Welcoming the report, New Forest National Park Authority Chairman Julian Johnson said: ‘The Panel has recognised that woodlands are not only vital for nature, but bring great value to people in terms of providing jobs and skills and supporting the economy – which is particularly relevant with our Commoning system in the New Forest – as well as benefiting people’s health and wellbeing.
‘These benefits have been recognised in the New Forest for a long time in the way it has been managed and we hope the New Forest will benefit from a renewed focus on achieving them.’
The 72-page report also recommends that the Forestry Commission evolves into a new organisation which will champion woodlands. It would have guardians and trustees who would be accountable to Parliament and the organisation would be more independent from Government with greater financial freedom. The report says: ‘Government investment is now needed to kick start these changes which will repay itself many times over in terms of public benefit.’
The Government launched a consultation on the future of the public forest estate managed by the Forestry Commission in January 2011, including the Crown land in the New Forest National Park.
The Panel, chaired by The Right Reverend James Jones Bishop of Liverpool, was then set-up to advise the Government on the future of England’s forests and woods.
As part of the consultation, the New Forest National Park Authority co-hosted a visit by some of the Panel members to the New Forest in February this year which included a tour of key sites and discussions with a wide range of Forest organisations about issues such as habitats, recreation, land management, volunteering and tourism.
The Government now has six months to consider the report and publish its response to the recommendations.
Mr Johnson said: ‘We are pleased that the Panel listened to our calls for the New Forest to stay in public ownership and took on board the special nature of public woodlands in its recommendations. We will now be seeking greater understanding of the details behind the report and will hold discussions with Authority Members and our stakeholders to explore what the recommendations would mean for the Forest.’
Notes to Editor:
The Panel’s full report is available here: http://www.defra.gov.uk/
About the New Forest National Park Authority
Protect - Enjoy - Prosper
The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:
Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect
Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.
We also have a duty to:
Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.
The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.
Hilary Makin, Communications Manager, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646608
Karen Evans-McDaid, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650