, masts may be well sited but can have a cumulative impact. The Government believes that competitive personal communications networks are in the national interest and that such networks will become obsolete in the next century and could be removed.
4.6.7. As pylons forming part of the National Grid network come to an end of their physical life, there may be opportunities to review how they are sited in nationally important landscapes. The national utility authorities should be urged to consider alternative arrangements for major routes which recognise the importance of the New Forest. Where the local network is deemed unsightly, an appraisal of the relative merits of undergrounding cables should be sought, bearing in mind that ground disturbance may affect drainage and habitat.
4.6.8. The accumulation of infrastructure in terms of masts, pylons,reservoirs, etc. can have an impact on the landscape. This may bereduced by co-ordinating the demand for new facilities. There may beadvantages in identifying corridors into which such demands arechannelled.
4.6.9. Much of the Forest is underlain by sand and gravel and considerable extraction has taken place within the New Forest. The protection afforded by the New Forest Acts and more particularly by Crown ownership has meant that extraction at any major scale has been limited to its outer edges.
4.6.10. Most sites within the Forest will be completed within the next ten years and generally have effective restoration programmes. There are a number of much older sites which have not benefited from restoration. In some cases these sites have restored themselves and regeneration of native species hides what was once an active pit. However, natural regeneration has not been universal and if these areas are to be satisfactorily integrated into the management of the landscape and habitat of the Forest, their progress needs to be monitored and, where appropriate, influenced.
4.6.11. The Forestry Commission have partially restored areas of heathland formerly covered by wartime concrete. These 'secondary' aggregates, created from the old concrete have value in the construction market. The continued removal of most of these former hardstandings should be pursued as a means of restoring the New Forest landscape and habitat. There is some argument for the retention of some wartime artifacts for their historic value and because they provide robust surfaces for recreational purposes.
4.6.12. Provisions contained within the Hampshire County Minerals and Waste Local Plans prevent the exploration for and extraction of oil and natural gas within the Hampshire parts of the New Forest. Similar policies to these should also find application within the Wiltshire part of the New Forest.
To ensure that the New Forest is not adversely affected by national and regional development demands which are out of sympathy with the traditional landscape. [S04.6]
- Oppose development likely to adversely affect the Forest [RA4.6a]
- Work with the public utility companies to ensure that the impact of major structures on landscape is minimised and where appropriate they are removed [RA4.6b]
- Ensure Government guidelines on planning policy for National Parks is reflected in planning policies for the New Forest [RA4.6c]
CHAPTER 5 ENJOYING THE FOREST
Appended image: Our aim is to ensure the use of the Forest for tourism and recreation does not prejudice the quality of its traditional character or the pursuit of quiet enjoyment.
5.1. The Pattern of Recreation
5.1.1. The New Forest is widely valued for its ancient woods, open heathland and freely roaming ponies and attracts millions of visitors who come each year to appreciate the many unique features that the Forest has to offer. As a recreational resource the New Forest provides a variety of attractions, experiences and facilities. Many visitors come to experience peace and quiet in what is one of the last areas of 'wilderness' within the highly urbanised south east corner of Britain. Others come to appreciate the coastline or visit one of the major attractions such as the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu or Exbury Gardens. For others it provides open countryside where they can carry out a variety of recreational pursuits. The Forest is nationally renowned for its camping and each year approx. 2.25 million visitors stay in the Forest's self-serviced accommodation (Ecotec, 1992). As the New Forest becomes ever more accessible to the expanding population of the south east, the visitor numbers continue to rise. In 1992 over 7 million visits were made to the New Forest (Ecotec, 1992).
5.1.2. In comparison with other nationally important landscapes, the New Forest is more intensively visited than five of the National Parks (Countryside Commission, 1993). In conservation terms the relative pressure on the New Forest's internationally important habitats can be considered amongst the highest in the land. The volume of visitors also has an impact on highways and community facilities.
5.1.3. A policy of meeting all recreational demand as it arises would not be consistent with the priority which must be accorded to the conservation of the Forest. The challenge is to match recreational use and enjoyment to the sustainable capacity of the Forest. This is likely to involve a combination of information and education, influencing recreational patterns through management, providing alternative attractions outside of the Forest, and regulation. This will need to be achieved without damage to landscape, habitat and the local community, whilst maintaining the quality of the experience.
5.1.4. A recent survey showed that nearly 40% of all trips were made by holiday makers staying within the Forest (Ecotec, 1992). In addition, 2.2 million (31%) trips were made by local residents and a similar number were made by day visitors from elsewhere. Further evidence about the volume and characteristics of visitors to the New Forest will be available from a survey conducted by all the National Parks of England and Wales, the Broads and the New Forest in 1994.
5.1.5. The local communities in the Waterside parishes, the southern coastal towns and communities close to the western and northern edges of the Forest are significant generators of recreational trips, many of which are of short duration and very local to home. The major communities of Southampton and Bournemouth/Poole provide the bulk of the New Forest's day visitors. Improved accessibility via the M3 and the A34 now put 15 million people within a day's trip of the New Forest.
5.1.6. Assessing the rate of change in numbers visiting the New Forest has proved difficult, although some information is available from the major attractions, car park surveys and camp site information. The New Forest Sport and Recreation Study (University of Portsmouth) will also offer some predictions on the scale of change in visitor numbers. The present picture would seem to indicate that the recession has prevented growth in the number of visits to large attractions, but some monitored car parks on the Forest have experienced an increase in use in recent years. There may also be some increase in the use of the smaller Forest car parks not currently being monitored.
5.1.7. The demands made on the Forest by visitors are changing over time. It is thought that visits to areas and facilities in the New Forest where no charges are made have substituted for the visiting of attractions. An end to recession may bring increased pressure for recreation. Some of these visitors may return to the attractions, but a predicted increase in leisure time is likely to lead to more visits to the Forest, particularly during off-peak periods of the year. Sunday is the most popular day for visiting the Forest, but the advent of Sunday trading has meant that adjacent major retail centres have now become active as recreation destinations on Sundays and this may have had some effect on the numbers visiting the Forest.
