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Letter: Closing New Forest campsites is short-sighted

SIR – The permanent closure of the very popular, delightful and well-screened on-Forest Camping in the Forest (CITF) campsites, proposed by the Commoners Defence Association (CDA) and sadly supported by the verderers (A&T, 4th June), is both troubling and short-sighted.

Due to Covid, these sites were closed temporarily and the CDA now wants to take back the grazing that they “lost” when these sites were opened. Why should this be a good idea when it is clear how much the Forest is already over-grazed? When is the last time you saw a wild flower in the grazed areas or maybe a new sapling?

I moved to the Forest from a very popular Kent village which, over the years, has adapted to live in balance with its popularity. As a Forest resident I don’t want to see the Forest overrun with tourists any more than the next man but, hold on, our visitors are very important to us both in economic and, yes, in cultural terms as well.

The love of the Forest is not just the purview of those who live or run animals there, and those who love and respect it but do not live there far outnumber those who are resident.

The point is that we should be working together harder than ever in these pressurised times to achieve a sensible balance between the interests of visitors, residents and commoners alike.

The lasting popularity of the Forest and the campsites within it is both a benefit and a curse; if the CDA and verderers have their way they will remove what they see as a curse and the benefit will surely disappear just as swiftly – then where would we be?

Dr C. J. Harris,

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