I am aware of how fortunate I am to live in the New Forest and so close to the beaches. This has been especially the case over the last year of intermittent lockdown. Some of my correspondents complain to me as if visitors to the Forest are some sort of intrusion into ‘our Forest’, but I can’t blame anyone for wanting to get out of an inner-city or suburban sprawl and spend some time in this magical place – so long as they treat it with the proper care that it deserves and don’t spoil it for everyone else.
Last summer I had quite a correspondence from constituents who felt that the Forest was being overwhelmed by the number of day trips, litter, BBQs, anti-social behaviour and wild camping as a nation that had been locked-down descended upon us. Whilst some of these problems were exacerbated by the fact that the main official Forest campsites, run by Camping In The Forest, remained closed throughout the year -which will not be the case this year, nevertheless given a release from our current lockdown and great uncertainty about foreign travel, we must expect similar pressures this summer too.
A great deal was achieved jointly last year by a range of local organisations including the banning the sale of disposable BBQs by 50 local retailers and recruiting 400 voluntary New Forest Ambassadors.
I am delighted that Forestry England together with The National Park Authority, New Forest District Council and Go New Forest have come together, supported by The Verderers, Hampshire Fire & Rescue and Hampshire Constabulary, to pool their resources and to use the lessons learnt last year in order to produce a plan to protect our unique landscape and encourage greater respect for the area, and to manage the pressures that we will inevitably face this summer.
There will be increased high visibility patrolling by Forestry England Rangers including their voluntary rangers, and the National Park rangers too.
New Forest Ambassadors will assist with litter removal, report parking violations and promote the New Forest Code – which sets out what people need to do in order to take proper care of the Forest (which you can find it at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/news/new-forest-code/ )
There will be a complete BBQ and fire ban in the New Forest Crown lands and signs will make this clear.
Often constituents express their frustration to me that they want to help protect the Forest but feel powerless to do so, beyond picking up litter -which many of us do whenever we can.
Well, consider this: how about becoming a New Forest Ambassador; find out more at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/communities/get-involved/what-you-can-do-the-new-forest-ambassador-scheme/