5.1.8. Visiting the New Forest is concentrated in the summer months but shows marked shoulder periods in the spring and autumn to view the foals and to see the autumn leaf colour. Recreational pressure may cause disturbance to wildlife at particularly sensitive times such as ground-nesting birds in the Spring and the deer rut in Autumn. The winter period is relatively quiet and it is believed that it allows the Forest to recover from the rigours of other seasons. The fabric of the Forest is at its most vulnerable in the Winter when a lack of vegetation binding the soil together can lead to poaching, erosion and gullying. The winter months can also provide some respite for local communities from traffic congestion. Any adjustment to the seasonal pattern of visiting the Forest will need to take these factors into account.
5.1.9. The level of traffic on the New Forest's roads has also increased, and while a proportion of this arises from local travel needs, it is thought that some of this increase is related to the growth in visitor numbers and an increase in the use of the car during the visit. Driving to and from the recreation site or simply touring the Forest is recognised as being part of the recreational experience.
5.1.10. Increases in the level of recreational use of the New Forest will, if unmanaged, lead to further pressure on the Forest's fragile landscape and habitat. There is a need to consider whether the Forest has some theoretical capacity to absorb visitors. In the meantime there is a need to adopt a precautionary principle in regard to growth and determine ways in which that growth can be limited or directed elsewhere.
5.1.11. Recreation within the New Forest can be split into three broad categories: visits to the New Forest's countryside for passive reasons; visits to the New Forest to pursue active recreation and visits to honeypots or attractions. Each of these imposes differing degrees of pressure on the Forest and has specific implications for management. Whereas some activities can be contained within existing management measures, others will require new management arrangements.
5.2 Passive Recreation
5.2.1. Many who visit the New Forest seek no more than to enjoy the quiet tranquillity of the Forest landscape. A significant proportion do not move more than 50 yards from their vehicles and will make for specific points such as toilets, information points or ice- cream vans. It has to be recognised that for many people 'quiet enjoyment' of the countryside means visiting popular sites. Although these concentrations of people are seen by some as an unacceptable burden on the New Forest, their overall effect in terms of wear and tear is often limited to the immediate area. Their contribution to traffic generation, however, is more significant. This type of visitor may be more influenced by the provision of alternative or substitute opportunities outside the New Forest. Passive recreation seekers tend to be attracted to water, intimate woodland landscapes, viewpoints and historical features. The identification of opportunities incorporating such features outside the New Forest and their development and implementation could have long term benefits.
5.3 Active Recreation
5.3.1. Active recreation is the spectrum of recreation where the potential for most conflict exists and where most management demands are made. The scale and distribution of active recreation is described in the New Forest Sport and Recreation Study 1995.
5.3.2. Within the Crown Lands active recreation is managed by the Forestry Commission, which licences activities conducted on an organised basis and regulates those undertaken on an individual basis. The Commission licences a wide range of activities, some of which make use of the extensive open nature of the New Forest, unrivalled in southern England. In general these activities create little conflict because the licensing system filters out those that are contentious. The Commission works to ensure that sensitive areas are avoided, but it is important that both they and English Nature keep the scale of licensed activity under review.
5.3.3. Beyond the Crown Lands individual landowners regulate organised recreation by charging. Some activities such as motocross, paint ball games and car boot sales often operate below a level which requires planning permission, but still lead to noise and nuisance and have raised concerns both with local residents and on environmental grounds. The inclusion of the New Forest within the planning regime applied to National Parks, should ensure greater control over the use of land for organised recreational activities which are considered disruptive to the quiet enjoyment of the countryside. The recreational use of land which is otherwise of little intrinsic value, provides valuable additional income to the landowner. However, any proposals must ensure that there is no adverse affect on landscape, habitat and tranquillity.
5.3.4. Active recreation carried out on an individual basis is much more difficult to manage and regulate. Co-operation between statutory and non-statutory organisations is needed to create a coherent approach which extends to the whole of the New Forest. Individually, the effect of one person's recreation activity on the Forest may be small. It is when many individuals carry out activities in the same place that the effects first become noticeable and then critical. That is not to say that one individual acting without thought cannot have a major impact on the most sensitive of habitats. The process of education of individuals in this respect remains vital to the continued protection of sensitive areas.
5.3.5. New activities can develop rapidly and they are often seen as a threat to traditional uses and enjoyment, as has been the case with off road cycling. Some activities may grow rapidly, reach a plateau and then fade away. In each case the relevant body will often need to develop a rapid response which is directed at that activity. Integration with other activities and environmental considerations must also be considered. Provision for many of these activities will need to be planned on a regional basis.
5.3.6. In numerical terms the most popular active pastime is walking. Sheer numbers can cause erosion, and concern has been expressed about the progressive deterioration of vegetation in the vicinity of car parks. On the Open Forest it is possible to wander at will, subject to the Forestry Commission bylaws. There is no direction of walkers, although many tracks exist and are widely followed. Introducing a signing system to direct walkers to specific paths would be inappropriate in the Open Forest, but assists in the channelling of visitors in the inclosures and Ancient and Ornamental Woodlands along established tracks. Way-marked walks in selected forested locations might help to draw walkers away from the sensitive parts of the Open Forest.
5.3.7. The Local Authorities publish advice on using the Solent Way and the Avon Valley Path, both of which offer alternatives to walking on the Open Forest. The rights of way network administered by Hampshire and Wiltshire County Councils is confined to the enclosed lands and is not well related to the central parts of the New Forest. A fully integrated rights of way network could have two functions, firstly to deliver the walker from home to the New Forest without using the car, and secondly to offer alternatives to walking on the Forest by providing a good selection of paths close to home. In view of the high incidence of local recreational users, priority should be given to develop these footpath networks. In this way pressure could be reduced on sensitive habitats.
