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Shake-up of New Forest camp sites and car parks in drive to ease recreational pressure on park



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NEW Forest campsites, car parks and off-road cycle tracks will be fundamentally reviewed under a plan to ease the pressures from millions of visitors every year.

The joint initiative between the national park authority and other key local organisations also sets aspirations for a new Waterside country park which could encourage people away from more sensitive areas of the Forest.

The NPA partnership plan for 2022-27 has been jointly produced with the district and county councils, the verderers, Forestry England, the Environment Agency and Natural England.

NPA chief executive Alison Barnes and Dr Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East, at the launch of the National Park Partnership Plan
NPA chief executive Alison Barnes and Dr Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East, at the launch of the National Park Partnership Plan

It sets out a vision to move the region towards carbon net zero while restoring wildlife habitats, building thriving local communities, allowing more people to connect with nature, and encouraging more care towards the Forest.

The partnership plan stated: “It is likely to entail a fundamental review of an increasingly outdated and fragmented infrastructure that includes campsites, car parks and waymarked off-road cycle routes.

“There is also a need to secure opportunities for significant new nature-rich green spaces for recreation close to where people live, to both take pressure away from the protected habitats of the New Forest and to create healthy communities for the future, such as exploring the feasibility of a new country park to benefit the growing resident population of the Waterside.”

Forestry England volunteer engaging with family at Bolderwood
Forestry England volunteer engaging with family at Bolderwood

It acknowledged that the significant challenges facing the national park from 15-million visits a year are set to grow as 130,000 new homes are built within 15 miles of the area by 2036.

The plan stated: “For the foreseeable future there is likely to be an increased demand for staycation holidays and further recreational demands on the national park.”

As reported in the A&T, discussions are already under way about the future of the currently free gravel car parks in the New Forest, as well as the Forestry England campsites.

Speaking at an official launch of the project – dubbed Re:New Forest – during last week’s New Forest Show, NPA chair Gavin Parker said at the heart of the plan was creating a thriving Forest supporting communities, commoning and land management for the benefit of the environment.

He said: “An urgent step change is needed. Many agree that now is the time to redouble our efforts to tackle the twin challenges of our age: the decline of nature and biodiversity, and the fundamentally connected threat of the climate crisis.

“We would like to thank everyone who gave their views during the preparation stages.

“We want to continue the conversation and call on everyone to take significant and urgent action with us to Re:New Forest over the next five years.”

Bolderwood Forest has been picked to be part of the Ancient Canopy in celebration of the Queen's platinum jubilee
Bolderwood Forest has been picked to be part of the Ancient Canopy in celebration of the Queen's platinum jubilee

Feedback from local communities has helped shape the plan, including 380 responses during a public consultation in summer 2021, and 2,700 responses to a survey in 2020.

Measures set out in a joint action plan – named Care for the Forest, Care for Each Other – put in place in 2021 and 2022, will be taken forward as longer-term ideas to manage increasing recreation pressures are developed.

The plan is broken down into five key themes: climate, nature, people, place and partnership. It is described as a strategy for the national park as a place and not just the organisations who have prepared it.



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