Watchdog charity appeals for help with New Forest byelaws survey

04/08/2022

Conservation charity – Friends of the New Forest – have launched a survey to monitor and record breaches in the New Forest byelaws and are calling on volunteers to help collect data.

The byelaws are legal requirements that aim to conserve the New Forest, preserve its tranquility and regulate recreational use, by prohibiting certain activities such as wild camping, lighting fires, verge parking and feeding livestock such as ponies and donkeys.

Forestry England, the National Trust and the Verderers of the New Forest all issue byelaws and can enforce them.  However, trustees of the charity say that few people using the New Forest know what the byelaws are, which means they are consequently overlooked or ignored and that a clear strategy for publicising or enforcing them is absent.

John Ward, Chairman of Friends of the New Forest, said:

“The byelaws are similar to a code of conduct but with enforceable legal powers that may lead to a fine and, in some cases, risk imprisonment.  We conducted a pilot survey in October last year that recorded almost 3,000 breaches in the New Forest byelaws, but we believe that this was just the tip of the iceberg. We need to run the survey again, gather more data, raise awareness of the byelaws and support effective measures to protect the Forest against those activities causing most concern”.

Charlotte Lines, Chair of the New Forest Commoners Defence Association, showed support for the survey and said:

“This initiative will help to demonstrate the scale of activities that cause our members concern, particularly the feeding and petting of ponies and donkeys, the increase in out-of-control dogs worrying our cattle and dangerous or irresponsible parking in front of barriers and gates. Any scheme that will provide a robust and credible evidence base which can be used to help us protect and safeguard commoning and our free-roaming animals is welcome.’”

The byelaws survey will run until the end of August and volunteers are being asked to complete a survey form available from the Friends of the New Forest website – www.newforestassociation.org, while out and about as part of their regular routine.

 ENDS.

 

Information for Editors:

The Friends of the New Forest (New Forest Association) is one of the world’s oldest conservation charities. Formed in 1867, the charity was created to protect and restore the unique character of the New Forest. Our members promoted the 1877 New Forest Act to secure its future and now we are the voice for the New Forest National Park – its friend and watchdog.

Registered Charity no: 260328 – www.friendsofthenewforest.org

Please refer to:

  • Forestry Commission Byelaws: https://www.forestryengland.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Forestry%20Commission_Byelaws.pdf
  • New Forest Verderers Byelaws: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/993/contents/made
  • National Trust (New Forest): https://nt.global.ssl.fastly.net/documents/the-national-trust-byelaws-1965.pdf

For more information, interviews, or images please contact:

Gale Pettifer (Vice Chair) – media@friendsofthenewforest.org

Sarah Nield (Hon. Sec) – secretary@friendsofthenewforest.org

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