5.3.8. Concern has been expressed about dog walking on the Open Forest and its impact on wildlife. Dog walkers are progressively being excluded from nearby beaches and playing fields on health grounds and are thought to use the Forest as an alternative. This is a growing problem and one which requires a co-ordinated response involving the Local Authorities in and around the Forest.
5.3.9. Horse Riding has been considered by the Forestry Commission in its report 'Horse Riding in the New Forest', and by the New Forest Committee in 'Recreational Use of Horses in the New Forest Heritage Area' (Royal Agricultural College, 1994). The former deals with physical impact on the New Forest. The latter sets out to examine the total numbers of horses, their impact on the pastoral landscape of the enclosed lands and matters associated with planning and welfare. The report could not ascertain whether there was any growth in the number of horses using the Forest, but did detect structural changes in the activity which seem to be putting riding pressure at principal access points to the Open Forest. A review of the bridleway network on the enclosed lands together with possible permissive paths, may help identify alternatives to riding on sensitive areas of Open Forest.
5.3.10. The Forestry Commission's report has led to an improved relationship with the riding community, although the matter of licensing still remains to be resolved. Tracks have been improved and an information service for riders has been provided. There needs, however, to be a balance between the scale of provision and the conservation of the traditional character of the New Forest.
5.3.11. Cycling, particularly off road cycling or mountain biking has seen major growth in recent years.
5.3.12. Off road cycling, if unconstrained, enables deep penetration of the remoter parts of the New Forest. The Forestry Commission's management scheme of restricting cyclists to identified tracks is designed to prevent this, but the process of education needs to be carried further and enforcement needs to be more evident.
5.3.13. The Forest contains a wide variety of 'C' class roads and bridleways, many of which are particularly suitable for recreational cycling.
5.3.14. The popularity of cycling has given rise to several small businesses in the New Forest. These are important suppliers of information as well as spare parts, and need to be brought into the New Forest's education and information system.
5.3.15. Organised events are sometimes held on privately owned land on the periphery of the Forest and can cause concern amongst local people as a result of traffic and tannoy noise. As yet, no major landowner has made provision for off road cycling on privately owned land and indeed it will not prove competitive while it remains a free activity on the Forest.
5.3.16. In securing quiet enjoyment, it is accepted that motorised sport has no place in the New Forest. There may be more suitable locations outside the area which could be used for these activities.
Formal Recreation Sites
5.3.17. The New Forest contains a number of formal active recreation sites. An assessment of their impact upon the Forest will be made in the 'New Forest Sport and Recreation Study'. The Study will examine the extent and use of golf courses and sports pitches, particularly those where there is a conflict between sport and Open Forest grazing.
Traditional and Non-Traditional Activities
5.3.1 8. Any degree of priority to be given to traditional recreational pursuits over non-traditional recreation must be carefully considered. Some consider that traditional activities of walking, riding, hunting, fishing and shooting are totally acceptable in the New Forest and contribute to its traditional character. Others find the latter three are in conflict to some extent with the management for conservation purposes. To enable good management, data on the impact of activities must be collected over time so that impact and trends can be established and informed decisions made about future management options for these activities.
5.3.19. New activities such as off road cycling make demands upon the New Forest which often affect other activities. Where these new activities are small in scale they are usually accommodated, providing they are not noisy, dangerous or damaging.5.4
5.4.1. Approximately 1.5 million (22%) of visits to the New Forest (Ecotec, 1992) are made to permanent attractions in the New Forest. These include the large attractions of Beaulieu and Paultons, as well as a number of smaller attractions such as Longdown Dairy Farm and Furzey Gardens. The facilities on offer vary widely, some are capable of absorbing a whole day visit, whilst others provide entertainment for only part of the day. Some sites such as the New Forest Museum and Visitor Centre are an integral part of visiting the New Forest - others such as the Motor Museum at Beaulieu have few Forest credentials but over time have become synonymous with the area. Where attractions are sited away from the main centres of population they draw traffic across the New Forest, often on unsuitable minor roads. Any expansion of recreational attractions likely to generate large increases in traffic is considered inappropriate.
5.4.2. On the coast, Lepe and Calshot act as attractions with the specific purpose of giving access to the water's edge. While the New Forest contains over 12 miles of coastline, there are few, if any, opportunities to provide intensive recreation on coastal sites.
5.4.3. Some of the New Forest villages also act as significant visitor attractions. Improving facilities within certain villages may help to develop a recreational resource attractive to visitors, help to sustain village businesses and offer an alternative to recreation on the Open Forest. Car parking and the movement of traffic can limit their capacity to absorb visitors in the high season and the layout of each village is not always conducive to a good recreational experience, either in terms of the mix of pedestrians and traffic or the facilities provided. Modifying the villages to accommodate more visitors may affect their character. However, experience elsewhere, particularly in Fordingbridge, has shown that a comprehensive approach to enhancement can offer major benefits to local communities. This is unlikely to increase the throughput of visitors in the Summer months, but might help communities to cope more easily with visitors during busy times.
5.5. Remote Areas
5.5.1. The New Forest is one of the few 'wild' areas remaining in the south east and a sense of peace and remoteness is an important element of this. While many areas of the Forest have retained a sense of wilderness, in some places these qualities have been diluted as a result of recreational pressures and traffic. Both the number of people visiting the area and the infrastructure required to accommodate them, such as car parks and campsites, can have a marked affect on these qualities. There are also very few places in the Forest where one cannot hear the distant hum of traffic, particularly from the main 'A: roads which cross the Forest. Traffic not only affects the quiet enjoyment of peaceful areas but vehicle emissions can also affect wildlife.
5.5.2. It is important that remote areas are identified so that measures can be taken to protect the often intangible qualities of tranquillity and remoteness. The Countryside Commission and the Council for the Protection of Rural England are currently producing a national map of 'tranquil areas' where policies can be targeted to ensure the protection of these qualities. The Forestry Commission 'Conservation Areas' embody some of the criteria which could be used to determine the Remote Areas concept. The function of remote areas would be to limit or reduce traffic access in order that important areas of habitat and landscape remain undisturbed. This and other types of zoning needs to be investigated, so that visitor distribution and traffic levels may be considered for the whole of the New Forest area.
