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Saturday, 2 July 2011

Minister Richard Benyon MP visits New Forest

Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries Richard Benyon MP was in the New Forest yesterday (Monday 9 May) at the invitation of the New Forest National Park Authority to meet local organisations and learn more about the Forest.

Mr Benyon met National Park members and officers at the New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst, and heard how successful education partnerships are making a real difference in helping people learn more about the unique landscape and wildlife in the New Forest.

Mr Benyon then visited a stream restoration project at Fletchers Thorns, off the Rhinefield Drive near Brockenhurst. The stream restoration is one of a number of projects funded by a Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme, which works to improve these internationally-important habitats and supports the ancient practice of commoning – so vital to the unique landscape of the New Forest.

(Left to right): Rachel Bailey of Natural England,
Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries Richard Benyon MP,
NPA Chairman Julian Johnson, Forestry Commission’s Acting Deputy
Surveyor Kevin Penfold (in hardhat), Verderer Richard Deakin and NPA
Chief Executive Alison Barnes view a stream restoration project near Brockenhurst.
During the site visit he met representatives from the Verderers, Forestry Commission, New Forest Association and Natural England, who worked in partnership to secure the largest HLS scheme in Europe – worth £16 million over 10 years.

Mr Benyon said: ‘Today has been a valuable opportunity to observe the effort and enthusiasm local people are putting into this ancient landscape. The New Forest has been a source of prosperity and enjoyment for many centuries. The work of the National Park Authority and its partners will ensure that this remains the case for years to come.’

National Park Authority Chairman Julian Johnson, who hosted the visit, said: ‘The Minister was particularly interested to learn how the National Park is supporting and promoting local produce through the New Forest Marque accreditation scheme, about the range of community projects under way, and how complex land management issues are in the Forest. We were keen to show the Minister that the New Forest can only thrive if the delicate balance achieved by working together is maintained and enhanced going forward.’

Kevin Penfold, the Forestry Commission’s Acting Deputy Surveyor of the New Forest, said: ‘The river restoration scheme is hugely important for the Forest and has only come about through strong partnership working between the FC, Natural England, the Verderers and the National Park Authority that has helped to secure the funding. Undertaking the work, such as seen at Fletchers Thorns, requires significant consultation with both the partners and local interest groups so we can agree what needs to be done and ensure the restoration is completed to the highest standard.'

Elected Verderer Richard Deakin told the Minister: ‘We are grateful for the HLS scheme in enabling commoning to keep going in pretty difficult circumstances and also for the legacy which it will provide.’

Recommended Reading: Agricultural Valuations: A Practical Guide

Useful link to: New Forest things to do

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