As my life is split between working in the tourist industry and having a passion for nature and where I live, I have noticed there isn't enough information out there for visitors regarding the do's and don'ts of this wonderful environment. As locals we all get a bit grumpy when people misuse the forest but when we take time to talk to them, the majority have no idea they are doing wrong and when they understand they become advocates of the New Forest. So I thought I would put together a few guidelines for people coming to the forest in the coming season.
PLEASE COME and enjoy this wonderful landscape and ROAMING LIVESTOCK, but PLEASE do not feed or pet. If the livestock get used to people, they tend to hang around car parks, roadsides and tourist hot spots looking for a handout which stops them from grazing and roaming in their NATURAL HABITAT.This can create aggressive behaviour and a higher risk of being hit by a car. One of many reasons to stick to the speed limit when DRIVING IN THE FOREST. Ponies, cows, donkeys, pigs and deer can easily be camouflaged in their surroundings even on a roadside in broad daylight.
PLEASE STOP AND ADMIRE the animals but PLEASE BE MINDFUL of where you park. Parking on verges or in gateways are not permitted. Verges are valuable grazing areas with rare species of flora often growing there. Locked gates still need 24 hour access by forestry commission vehicles, commoners and the emergency services. There are many forestry commission FREE CAR PARKS all over the forest and roaming animals are never far away.
FANCY A BBQ? There are designated barbeque areas in the New Forest at Blackwater, Bolderwood, Wilverley and Anderwood these are enclosed areas UNDER THE TREES of the forest out of the reach of inquisitive animals. Barbeques are permitted on a RAISED BARBEQUE on any of the gravel surface forestry commission car parks providing you are carrying water and take away your rubbish. PLEASE do not use disposable bbq's directly on the ground or fallen wood. This creates scorching or at worse fire.
The WONDERFUL THING about the New Forest is THE FREEDOM to walk anywhere but please adhere to signage, stick to paths on heathlands between March and July to avoid disturbing GROUND NESTING BIRDS. Keep dogs UNDER CLOSE CONTROL, to reduce disturbance. Especially if they are not used to roaming livestock. Often there is young sheltering in the scrub and mums can be understandably protective and aggressive.
If you are bringing your bikes there are many CYCLE TRACKS in the New Forest. PLEASE ENJOY these tracks and forest roads. Cycling on the open forest is not permitted as It creates trenching on damp tracks and disturbance to WILDLIFE and RARE FLORA.
PLEASE COME, PLEASE ADMIRE, PLEASE SEE WHAT WE SEE. AN AMAZING ENVIRONMENT FOR RARE FLORA AND FAUNA. WALK AND CYCLE THE NEW FOREST, EAT ALFRESCO, WATCH THE SUNRISE AND LISTEN TO THE DAWN CHORUS. EXPERIENCE THE SUNSET WHILE THE BADGERS, FOXES, DEER AND BATS BRAVE THE LANDSCAPE. COME AND SEE THE AUTUMN COLOURS AND RARE FUNGI OR THE SPRING AWAKENING AND NEW BORN FOALS.
ALL WE ASK IS THAT YOU MAKE MINIMAL IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT, AND THE EXPERIENCE AND MEMORIES YOU TAKE AWAY WILL BE MAXIMUM IMPACT OF THE NEW FOREST.