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Friends of the New Forest seeks volunteers for bylaws survey

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A CONSERVATION charity is seeking volunteers to record local bylaw breaches in the New Forest.

Trustees of the Friends of the New Forest have warned that most visitors to the area do not know what the rules are and a “clear strategy for publicising or enforcing them is absent”.

Local bylaws prohibit certain activities including wild camping, lighting fires and feeding livestock.

Feeding ponies is prohibited in the New Forest
Feeding ponies is prohibited in the New Forest

John Ward, Friends of the New Forest chair, said: “The bylaws are similar to a code of conduct but with enforceable legal powers that may lead to a fine and, in some cases, risk imprisonment.

“We conducted a pilot survey in October last year that recorded almost 3,000 breaches in the New Forest byelaws but we believe that this was just the tip of the iceberg.

“We need to run the survey again, gather more data, raise awareness of the bylaws, and support effective measures to protect the Forest against those activities causing most concern.”

The bylaws survey will run until the end of August.

Charlotte Lines, chair of the New Forest Commoners Defence Association, backed the survey.

She said: “This initiative will help to demonstrate the scale of activities that cause our members concern, particularly the feeding and petting of ponies and donkeys, the increase in out-of-control dogs worrying our cattle, and dangerous or irresponsible parking in front of barriers and gates.

“Any scheme that will provide a robust and credible evidence base which can be used to help us protect and safeguard commoning and our free-roaming animals is welcome.”

To add to the Friends of the New Forest survey visit newforestassociation.org

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