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England's Woods & Forests
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About the Working Forest

Centuries of human management and livestock grazing have meant that the forest is a combination of heathland, ancient woodland, wetlands and grassy plains, with many inclosures of both coniferous and deciduous Pig Bush, New Forestwoodland.

Some trees have to be planted, young growing trees need to be kept free of weeds and older trees require thinning out to allow them to grow to maturity. 

The open heaths need to be managed to control the vegetation and so provide good habitats for birds and other wildlife as well as good grazing for ponies, cattle and deer. 

Forest management is an active, everyday process involving foresters, keepers, rangers and skilled woodsmen working full-time to keep the forest in good order.

Recreation is important in the New Forest and with a large proportion of the forest being Crown land, access to the greater part is open and free to all. Local users and visitors from farther afield regularly enjoy participating in a wide range of recreation activities including  horse-riding, dog walking and cycling.

Conservation and protection remain central to managing the forest. This is achieved through a number of organisations working together including the Forestry Commission, who manage the Crown lands of the New Forest, and the Verderers, who seek to protect the forest from development and protect the rights of the Commoners.

The New Forest National Park Authority also work with these organisations to achieve this aim. Whilst the priorities of the protection have changed since 1066, the same prime need to conserve the land and its wildlife remains.

This section tells you about any particular aspect of how the forest is managed, and if you click on work sites you will find out about the current management operations underway in specific areas of the forest

Documents of Interest

Crown Lands Management Plan 2008-2013

New Forest Deer Management Plan 2005-2015


Last updated: 21st October 2017

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.