5.6 Alternative Attractions
5.6.1. Major attractions outside the Forest could help to direct visitor pressure away from the New Forest by offering an alternative recreational experience. Siting is important if they are to fulfil this role. Drawing people across the Forest on minor roads is not acceptable and opportunities on the Forest edges for major new provision are limited. It would be more appropriate to seek the assistance of neighbouring areas in the provision of large scale recreation. These may be country parks or other focused recreational opportunities which fall within the same market for recreation as the New Forest. A proposal to create a country park at Tanners Brook between Southampton and the M27 would be of major benefit to the New Forest, as would further or extended provision to the north of the Bournemouth/Poole conurbation, fulfilling a similar role to Moors Valley Country Park. The Millennium Proposal to reconstitute the Forests of Bere and Eversley may also attract visitors as an alternative to the New Forest.
5.7. Improving Local Recreational Opportunities
5.7.1. Local recreational needs form an important sector of demand which is difficult to divert elsewhere. There are some opportunities to meet these needs within or close to the New Forest, particularly through the improvement of public open space and the rights of way network. Rights of Way in Hampshire are managed by the County's Countryside and Community Department and in Wiltshire by the Planning and Highways Department. The improvement and adaptation of the rights of way network in relatively close proximity to the smaller urban centres around the Forest offers some opportunity to absorb local recreational users who might alternatively visit the Forest. Attractive presentation of such opportunities might also encourage visitors to use rights of way and guided trails. Other initiatives include proposals recognised in the New Forest District Local Plan at Blashford Lakes and Testwood Lakes for countryside recreation.
5.8. A Framework for Recreation
5.8.1. The New Forest Committee have identified an overall framework which focuses effort on managing the distribution of recreation so it respects the needs of the Forest landscape and habitats.
Strategic Objective To ensure that the seasonal and spatial distribution of recreation does not compromise the traditional character of the New Forest. [S05.8i] Strategic Objective To ensure that the management of active recreation is conducted in a way which avoids damage to landscape and habitat, and does not adversely affect the practise of Commoning or quiet enjoyment of the countryside. [S05.8ii]
Strategic Objective To oppose the major expansion of recreational attractions capable of generating large increases in traffic in the Forest. [S05.8iii]
Strategic Objective To ensure that villages favoured by visitors offer a high quality recreational experience. S05.8iv]
Strategic Objective To ensure that optimum use should be made of the potential of recreational sites beyond the New Forest to help to reduce visitor pressure within it. [S05.8v]
Strategic Objective To sustain and enhance the sense of remoteness created by the landscape of the New Forest. [S05.8vi]
Strategic Objective To extend and enhance the local recreation network including public open space and rights of way . [S05.8vii]
5.9. Pricing as a Management Tool
- Investigate and progress new opportunities for passive recreation in the enclosed lands at the outer edges of the New Forest. [RA5.8a]0
- Identify indicators to evaluate the affect of recreational pressure on the traditional character of the New Forest, including busy and quiet seasons. [RA5.8b]a
- Keep under review options for managing the number and distribution of visitors to the area. RA5.8c]0
- Review recreation activities in the light of the Sport and Recreation Study. Damaging activities should be managed to reduce their impact to acceptable levels. [RA5.8d]
- Seek to improve recreational opportunities in the New Forest villages favoured by visitors. [RA5.8e]0 Identify 'remote areas' in the New Forest and take appropriate steps to protect them. [RAS.8f]0 Investigate with adjoining Local Authorities, provision for recreation capable of reducing pressure on the New Forest. [RA5.8g]
- Identify and promote the local rights of way network for local use. [RA5.8h]56
5.9.1. The application of a pricing mechanism to Forest-based recreation could help to direct pressure away from the more sensitive parts of the Forest and help create the necessary resources for active management. While use of the Forest remains 'free', it will attract visitors and users at the expense of sites elsewhere in the region where charging has been introduced.
5.9.2. Charging is applied at commercial sites and for car parks in coastal locations. The Forestry Commission charge for visits to camp sites and this provides a very significant proportion of the Commission's income in the New Forest. They also charge for car- parking at the Reptiliary and for special events and activities; the Commission however, do not generally charge for the use of their other car parks. New Forest District Council at present do not charge for parking in the towns and villages so as to encourage the use of local shops. The application of charges in one location could have a substantial impact on its use and that of surrounding facilities.
5.9.3. Income from campsites is used to help meet the Forestry Commission's expenditure on maintaining the Open Forest, car parks and other facilities. Consideration should be given to whether users should directly pay for the costs of conservation and recreation. The Forestry Commission nationally has a policy of free access on foot and this will be maintained in the future. Access to the Crown Lands is perceived to be free and part of their traditional character. Many visitors are willing to pay something for their recreational experience, even though they already pay for the New Forest through taxation.
5.9.4. In National Parks, Central government makes a contribution towards running costs through supplementary grants, although National Park bodies also raise income through car parking charges and charging for specific recreational activities.
5.9.5. The use of pricing as both a management tool and as a means of contributing towards the conservation of the Forest needs to be researched. A sensitive and considered approach will be necessary.
Strategic Objective To consider options for the management of recreation in the New Forest by fiscal means. [S05.9]
5. 10. Information and Education
- Determine whether the introduction of parking charges would be an effective tool in the management of visitors to the New Forest. [RA5.9a]
5.10.1. The communication of ideas and information is essential in ensuring the successful implementation of any strategy. Basic messages about the importance of the landscape and habitat and the relative roles of recreation, settlement and the local economy need to be transmitted not only to the visitor, but also to local residents. However, it is important that this information does not encourage more people to visit the New Forest. If viewed as allies and made to feel welcome, people will respond more positively to the needs of the New Forest, persuasion is generally considered to be more effective than prohibition. (Touchstone Brown Associates, 1989).
