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New Forest National Park

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The New Forest Becomes Designated a National Park

The New Forest has been an historically important area dating back to the Stone Age when the land was first cleared for cultivation by the inhabitants of the day. Unfortunately the quality of the soil in the area is very poor and as a result a lot of the land reverted back to heath land.

Evidence of the historic population of the forest can still be clearly seen around by the knowing eye, with Round Barrows and boiling mounds scattered around the forest. The area has a number of SSSIs (sites of special scientific interest) and over 200 Scheduled Ancient Monuments but there is an ongoing debate as to whether these should be listed due to past thefts.

Originally an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty moves to possible designate the forest as a National Park started a far back as 1999 before an order to create the park was actually submitted to the secretary of state for consideration.

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The History Behind The Designation

Essentially a National Park is an area that remains mostly un-developed and has a high scenic or relatively unique landscape. Within the UK there are currently only 13 National Parks with the New Forest being the latest one, but the 14th National Park is currently awaiting designation and will be the South Downs.

The New Forest National Park is managed by it own park authority and the park authority has two prime and statutory obligations which are, to conserve and enhance the New Forests natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area, and to promote the understanding and enjoyment of the forests special qualities to the general public.

The original idea for the form of National Parks was first seeded by the United States in the early 19th century to protect its own areas of natural beauty and wilderness for example Yosemite.
The idea was soon adopted by many countries around the world as they sought to protect their national heritage.

In the UK due to mounting public pressure for access to country side areas dating back to the 1930's in 1949 the National Parks and access to the country side act was passed much to the dismay of some landowners.In the 1950's the first 10 parks were designated and whilst many other National Park areas have been suggested.

This has due to the geo-political boundaries not been an easy task with many of the proposed areas being deemed to difficult to designate due to the crossing of boundaries. So, many of these have been designated as areas of outstanding national beauty instead.

Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The forest itself was formerly part of the South Hampshire Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but as 95% of the AONB fell with the proposed National Park designated areas, the AONB status was rescinded and the other 5% of the former area was deemed to no longer meet the required AONB criteria.

The National Park has also absorbed what was formerly known as the New Forest Heritage Area.
The Order to change the forest to a National Park was presented in February 2002 but as with anything involving land there were a number of disputes with locals about New Forest boundaries, with some localities wishing to be part of the new designated areas, and estates and corporations who felt they should be excluded for a variety of reasons.

This lead to a public enquiry and several court cases but eventually the matter was resolved and on the 28 June 2004, the government of the day finally confirmed its intention to designate the forest a National Park.

Formal Designation Made

The designation to become a National Park was formally made on the first of March 2005 and so the New Forest National Park was born.

Management of the park is still a complex process involving a number of different bodies, but in principle a National Park Authority has been formed to manage the park but, as there is still crown property within the parks boundary this will still be managed by the Forestry Commission. The Verderers will also retain their existing responsibilities granted to them under New Forest Acts.

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