THE WOOD FOR THE TREES..
Back from a week away in the New Forest. We were blessed with glorious Spring weather and made the most of out time there by visiting the promised old haunts as well as some new ones. I made return visits to places I knew all of 60 years ago - Hythe, Blackfield, Lepe, Calshot, Fawley where I first went to school - and some of the more popular places - Exbury, Beaulieu, Buckler`s Hard, Keyhaven, Hurst Castle and even down to Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset.
But what I especially enjoyed was to explore the Forest once more and nowhere better than the Ornamental Drive at Rhinefield and Boldrewood - shown in my picture below.
The New Forest is a very special place for all kinds of reasons. It has a long and unique history along with its own unique character and it seems to be very well `managed` albeit by a tangled web of disparate `agencies.` As you wander through the forest glades and lose yourself in the peace and tranquility away from it all, you are quite unaware of the complex management that lies behind that unforgettable experience. But when you find out, you begin to wonder just how on earth the Forest has managed to survive and prosper for these past 1,000 years without the introduction of these layers of management.
The New Forest, almost paradoxically, is the country`s newest National Park and as such it has to have a National Park Authority, whose main purposes are`to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage, promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of the Forest and foster the social and economic wellbeing of the Forest communities.`
Of course, the Forest being a forest, the Forestry Commission gets involved as it is responsible for the management of the Forest Crown Lands. There`s the New Forest Trust, whose aim also is to secure the wellbeing of the Forest, there`s the New Forest District Council, Town Councils at places like Lyndhurst, Parish Councils across the Forest, Hampshire County Council, the New Forest Tourism Association, Natural England and other wildlife conservation groups and on and on it goes.
Of course, to my mind the ones that really matter and know the Forest better than anyone are the Verderers of the New Forest whose ancient role has always been pretty much the same as all the other, newer agencies, whilst the New Forest Agisters are a small, skilled working group of just five men with a good working knowledge of the Forest and its depasturised animals. Four of them are allocated a large area each and are responsible for overseeing all aspects of the New Forest ponies.
With all of these other agencies and authorities involved there`s the real risk of duplication of effort and resources, which the Forest can ill afford, but it`s a sign of the times that we deem it necessary to impose layer upon layer of authority whereas once a simple and effective structure with local people who knew the Forest did the job for so many centuries.
The Forest hasn`t changed in a thousand years, but I wonder if it can sometimes see the wood for the trees of bureaucracy that surround it. For much more, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Forest