5.10.2. The Forestry Commission has a comprehensive array of signs and information to meet the needs of visitors. New Forest District Council very actively pursue the delivery of key messages essential to the management of the Forest, through a wide range of printed material and the operation of Visitor Information Centres at Lyndhurst, Lymington. and Ringwood and through such features as the 'New Forest Encounter'. There is little comparable information beyond the Crown Lands, except that for very specific purposes provided by the District and County Councils, the National Trust and individual landowners. Through their Information Working Group, the New Forest Committee has sought to standardise messages and create a common approach to delivery. As part of this process a corporate logo was created, although this is not as yet widely used.
5.10.3. Private landowners are concerned that open access associated with the Crown Lands will be perceived by the public as also applying to their land. It is important that the needs of private landowners and the community are recognised in the development of a signing and information regime for the New Forest.
5.10.4. The Forest is widely used as an educational resource. Member organisations receive large numbers of student enquiries every year and are pleased to help where this leads to a greater understanding of the Forest and its needs. A series of student factfiles are being developed to help provide this information.
5.10.5. The Forest contains a number of centres which provide opportunities for field study. All of these lie in the southern part of the Forest and range from the comprehensive educational services provided at Beaulieu and Avon Tyrrell to other centres which provide accommodation and opportunities for study, but no specific teaching facilities. These sites provide a valuable service and need to be encouraged to deliver appropriate Forest messages. The New Forest Committee's Education Working Group provides a forum for educational providers to develop a common approach.
5.10.6. The Forestry Commission provide a comprehensive education service through their Education and Recreation Rangers who are responsible for getting New Forest messages across to the public both in the field and in the classroom. Their activities extend more widely than the education of school children and they have produced a wide variety of educational material. The New Forest Museum at Lyndhurst maintains an Education Officer who concentrates on social and cultural aspects of the Forest. Other initiatives, particularly those involving inter-active media, offer exciting prospects for the delivery of information.
Mechanisms For Delivery
5.10.7. Mechanisms for delivery of information vary according to need and purpose and cover a whole range of media. Broadly these include the printed word, signage, display, film and radio. The Forest is often featured on television and video. Every opportunity should be taken to convey positive New Forest messages.
5.10.8. Individual agencies create specific pieces of print to meet their purposes. Some of this is educational material and in the case of the 'New Forest Map' and the 'New Forest Guide', has been created jointly by contributing agencies. Both New Forest District Council and the Forestry Commission create a wide range of printed material to meet management needs. It is important to co-ordinate information provision within the framework of the Strategy.
5.10.9. The New Forest is the subject of a wide range of print from private sources. Much of this material extends messages of what to do and where to go, which has implications for management. Most authors now make reference to the relevant managing body before they publish, but not all convey messages which are helpful. It would be useful to endorse those which extend appropriate messages and if necessary respond to those that do not.
5.10.10. The printed word, together with the images conveyed by film and broadcasting, have the power to attract visitors to the New Forest. If the Forest is at capacity in terms of the number of visitors, then it is important that literature should be informative and not promotional and only distributed within the New Forest area. The difficulty then remains that private publishers are not so constrained in their marketing. Constructive efforts should be made to promote the Forest's needs to commercial publishers so as to influence they way it is presented in their publications. There is a need to examine whether distribution of New Forest material significantly affects the volume of visitors to the Forest.
5.10.11. Hampshire County Council has actively promoted and implemented comprehensive signing of the 40 mph zone and has developed a system of 'gateway' signs at the Open Forest entrances to highlight the point beyond which special driving conditions apply. This will be developed further through the Transportation Working Group, see also 5.11. The Forestry Commission has a wide ranging and corporate signing system which is traditional and deliberately low key. Possibilities to integrate these two and other signing systems need to be fully investigated.
5.10.12. Many of the highway signs are of standard design and considered not to adequately reflect the special nature of the New Forest. Where appropriate, these are to be replaced and the opportunity should be taken to consider all signing in the landscape, removing as many separate signs as possible commensurate with adequately conveying important information.
5.10.13. The New Forest District Council and the Forestry Commission have produced guidance for commercial signs in the countryside. This together with Local Plan policies should create new standards for commercial signs in the countryside. Long standing signs might be improved or removed by negotiation. Limiting the spread of new signs and making them relevant to their location is important, in particular limiting 'brown signs' to giving direction only from the nearest settlement. As yet there is no signage programme to identify the outer boundary of the New Forest. It will be important to fix the extent of this boundary in the minds of both residents and visitors.
Strategic Objective To ensure that through a common approach, the public are informed and educated about the special nature of the New Forest, but that it is not promoted as a place to visit at peak or sensitive periods.[S05.10i]
Strategic Objective To ensure that the provision of information is in keeping with the traditional character of the New Forest. [S05.10ii]
TRAFFIC, TRANSPORT AND ACCESS
- Stimulate the creation of a range of informative and educative material which support strategy objectives. [RA5.10a]0
- Create and support a network for education providers which will enhance the New Forest learning experience for residents and visitors of all ages. [ [RA5.1 Ob]0
- Review existing signs, set signing standards and develop a strategy for implementation. I [RA5.10c]59
5.11.1. Planning for the transportation needs of communities, be they urban or rural, has undergone radical change in recent years. Government guidance, as reflected in Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) 13 and Regional Planning Guidance (RPG) 9 now promotes the development of integrated transport systems and greater co-ordination between land-use planning and transportation planning.
5.11.2. There is greater awareness across all sections of the community that road building alone cannot solve present or future transport problems. This is particularly true in a special area like the New Forest where the impact of these roads on the environment and ecology of the Forest would be unacceptable. The recent problems associated with achieving agreement over the proposed Lyndhurst Bypass is a case in point. The future survival, prosperity and enhancement of the Forest environment as proposed in this Strategy, is to a large extent dependant upon the development and implementation of a viable and sustainable transportation strategy. Such a strategy, whilst offering and promoting alternative transport options to the private car, will need to recognise that the car is likely to remain the principal mode of transport for the residents of this predominantly rural area.
