OLIVER Crosthwaite-Eyre will step down as chair of the New Forest National Park Authority next month after six years in the role.
Mr Crosthwaite-Eyre, who was appointed to the NPA by the environment secretary in 2012, is departing at the end of his second four-year term as a member.
Credited for his ability to navigate and understand the often complex and conflicting issues facing the New Forest, Mr Crosthwaite-Eyre has been a key advocate for the NPA in discussions with MPs and the government.
NPA chief executive Alison Barnes said: “Oliver is an excellent member and chairman. He has made a real impact on the authority and will be greatly missed when his term ends.
“His knowledge of and commitment to the Forest is a huge asset, as is the respect he has from partners and the NPA staff team.
“These excellent relationships with key organisations and individuals have transformed the way we deliver together for the national park. Oliver leaves a huge legacy of ‘Forest first’ which will endure through the people, projects and relationships he has invested in over the years.”
Prior to his appointment, Mr Crosthwaite-Eyre was the Official Verderer of the New Forest for nine years, acting as chairman of the Verderers’ Court which oversees the ancient practice of commoning.
He was then appointed a member of the NPA by the environment secretary in 2012, elected deputy chair in 2013, and chair in 2014.
During his time at the NPA, Mr Crosthwaite-Eyre has also chaired the Forest Farming Group, bringing together leaders of Forest organisations to develop an approach to land management and a common understanding of issues.
He has played an important role in promoting and advocating the New Forest’s 10-year £20m Higher Level Stewardship scheme to key officials, MPs and Defra. At national level he has worked with other national park chairs to promote their profile to government and wider society.
NPA deputy chair Patrick Heneghan said: “Oliver has been an outstanding chairman of the national park authority. His deep knowledge of the Forest, his unshakeable belief in collaborative working and a desire to deliver what is best for this special place have made for a powerful combination.
“Throughout his time at the helm Oliver has placed great focus on bringing together the numerous statutory and other organisations working in the New Forest.
“His belief has always been that we are stronger working in partnership towards common goals than we are as individuals.
“A big part of his legacy will be that the resulting partnerships and ways of joint working have been strengthened and consolidated, delivering better results for the New Forest than would otherwise have been possible.”
He added: “Oliver’s inclusive leadership style and willingness to tackle the big issues have made him a popular and respected leader. He will be missed by everyone, at the authority and beyond.”
Other key achievements include significant work on the review of the New Forest
Recreation Management Strategy.
As chair of its steering group – which comprises representatives from Forestry England, the verderers, the district and county councils and Natural England – he worked with others to adopt an action plan which was based on extensive consultation and analysis.
Mr Crosthwaite-Eyre’s appointment to the NPA runs until 31st August when Victoria Mander will join the authority as a new secretary of state-appointed member.
The NPA’s deputy chair Patrick Heneghan will act as chair until the annual authority meeting on 24th September when a new holder will be elected.