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Following the official launch of the £16 million, ten-year Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme earlier this year, the HLS Partnership has now appointed Chris Caswell as Programme Manager for the high profile scheme, in a move which will see the start of a number of HLS projects.
Chris brings strong organisational skills to his new role in the New Forest, following a full and successful career in the Army, from which he retired in 2007 as a Colonel. His new post will require him to manage the £1.6 million annual budget of the HLS Partnership of the Verderers, the Forestry Commission, and the New Forest National Park Authority.
The money will enable continued and improved funding for the Verderers, the historic practice of commoning, and will fund the maintenance and restoration of internationally-important habitats for wildlife. It will also fund improved access to and education about the area’s unique environment.
Chris was commissioned originally into the Royal Army Educational Corps. He served with the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment in Northern Ireland and later, on the staff for operations and diplomatic missions in Bosnia, Kosovo and The Sudan.
“I feel hugely privileged to have the opportunity to contribute to the environment of the Forest, for which my family and I have so much affection. My passion for the New Forest began back in 1976 when I met my wife, whose family had lived in Lymington since 1959. Despite living overseas with the Army, the New Forest has always been the UK base for our family.”
Originally a graduate in Mediaeval History from University of Cardiff, Chris trained as a teacher at Exeter University and later gained a Masters at Cranfield University in Corporate Management. Chris is not only a specialist in education but also has broad experience in programme management from his service life and subsequent work in the city.
Most recently he conducted the Army officer graduate recruitment programme in the South East.
Born in Wales, Chris grew up in the farming communities of Oxfordshire and the Lambourn Downs where he worked the farms as a relief herdsman during holidays. When not walking in the New Forest, gardening or following the rugby fortunes of Wales. His other main passion is sailing out of Keyhaven Yacht Club, where he is Cruising Captain.
Official Verderer, Oliver Crosthwaite Eyre, commented on Chris’s appointment:
“I am very pleased that we have been able to appoint such a strong candidate to this crucial New Forest position. The scheme is of tremendous importance to the Forest and I am delighted that we now have a manager in place to help us take it forward and ensure its success.”
New Forest National Park Chief Executive Alison Barnes said:
“This scheme - worth £16m over 10 years - means we can not only protect but enhance the unique New Forest landscape. Over half of the National Park is designated as being internationally-important for wildlife and we're delighted that Chris is joining us to start implementing projects on the ground.”
The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woodland for the benefit of the environment and the general public. It is the UK’s largest land manager and the biggest provider of outdoor recreation.
The Verderers protect and administer the New Forest’s unique agricultural commoning practices and conserve its traditional landscape.
The New Forest National Park Authority was established in April 2006. Its purposes are to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park and to promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities.