Monday, 25 October 2010

The New Forest could be overgrown within two years

The New Forest Association (NFA) believes that the Crown Lands of the New Forest deserves the best management expertise the Government can offer. The delicate balance between commoning, conservation, recreation and commercial forestry is easily disturbed.

We do not believe that a private operator managing these state owned lands would be able to offer sufficient safeguards for the future sustainability of the New Forest. We are not only facing economic recession but also coming to terms with the impact of climate change upon the unique habitats. It is vital that whatever management expertise has been gained over the years and decades is retained for the benefit of the New Forest and the nation.

Loss of the commoners housing stock retained by the Forest Commission could result in major parts of the Forest becoming overgrown and inaccessible to the millions of visitors who come from all over the world.

There are many precedents for the New Forest being made a special case and we believe that this should happen now by allowing the status quo to continue thereby ensure the future viability and health of these internationally important lands.

To this end we would ask those wielding the axe to not take precipitive action, but to take advice and think long and hard before making any decision which could have appalling long term effects on this special place which is so close to the hearts of millions of their constituents

William Ziegler


New Forest Association


The New Forest Association was formed in 1867 to ensure that the Forest was not enclosed and lost to the nation. The resulting New Forest Act of 1877 was the first of a number of occasions when the New Forest had to receive special treatment to survive – Further information about the Association may be found at

In the light of recent press speculation about a sell off of 50% of Forestry Commission managed lands there needs to be good reason for retaining areas of national and international importance such as the New Forest. This Forest is the last major link with the Royal Forests of William the Conqueror, who introduced special laws to enable its survival as a hunting forest. Changing administrations in the 16th and 19th centuries caused huge unrest because of the upset to the balance between the various forces acting upon the lands. The key to the diversity and unique habits that form the New Forest is the grazing regime and mixture of bogs, woodlands and lowland heath that has evolved for the ponies and cattle to roam over. These animals are owned by commoners whose rights have been jealously protected since before the Norman invasion.

Virtually all commoners are part time small-holders who need to live in close proximity to the Forest with access to a small amount of back-up land. The Forestry Commission has a housing stock in the New Forest some of which is let to commoners and some used by their own officials, a number of whom graze stock themselves.

The New Forest Association (NFA)

The NFA, established in 1867, is one of the oldest conservation organisations in the world. It is an independent charity with over 900 members. Council for National Parks recognises NFA as the New Forest National Park society.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

New Chief Executive for the National Park.

At today's New Forest National Park Authority meeting, the new Chief Executive, Alison Barnes, was announced to the authority members by the current interim Chief Executive, Barrie Foley. "We have finally found someone who I believe is good for the Forest, she is very outward looking and is keen to engage with all parties."

Clive Chatters, Chair of the NFNPA, said: "I am delighted to welcome Alison as our new Chief Executive. She brings an ideal combination of professional and personal qualities to take us forward."

Alison is currently a Natural England Regional Director for London as the organisational lead on Landscape, Green Infrastructure, the Olympics and Thames Gateway. She is Chair of Greening the Gateway Partnership and a Commissioner for the Mayor’s London Sustainable Development Commission. Her career has also included roles with English Nature, Dumfries and Galloway Council and the RSPB in Scotland. She was born and bred near Wimborne, and still has family in Wimborne, Christchurch and Hangersley.

Barrie Foley, describing her qualifications for the role focussed on her ability to engage businesses and stakeholders on green infrastructure issues in complex situations:

"Coming from Natural England, of course she's got the Green credentials, but when she went through the interview process a lot of it was focussed on "is she right for the business going forward, is she right for the community", .... I thought she was right, as far as I'm concerned, engaging with the people, engaging with the communities, that's what's the key thing. Alison has not come from an easy environment, working in the area she works in London.

Fielding a Press question about whether her approach would be right for local business, Alison remarked:

"I absolutely believe that conservation and nature cannot be successful, in this day and age, at all, without bringing everything together with socio-economic issues. To some extent, that's why those issues come forward, because we haven't been successful in the past. And for me, it is only going to be successful, if those things can come together, because this isn't a museum, this is a living working place.

Alison will assume her role from June 1st. Barrie Foley will be on hand to assist her during a month long hand over period.