Forest Diary

A fresh perspective

By Libby Burke, Communications Manager ( IN FULL BLOOM

There are many ways in which the beautiful New Forest is a part of our busy lives. Lots of us admire its leafy backdrop as we take part in morning jogging sessions to kick start the day, enjoy long weekend walks with the dog, get into gear with evening family cycle rides or drive along the forest roads for work and to visit loved ones.

This past year I’ve been away from my desk on maternity leave, so I’ve been able to get out in the New Forest even more than usual. It’s been the perfect opportunity to stop and look at how it changes throughout the seasons, and truly appreciate where I live and work.

I’ve noticed things that I’ve rarely noticed before – a new woodland ride (or narrow track) that’s been opened up; the tentative steps of a new-born foal; a stunning patch of bluebells; the sound of gorse flowers popping in the sunshine; and nightjars churring in the evening. I’ve loved the opportunity to walk my dog every day in the New Forest, so we can both get some exercise in the fresh forest air and explore new routes. I’ve walked waymarked trails, read information signs and noticed when gates have been replaced or trees felled.

It’s all given me a fresh perspective on our New Forest. I’m very lucky that I’m able to work in such a stunning and fascinating part of the UK with the Forestry Commission, but it’s very easy to take it all for granted. By stopping to really look at these incredible surroundings, to see it develop and grow in real time, it’s so interesting to see how quickly it changes and how much hard work goes into helping the New Forest to look as beautiful as it does. Every season is as busy as the last, whether it’s baling heather from the heathland by tractor, huge harvesting machines felling trees, or planting and tending to the thousands of tiny saplings in seemingly bare patches of land.

And I’ve been lucky to share all of this with a new baby and our dog. Maternity leave has allowed me time to see the Forest as a visitor sees it, as well as the work that goes into managing it – and what a place!

It can often be difficult to see the wood for the trees, but never more literally than when working for the Forestry Commission. Looking at the New Forest in a new light, seeing it for what it is rather than with a technical or professional ‘hat’ on, has helped me to understand what others might see, how they may respond to work we’re carrying out and what they might be interested to learn more about. These are the insights which help us change the way we do things. We often rely on others to let us know about any particular areas that need attention, to ask questions or tell us how we’re doing – and simply looking at things from a different perspective has allowed me to walk a mile or two in those shoes.

For more information about the New Forest, visit


Don’t miss our woodland retreat at the New Forest Show

By Zoe Cox, Community Manager – New Forest (

It’s almost that time of year again when nearly 95,000 visitors from across Hampshire and further afield visit the annual New Forest and Hampshire County Show, and we’re excited to be supporting this family event once again.

As one of the UK’s top 10 agricultural shows and our highlight summer event, the Show takes place at the end of July (28-30 July) and celebrates agriculture, forestry, traditional country pursuits, crafts, equestrianism, produce and horticulture.

The theme for this year’s highly-acclaimed event is ’Join the Adventure’ and we’ve been busy planning lots of fun activities for families to enjoy and get involved with.

In our tranquil woodland area, we’ll be celebrating some of the different outdoor activities you can do while visiting the public forest estate, which you can try out for yourself at the Show. We’ll also tell you more about the different activities that are carried out in our woodlands, such as the work by Pondhead Conservation Trust, who carry out charcoal burning and coppicing under an agreement with the Forestry Commission.

If you want to get your adrenaline pumping, you can ride a Segway with the Go Ape team, who are usually found at Moors Valley. This two-wheeled, self-balancing vehicle is fun and easy to ride, and you might even want to challenge your friends and family to a race! Adventurous and competitive visitors can also take part in orienteering challenges with the Southampton Orienteering Club, where you can navigate your way through a route to complete the course in the quickest time.

The fantastic Forest Forge youth theatre group will entertain you with street theatre and puppet shows. Meanwhile younger visitors can enjoy taking part in our popular Superworm trail, which is suitable for children aged three to eight; an activity pack is available to buy, which accompanies the trail and gives the little ones lots of fun activities to complete.

Our team will also have a display stand in the ‘Heart of the New Forest’ corner, where you can chat to staff about sustainable forestry, the different activities that happen in the forest and learn more about what we do at the Forestry Commission.

We love exhibiting at this annual event, as it gives us the chance to showcase the many fun activities that people can enjoy in the New Forest and talk about why it’s important to protect our forests, so that we can enjoy them for generations to come. The New Forest is a stunning part of our English countryside, which is home to many fascinating animals, wildlife, flora and fauna; we hope to see many of you there in the future.

The gates open between 8:30am-6:30pm at New Park, Brockenhurst, Hampshire. While you’re enjoying the Show, come and find us, and try out some of our exciting outdoor activities.

For more information on the New Forest, visit or the New Forest and Hampshire County Show, visit