New Forest

New Forest National Park

The New Forest is a mosaic of ancient and ornamental woodland, heather-covered heaths, boggy mires, picturesque villages and a coastline of mudflats and saltmarshes.

Despite its name, less than half of the New Forest National Park is covered in trees. The Park is a patchwork of diverse habitats including ancient woodland, 26 miles of coastline and the most extensive area of heathland remaining in Europe with over 10,000 hectares. It is an important habitat for many animals, including ground nesting birds and all 5 UK deer species.

The New Forest is one of the only remaining lowland common areas in Britain. Thousands of free roaming animals including ponies, sheep and cattle are managed by ‘commoners’, or local farmers and landowners with the right to graze their livestock over 38,000 hectares of the Park under Common Law. These grazing animals have shaped the landscape of the New Forest over several hundred years and continue to play a key role in the maintenance of much of the New Forest landscape.

Did you know? The New Forest was created by William the Conqueror in 1077 for the hunting of deer and game.

Designation: 01/03/2005

Habitats: Heathland, farmland, estuaries, beaches and seashore, wetlands, ancient woodland

Common wildlife: Roe deer, fallow deer, silka deer, ground nesting birds such as the Nightjar, woodlark and meadow pipet, waders, including lapwing, oystercatcher and curlew

Star spots: Red deer, muntjac deer, pearl-bordered and small pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies

Notable towns and cultural sights: Hurst Castle

Notable nature sights: National Trust commons

Popular activities for visitors: Hiking

Highest peak: Telegraph Hill at 167 meters above sea level

Annual visitor numbers: 13.5 million

Threats: Climate change, over tourism, increased pressures from farming