5.11.3. In 1989 the 'Highway Strategy' for the New Forest was approved. Through the introduction of a number of innovative measures, such as the Forest 40mph zone, the Highway Strategy has reduced accidents, particularly those involving stock animals, by up to one third. An integrated transportation strategy for the New Forest will build upon the attributes of the Highway Strategy but will go beyond road based solutions and will address issues not covered in the Highway Strategy.
5.12 Transport Issues
5.12.1. Travelling by car is important in meeting the day-to-day needs of the residents of the New Forest. In general terms the Forest 's roads meet its needs, but it is the added burden of recreational traffic which makes traffic a critical element of the management of the New Forest.
5.12.2. The volume of road traffic in the New Forest is a serious problem at various locations at certain times of the year. The 1989 Highway Strategy was based on the principle that the New Forest is a special place and motorists should drive accordingly. Measures to reduce speed are now in place, although a hierarchy of roads has not yet been fully implemented. Signing and maintenance were also considered, but not alternative modes of transport or the effects of access on landscape and habitat.
5.12.3 It is estimated that, nationally, traffic will increase by 142% on inter-urban roads in the next fifteen years. Whilst the A31 and A36 fall into this category and may experience substantial growth in traffic, this level of growth is unlikely to occur on minor forest roads. However, as these strategic roads become more congested there is a real possibility that traffic will divert onto minor Forest roads in an effort to avoid congestion, and that visitors looking for peace and quiet in the Forest will move deeper and deeper into previously undisturbed landscape.
5.12.4 The New Forest Transportation Strategy will develop County Structure Plan and Central Government policies and will also form part of the local planning process in progressing proposals through to implementation. It will identify a range of policies that will form the basis for a future 'package' submission to the Department of Transport in order to secure funding for implementation of specific measures. A Strategy for the New Forest will provide the framework for the Transportation Strategy which will seek to develop a transportation infrastructure designed to meet the diverse needs of the area's communities and the recreational demand, subject to environmental constraints.
5.13 Through Traffic
5.13.1. A number of through routes cross the area, carrying large volumes of traffic through the Forest. These can result in significant sources of air, noise and light pollution. Both the trunk and inter-urban roads are fenced and do not pose a significant threat to stock animals but continue to prove hazardous to deer and larger mammals and at certain times of the year to amphibians. Specific management proposals will need to have a clear understanding of the principal routeways used by these animals.
5.13.2. The impact of the A31 on the Forest is considerable as it effectively cuts the Forest in two. Visually, it is prominent on the skyline and traffic noise is evident over a wide area. The road is also a source of pollution by vehicle emissions. Schemes to widen the A31 have been proposed, which could have a serious impact on the Forest, but a general widening of the route has been withdrawn pending the Government's re- assessment of the nation's travelling needs. Although the A31 imposes itself on the Forest, it mainly meets the needs of through traffic and helps minimise the circulation of traffic within the Forest. It is important that through traffic is removed from the Forest and that direct access from the A31 is restricted to prevent a direct transition from high speed road to narrow unfenced roads roamed by stock animals.
5.13.3. The A36, linking Southampton with Bristol, is also a Trunk Road and runs through the north-eastern corner of the New Forest. Proposals to provide a bypass for West Wellow have been withdrawn. Road traffic accidents and a low standard of environment in the vicinity of the road are problems that remain to be solved.
5.14 Inter-Urban Roads
5.14.1. The network of inter-urban roads on the Forest has been mainly fenced from the Open Forest, but the relatively poor alignment and forward visibility has led to a number of serious accidents where vehicles have been travelling at speed. These routes, in particular at Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst are subject to congestion where traffic flow exceeds the carrying capacity of junctions or in the case of Brockenhurst, the carrying capacity of the railway level crossing. These inter-urban routes are very important to the distribution of traffic within the Forest and need to be seen as contributing to meeting the local transport needs. Improvements made to these roads need to take account of the traditional character of the Forest, but not increase their capacity so as to make them more attractive to through traffic.
5.15 The Minor Road System
5.15.1. The character of the minor road system varies widely. In some cases it acts as an important route between Forest-edge settlements and the national highway network, but more generally it is a local distribution network meeting local needs. However, these roads are heavily used during the Summer by visitors seeking recreational destinations. The system at present has to meet both these needs.
5.15.2. A major feature of the Open Forest is that most minor roads are unfenced and open to stock animals and deer. The Highway Strategy has been addressing the problem of animal accidents and a 40mph speed limit zone has been implemented. This innovative approach has enjoyed initial success and has now being copied elsewhere in the country. However, recent figures suggest that the designation of the speed limit is not enough and that the regulations must be enforced and the driving public continually reminded of its importance.
5.15.3. A majority of the accidents occurring on the Forest are on 'B' classified roads which are often of a standard to permit relatively high speed and are much used by commuters crossing the Forest. Most accidents occur at night and the majority of accidents involve drivers living within the locality. Within the New Forest communities such as Burley, where there is pedestrian as well as animal activity on minor roads, there may be a case for reducing the speed limit still further.
5.15.4. The minor roads provide access to the wider and deeper Forest. The 1989 Highway Strategy proposed the closure of a small number of lightly used roads within the Perambulation, mainly on the grounds that they duplicated others. Closure of roads which would inconvenience residents was resisted. The closure of roads and car parks would be an effective tool in managing the distribution of visitors to the Forest and in the creation of remote areas. There may be opportunities to limit the use of some minor roads for access only, thereby limiting the use of the road to essential traffic or to riding and cycling. The complete closure of some lengths of road may be desirable to achieve remote areas, see also 5.5. Other initiatives such as park and ride may also be considered.
5.16 Car Parking
5.16.1. The provision of car parking, particularly free parking, exerts a powerful influence upon travel choice. The fact that the Forest does provide a significant number of free car parking spaces has, and will continue to have a direct impact on the number of trips made to the area by car.
