Our Agenda (continued)

Habitat Conservation and Restoration

Most of the New Forest SSSI, Special Protection Area, Wetland of International Importance and Special Area of Conservation are managed by the Forestry Commission. Nineteen other SSSIs, three National Nature Reserves and three Local Nature Reserves are managed by others, including Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and Hampshire County Council.

We are conscious that there are sometimes conflicting requirements arising from the various Acts of Parliament and EU Directives, and also that commoners and biologists sometimes have different views about what management is required. Overall our perception is that much has happened in the past sixty years to detract from or damage the intrinsic character and special qualities of New Forest landscape embracing its diverse habitats.

The Association supports:

  • Public authority policies (and if necessary legislation) which recognise that management decisions within the Forest should be consistent with the conservation of natural flora, fauna and physical features and the maintenance and, where appropriate, restoration to favourable condition of the 'Natura 2000' network.
  • Initiatives to change the relative areas of conifer and broad‐leaved plantations in the Forest Inclosures such that the latter are restored to their former dominance.
  • Returning to the open forest the Verderers Inclosures and certain other intrusive conifer plantations, together with unenclosed woodlands trapped within statutory Inclosures at the time they were established.
  • Returning some mature broadleaved plantations that make a special contribution to the Forest landscape and ecology to the open forest where they should be permitted to develop without further interference.
  • Reducing fragmentation of habitats and restoring SSSIs that are in an unfavourable condition.
  • Restoring historic mires and streams seriously damaged by previous drainage works, where this can be accomplished without the overall loss of grazing important to commoners' stock.
  • Systematically eradicating self‐sown pine, rhododendron and other intrusive species from the Forest on a sustained and rolling basis.

We will participate in opportunities to set long‐term or annual management programmes for the Forest and will maintain a watching brief over forest operations carried out within the particularly sensitive and ecologically important Crown land. We believe that a precautionary approach should be adopted in line with the Sandford Principle, which states:

"Where irreconcilable conflicts exist between conservation and public enjoyment, then conservation interest should take priority."