The New Forest National Park is a unique, centuries old landscape providing one of the last remaining wild areas of any significant size among the growing conurbations of Southern England. A trip to the New Forest allows campers to experience the unique history and culture of the area and get immersed among some of Europe’s most valuable and beautiful wildlife habitats.
Here we take a look at the origins of the forest, our work with New Forest Stakeholders and conservation efforts.
Origins of the New Forest
The New Forest as we know it today has its origins in the 11th Century but in many ways the Forest is as recognisable now as it was back then.
Although the area has been inhabited by people since prehistoric times, the New Forest as we know it today is nearly 1000 years old! Entries in the Domesday Records suggest that the New Forest perambulation was created sometime between 1066 and 1086 to provide a hunting forest for William 1 and his court.
Many historical events have shaped the forest from the change in primary use as a hunting ground to its use for large scale timber throughout the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. This use continued into the war and inter-war years where the forest was intensively managed for timber to support the war effort.
The post war years saw the increase of car ownership and at the time people were able to drive and carry-out recreational activities anywhere they wanted in the forest. This led to extensive erosion and rutting across the forest which was highly damaging to the sensitive habitats of the area.
Focus now turned to conserving and preserving the forest and a network of official car parks and designated campsites were recommended as part of the Conservation Review of 1971. Further protection to the nature conservation interests of the Forest was gained through special designations to protect the Forest.
In 1959, three Forest Nature Reserves were established under an Agreement between the Nature Conservancy and the Forestry Commission and five areas of the Forest were notified as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with further extensions made in 1971 and 1987 covering 28,947 hectares which today forms the New Forest Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). More recent designations of parts of the Forest as a RAMSAR site, Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA) have helped to recognise the importance of the Forest on an International and European level. In 2005, the New Forest was officially designated as a National Park.
Our work with New Forest stakeholders
Today, the key organisations in the Forest increasingly work together in partnership to safeguard, protect and restore the glorious New Forest habitats and landscape.
Camping in the Forest co-operate and work with these partner organisations to ensure that our campsites are managed with the interests of the Forest at the heart of what we do and that our visitors can enjoy all the experiences that a stay in the New Forest can offer. Our key partners that we work and cooperate with to achieve this are:
The Forestry Commission who are our Co-Venture partners as well as being the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woodlands and increasing their value to society and the environment. The Forestry Commission manage the Crown Lands of the New Forest on behalf of the Secretary of State.
Natural England who is the government's adviser for the natural environment in England, helping to protect England's nature and landscapes for people to enjoy and for the services they provide. As all our New Forest campsites are legally designated for their nature conservation interest we work with Natural England and seek their advice to protect the important habitat features present on our campsites.
The Verderers of the New Forest protect and administer the Forest’s unique agricultural commoning practices and conserve its traditional landscape and safeguard the viable future for communing. As all of our New Forest Campsites are located on the Open Forest we work closely with the Verderers over matters related to livestock and the preservation of grazing.
The New Forest National Park Authority are the guardians of the New Forest National Park and have statutory purposes and socio-economic responsibilities as specified in the Environment Act of 1995:
Working in partnership with other organisations it is also the Authority’s duty to seek to foster the economic and social well-being of the local communities within.
Camping in the Forest are proud of our green credentials and are excited to be located in the New Forest which is one of the most important areas for wildlife and nature conservation in the UK and widely recognised as being of exceptional importance for nature conservation on a European and International level.
The New Forest supports a rich and complex mosaic of rare habitats comprising expanses of Lowland heathland with rich valley mires (bogs) and areas of wet and dry grassland, referred to locally as “Lawns”. The mires feed a network of pristine streams and rivers which flow along the valley bottoms while numerous seasonal and permanent ponds are scattered around the Forest.
Ancient pasture woodland, typified by towering groves of centuries old Beech and Oak trees and “younger” enclosed woodlands of conifer and broadleaf tree species adorn the landscape.
Indeed, the majority of New Forest habitats support an exceptional variety of plants and animals including the richest moss and lichen flora in lowland Europe, scarce flowering plants and an outstanding community of invertebrates.
The New Forest also supports important bird populations and is one of the largest areas for breeding waders in southern England while the heathlands provide vital breeding habitat for the rare Dartford Warbler, Nightjar and Woodlark.
All ten of our New Forest Campsites are located within the protected areas of the New Forest and so it is vitally important that we do everything we can to protect and preserve the features of these important habitats. These habitats support ancient & veteran trees and associated deadwood, unique plant communities and a wide variety of birds, mammals and invertebrates.
Being the occupier of land within the New Forest Site of Special Scientific Interest, places responsibility on us to protect the special features of our sites. To support and guide us in the everyday operations required to keep a busy campsite running we have developed a set of Ecological Campsite Management Plans to help us to manage the special features of the campsites to the highest standard and to ensure that all parties with an interest in the sites are aware of the management focus, protocols and specifications required.
Simple actions by our campers can also really help to protect the ecological value of our sites by:
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