5.16.2. The Forestry Commission maintain 142 car parks on the Crown Lands, capable of accommodating 5,200 cars (1995 figs.). In addition New Forest District Council maintains car parks at Lyndhurst, Burley, Beaulieu and Brockenhurst and Hampshire County Council maintains one at Lepe Country Park. Elsewhere in the New Forest there are a number of informal parking areas related to minor countryside recreation sites, which have no formal maintenance or recognition. These sites could be identified more positively and contribute to parking provision, especially in less sensitive locations. There may also be some opportunities to create small car parks in new locations in the outer edges of the Forest, perhaps associated with guided trails.
5.16.3. The management regime currently adopted by the Forestry Commission arises from the report 'Conservation of the New Forest 1970', which sought an end to indiscriminate parking and created 26 'Car Free' Areas. The approach was one of dispersal and provided opportunities for people to continue to enjoy the type of recreation that they had become accustomed to in the New Forest. The purpose-built car parks channel visitors away from the more sensitive areas of the Forest and differ widely in size. Generally they are designed to be inconspicuous from the highway, but this often means that they are at some distance from the metalled road. Car parks in the more remote locations may increase the degree of disturbance, relatively speaking, and be more prone to theft and unsociable behaviour.
5.16.4. The dispersal approach was endorsed in the 'Report of the New Forest Review Group, 1987', which recommended closure of some lightly used sites and some increases at the most popular sites. The Forestry Commission have extended this process in their 'Car Parking in the New Forest, 1995', which uses the Rhinefield Drive area as a case study.
5.16.5. As has been indicated elsewhere, the opening and closing of car parks is one of the most useful management tools available. The future strategy for car parking is undeniably tied into the general strategy for landscape conservation and recreation. The introduction of car parking charges may be one way of placing a value on a trip to the New Forest and through this reducing visitor numbers.
5.16.6. The distribution of private vehicles within the Forest could be further influenced by demand management pricing as mentioned in 5.9 or innovative traffic management. Such schemes may include park and ride schemes which would help to limit the penetration of the Forest by the car.
5.16.7. A major criterion for developing a park and ride scheme is the existence of a large area of land, where cars can be parked close to a principal highway. Within the New Forest it might be difficult to visually justify the use of a large area of land for car parking. A rigorous assessment of potential opportunities needs to be undertaken in relation to any park and ride scheme.
5.17 Public Transport
5.17.1. The rural nature of the New Forest mitigates against it being well served by public transport. A primary feature of public transport in the New Forest is the railway which offers a frequent service to Brockenhurst, with connections to Lymington. Services to Ashurst, Beaulieu Road, Sway and Hinton Admiral, which all lie within the New Forest are comparatively little used either for general travel needs or for purposes connected with recreation. The stations at Totton and New Milton are close to, but outside the New Forest, and are primarily concerned with meeting the local travel needs of residents. A freight line on which a light rail, rapid transit scheme has been proposed, threads its way along the eastern edge of the New Forest. This longer term proposal may provide opportunities for public transport linkages with the Forest.
5.17.2. Bus services mostly operate at no more than an hourly frequency between urban centres. A more frequent service exists along the Waterside parishes; extensions of these services to Calshot and Lepe help to meet peak summer demands. In most cases services providing for recreational needs are incidental. Few services are truly rural, i.e. designed to meet needs of the rural communities, and it is often difficult to travel between settlements within the Forest, e.g. Burley to Brockenhurst.
5.17.3. Hampshire County Council have financed services on Sundays as part of their' Sunday Rider' project to promote recreational use. A service in the northern part of the Forest which offered Forest recreational opportunities on a Sunday has been withdrawn in favour of a route which serves Sunday supermarket trading. There is a need to create initiatives which respond to the needs of those coming to the Forest from the West and North and across county boundaries.
5.17.4. In 1994, the New Forest Committee helped publish the first comprehensive timetable for the New Forest. The timetable was well received by residents and visitors. Apart from these initiatives, no other innovative schemes have been tried which deliberately target the New Forest. In general, the services to parts of the Forest which are attractive to visitors are very limited. For example, there are no buses which follow the Ornamental Drive. Burley is not served on Sundays and Lyndhurst can only be reached from the west on a Sunday via a convoluted route. These matters were recognised in the report 'Public Transport Access in the New Forest', presented to the New Forest Committee in 1991.
5.17.5. There is limited scope for public transport to make a major difference to movement patterns and volumes in the New Forest, but opportunities should be investigated, including integration between services for example between bus and train at Brockenhurst.
5.18.1. Recreational cycling has been addressed in 5.3. It must be acknowledged that cycling to and within the Forest, provided that recognised routes are followed, offers a valuable alternative to the use of the private car. The County Council propose to improve cycling safety on the A35 between Ashurst and Lyndhurst, but the issue of safety needs to be more widely addressed, particularly on the A337 if cycling opportunities for the local community and visitors are to improve.
5.19 A Framework for Transportation The strategic objectives listed below provide a framework for an integrated transportation strategy for the New Forest.
Strategic Objective Ensure that the impact of traffic in the New Forest is does not adversely affect its traditional character, while respecting the needs of the local community. [S05.19i]
Strategic Objective Reduce the level and impact of through traffic on the New Forest. [S05.19ii]
Strategic Objective To ensure that the minor road system does not adversely affect the traditional character of the New Forest and provides maximum safety for stock animals and humans. [S05.19iii]
Strategic Objective To ensure that car parking policies support the Strategy for the New Forest. [S05.19iv]
Strategic Objective To increase opportunities to make trips by public transport which would otherwise be made by car. [S05.19v]
Strategic Objective Promote cycling as an alternative means of travel. [S05.19vi]
- To develop and secure the implementation of an integratedTransportation Strategy. [RA5.19a]0
- Encourage the Department of Transport to reduce the impact of the A31 and A36 upon the New Forest. [RA5.lgb]0
- Influence policy and proposals which affect the wider regional management of traffic. [RA5.lgc]0 To ensure the provision of sensitive engineering, lighting and signing standards for the New Forest. [RA5.19d]0
- Animal accidents to be kept under review and work continued to reduce animal accidents, e.g. campaigns, particularly aimed at local residents. [RAS.lge]&
- Examine and implement measures to improve safety in Forest villages.[RA5.lgf]0
- Investigate limiting the use of the minor road system and possible closure of non-essential links.[RA5.lgg]0
- Develop a strategy for car parking which links in with policies for recreation/tourism and transportation. [RA5.lgh]0
- Examine potential of park and ride and innovative traffic management schemes. [RA5.1 gi]0 Review outstanding recommendations of the report 'Public Transport Access into the New Forest'. [RA5.19]
- Increase awareness of and improve public transport in the New Forest. [RA5.lgk]0
- Examine opportunities to create innovative public transport schemes on experimental basis, including the provision of schemes from Dorset and Wiltshire.[RA5.191]0
- Provide for the needs of cyclists on New Forest roads, where appropriate. [RA5.1 gm]66
