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Forest Diary

The Forest Diary, Respect your Forest Dog on lead close-up

By Lisa Pearce, Communications Manager, (enquiries.southern@forestry.gsi.gov.uk)

The New Forest has long been recognised as a beautiful place, rich in cultural history, wildlife and habitat, superb for visitors and relaxation. It’s designation as a National Park puts it in the premier league of British landscapes, worthy of protection for the future.

Given this special title, respecting the Forest landscape and its wildlife is key to ensuring it is worthy of this status both now and in the future. That’s where the ‘Caring for the Forest’ code comes in!

The code, promoted by both the National Park Authority and Forestry Commission, encourages all of us to act responsibly when visiting or using the Forest. Its focus is both the protection of the Forest’s integrity and the health, safety and enjoyment of its users. It covers a whole range of topics from forest management, ensuring you stay safe when work is taking place on our sites, to driving with care to respect cyclists, horse-riders and animals.

Let’s explore some of the topics covered by the code in a bit more detail…

For those of you who like cycling, there are over 100 miles of waymarked family friendly cycle routes, much of it off the public highway and traffic free. It’s an ideal way to discover the magnificent beauty and fascinating wildlife of the Forest that can easily be missed by car. It’s also a great way of keeping fit and healthy! Here in the New Forest the network is easily accessible from railway stations at Ashurst, Brockenhurst and Sway and links to the main Forest villages. To be a respectful cyclist  ‘be considerate’  to walkers and horse-riders by calling out a warning when approaching them, and ‘keep safe’ by wearing something bright so you’re visible to motorists.

The Forest is also a great dog friendly place for forest friendly dog owners. In April, we’re running two events where you can learn about ground nesting birds and wildlife when walking your dog and how to respect them; hear advice on products to help pick up after your canine friend; and the importance of considering other users such as young children who may be fearful of dogs.  ‘Dotty about Dogs,’ will take place at our car parks from 1 to 3pm on 7th April at Deerleap (SU353094) and on 14th April at Turfhill (SU212176).  So come along with your four-legged friend and pick up some tips. You can even have a go at one of our dog friendly activities including temptation alley and weave poles. Prizes to be won!

Enjoyment is another theme of the ‘Caring for the Forest’ code. Take a relaxing walk and enjoy the splendour of wooded, heathland and coastal landscapes.  Wherever you are, just be aware of the route you’re following so you can easily find your way back to your vehicle. If you’d rather participate in one of our organised events, the Forest offers a great backdrop to try out a whole range of activities.  On 22nd March, we’re holding a Forest Discovery Day at Blackwater Arboretum (SU268047), off the Rhinefield Drive – a chance to have a spot of fun and to meet some of our staff and volunteers.

As custodians of the Forest, our team of Keepers and Rangers play a key role in encouraging local people and visitors to follow and respect it by, for example, taking their litter home and driving responsibly to prevent animal accidents. By running events, chatting to people and patrolling the Forest, the Keepers and Rangers help to ensure our sites are safe and increase the understanding of the special qualities of the New Forest, including its culture, landscape and wildlife. So when you see them out and about, just feel free to stop and ask them any questions. They’ll be happy to help.

Ultimately, we all have a role to play in ensuring the New Forest is cared for whether we’re cycling, dog walking or simply enjoying its beauty. It’s when we understand the importance of such a unique landscape we become ambassadors in protecting its future retaining it as a special place now and for generations to come.

For information about any of the Forestry Commission events mentioned above, please phone our Enquiry no. on 0300 067 4601.

For general information on the New Forest, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/newforest