Living in the New Forest

More than 34,000 people live within the New Forest National Park, making it the most densely-populated national park in England.

The New Forest is a landscape shaped by human activity and by New Forest ponies, sometimes called ‘the architects of the forest’. It is used for ‘commoning’ – those who have the right to graze their animals on the open Forest – and for forestry, agriculture and even quarrying. Unusually for a national park, almost half of the land is in public ownership – ‘vested in’ the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and managed by the Forestry Commission.

For further information visit:

The New Forest National Park Authority website

The New Forest District Council website

The Forestry Commission website

The Hampshire County Council website

The Verderers of the New Forest website

WHO RUNS THE NATIONAL PARK?

In the main the landowners are responsible for managing the land. So, for example, the Forestry Commission is responsible for looking after nearly 50% of the New Forest National Park area.

In the New Forest, the Court of Verderers manages the traditional activity of commoning – the rights under which some property owners are entitled to let their ponies, donkeys, cattle, pigs or sheep roam free.

Various public authorities are responsible for setting polices and providing public services in the National Park area. These include:

  • Planning: New Forest National Park Authority
  • Roads: Hampshire County Council in Hampshire, Wiltshire Council in Wiltshire and the Highways England for ‘trunk’ roads and motorways i.e. the A31, A36 and M27
  • Public rights of way: Hampshire County Council in Hampshire and Wiltshire Council in Wiltshire
  • Public car parking: New Forest District Council, the Forestry Commission, Hampshire County Council
  • Tourism, business and economic development: Go New Forest. From Monday 3 April 2017, New Forest District Council’s (NFDC) Tourism Service, including the Brand New Forest Card Scheme, transferred all of its functions to Go New Forest. These functions include the publication of the Discover New Forest Guide, Official New Forest Map, Visitor Information Panels, operation and management of www.thenewforest.co.uk, and all other destination digital and social media including all press and PR.
  • Collecting litter: Mostly New Forest District Council, although landowners such as the Forestry Commission also pay for collections in some areas
  • Disposing of/recycling waste: Hampshire County Council in Hampshire, Wiltshire Council in Wiltshire
  • Managing the land: The Forestry Commission manages the Crown lands in the New forest National Park – nearly half of the total area. Others who manage land include the National Trust, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Hampshire County Council and private landowners/estates
  • Commoning and common rights: The Verderers
  • Animal accidents: The police, the Verderers and the Forestry Commission (see emergency hotlines card) with awareness campaigns supported by New Forest National Park Authority.