CHAPTER 6 IMPLEMENTING THE STRATEGY
6.1. This Strategy identifies a framework for action to secure the New Forest Committee's vision for the New Forest.
6.2. Work to be carried out on an annual basis will be identified in a detailed work programme which will be agreed at the beginning of April each year. This will include information about the tasks, targets and timescales and identify the lead organisations involved.
6.3. A rolling five year plan will set the framework for the detailed work programmes, allowing people to look ahead and identify ways in which their respective responsibilities and interests can be built into the more detailed annual work programmes.
6.4. Funding for implementation will need to be identified and deficiencies in existing resources quantified and addressed. Dealing with funding shortfalls is likely to include exploring European and National sources, sponsorship and other opportunities.
6.5. A monitoring programme will be set up to gauge the success of the work programme. Committee members already produce stewardship reports on an annual basis which detail work of interest to the New Forest Committee. An effective monitoring system will standardise this arrangement so that the progress of the Strategy can be charted.
6.6. Almost every Recommended Action implicitly requires monitoring but it is important that any monitoring is carried out at an appropriate level.
6.7. Decision making and monitoring need to be set against a baseline of high quality relevant information. Often information exists but is not readily accessible. Within the Forest there needs to be a central index of information and research material, to which all decision makers can have ready access. This could have a wider application in providing a useful source of material for student and general public inquires at all levels.
6.8. Management is a continuous process and the Strategy will need to be adapted to take account of changing circumstances and to respond to the monitoring process. It is therefore important that the Strategy should be periodically reviewed.
6.9. Widespread public understanding is vital to the success of the Strategy. By working together the New Forest Committee can ensure that information made available through the monitoring programme is made available to the public in an accessible and coherent form.
CHAPTER 7 REFERENCES
Agricultural Development Advisory Service. (1993) The Management of Agricultural Land within the New Forest Heritage Area.
Centre for Leisure Research. (1994) The All Parks Visitor Survey: Report of the Survey in the New Forest (Draft Report).Countryside Commission. (1992) General National Park Statistics. CCP230
Countryside Commission. (1994) The New Forest Commoners. CCP164
Countryside Commission. (1986) The New Forest Landscape. CCP20
Council for the Protection of Rural England. (1992) The Lost Land.
Department of the Environment and Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. (1995) Rural England - A Nation committed to a Living Countryside.
Ecotec Research and Consulting Ltd. (1992) Tourism in the New Forest 1991-1992. A Report on the Tourism Survey to the New Forest District Council, Southern Tourist Board and New Forest Tourism.
English Nature. (1992) The New Forest Heathlands, Grasslands and Mires: A Management Review and Strategy.
English Nature. (1994) The New Forest Heritage Area Survey.
Forestry Commission. (1992) Horse Riding in the New Forest - Consultation Draft.
Forestry Commission. (1993) Horse Riding in the New Forest - Interim Report.
Forestry Commission. (1993) New Forest Camping: A Review and Options for the Future.
Forestry Commission. (1994) Car Parking in the New Forest: A Case Study with Recommendations for Future Management.
Forestry Commission. (1992) Grazing in the New Forest : Government Response to the Report of the Illingworth Working Party.
Forestry Commission. (1995) New Forest Management Plan 1992-2001.Hampshire County Council. (1989) Highway Strategy for the New Forest.
Hampshire County Council. (1993) The Hampshire Landscape.
Hampshire Wildlife Trust. (1994) A Review of the Condition of a Sample of Field boundaries in the New Forest.
lllingworth, R. ed. (1991) Report of the Working Party on New Forest Grazing.
Ivey. J. (1991) Commoners of the New Forest: A Study Based on Census Data. Department of Sociology, University of Southampton.
Land Use Consultants. (1991) New Forest Heritage Area: Proposed Boundary. A Draft Report to the New Forest Committee, Lyndhurst.
Land Use Consultants. (1987) A Brief Assessment of the Enclosed Landscapes of the New Forest Heritage Area.
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. (1993) Agricultural Census Information - New Forest.
New Forest Committee. (1995) Student Factfile No 1.
New Forest District Council. (1994) New Forest District Local Plan. Discussion Papers.
New Forest District Council. (1995) Living with the Enemy? Towards a Tourism Strategy for the New Forest.
The New Forest Review Group. (1987) New Forest Review - Consultation Draft Report.
The New Forest Review Group. (1988) Report of the New Forest Review Group 1988
Royal Agricultural College and University of Bath. (1994) Recreational Use of Horses in the New Forest Heritage Area. Report to the New Forest Committee.
Touchstone Associates, John Brown and Company. (1989) The New Forest : A Strategy for Information and Interpretation.
Transport for Leisure Ltd. (1993) Public Transport Access to the New Forest: A Report for the Countryside Commission, The New Forest Committee and British Rail Network South East.
Tubbs, C.R. (1986) The New Forest. Collins
Tubbs, C. R. (1994) The Ecology of Pastoralism in the New Forest, Hampshire, England : A Review
University of Portsmouth. (1995) New Forest Sport and Recreation Study - Final Draft Report.70
Forest Home · Introduction · Forest Map · Research Link · Documents · About