Welcome to this New Forest Map and Guide. This an independent guide that gives you the lowdown on the New Forest. Browse through our pages for information on its history, customs, biodiversity and attractions.
The New Forest National Park is a unique landscape that covers an area of 220 square miles and is known simply as the “Forest” by its residents. It contains no towns, only villages and has been a National Park since 2005. Situated in the south west corner of the county of Hampshire it is bordered by Southampton Water in the east and the River Avon to the west.
The Forest is home to around 5000 iconic New Forest ponies who roam freely across its unique landscape. However, it’s not new and its not a forest as we understand the term. It was founded in 1079 by William the Conqueror (King William 1) when “forest” meant an area of land set aside for hunting by the King. He named it his Nova Foresta – his New Forest. Check out our 30-minute video entitled “A Year in the New Forest” to learn more about the Forest and see how it changes from season to season
For more images of the New Forest’s unique landscape and its wildlife, check out New Forest Nature Photography.
The New Forest is a unique landscape enjoy and please respect it by following the New Forest Code.
RESPECT THE FOREST – FOLLOW THE NEW FOREST CODE
During 2020 there was unprecedented recreational pressure on the Forest and this pressure remains high. Unfortunately not all visitors respected its unique landscape and there was a major increase in antisocial activities. These activities had some truly damaging impacts on the countryside including the massive fire which destroyed a large area of the neighbouring Wareham Forest caused by irresponsible use of BBQs. The irresponsible use of BBQs presents a major risk of wildfire with potentially devastating effects.
In just one weekend alone Rangers working with the Fire Service extinguished over 60 unsafe BBQs. As a consequence, there is now a total ban on all BBQs anywhere within the New Forest. In addition, Forestry England have removed BBQ facilities from all car parks. There has also been an increase in litter, which can harm the grazing animals. These animals are vital in shaping the landscape and maintaining rare Forest habitats. As a result of these issues, there will be increased patrols by Rangers supported by the Police and Fire Service during peak periods.
In 2023 the district council approved proposals to introduce two Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) that aim to deter “inappropriate behaviour”. One of the PSPOs seeks to prevent people from feeding and petting ponies that graze the landscape. The other prohibits the lighting of fires and BBQs. Anyone breaching a PSPO can be handed a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice or fined up to £1,000 if the case goes to the Magistrates’ Court.
It is hoped that by adopting these measures, it will improve the experience of the vast majority of visitors who come to enjoy the tranquility and unique qualities of the New Forest. The New Forest welcomes responsible visitors.