The name is as recent as 1079 when King William requisitioned this most ancient common land as a royal hunting ground. And today the New Forest is a Natural Park of open sandy heathland interspersed with boggy wetland, as well as deciduous and coniferous woodland. Still living here are a number of geriatric oak trees, 300 to 400 years old.
Before ‘forestation’, this area was managed by locals who utilised the wood, and fenced off areas for their animals. Such common grazing rights are still in place today, although commoners’ claims to the land were lost to royal acquisition.
Coppicing, grazing, and felling of decaying trees both then and now keeps the woodland light and airy enough for diverse flora and fauna to flourish.
With seductive forest pathways pulling in all directions and the gems of the forest floor distracting attention, it is not difficult to lose one’s way amongst the hundreds of acres. And of course what many visitors come in search of is one of Britain’s wildlife gems – New Forest ponies – native to the British Isles with an ancestry of 2000 years. There are several thousand of them here though locating them is not as obvious as their numbers suggest. Still, its worth the find.
1. ‘Forest’ was used to describe an area of land that had been ‘afforested’ (purchased under law) and designated as land to be used for royal privileges, ie hunting. The name, New Forest, is a direct translation from the Norman Nova Foresta. New Forest National Park
Am joining in with Michelle’s Nature Notes #309 – stop over @ramblingwoods to see wildlife from around the globe