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Sunday, 22 May 2011

National Park Chairman encourages Forest residents to send in their views

The New Forest National Park Authority is encouraging people across the Forest to feed in their views about the future of England’s forests and woods, following the call today (12 May) for views by the Independent Panel on Forestry.

The Independent Panel has been set up to advise Government on the future of England's forests and woods by April 2012. It has a wide-ranging remit including advising on the future direction of forest and woodland policy.

Today the Panel announced initial visits to the Forest of Dean, Northumberland, and Kent. It asked people to send in their views on forests and woods in England, and what this part of our landscape can and should provide, now and in the future.

New Forest National Park Chairman Julian Johnson said: ‘It is good to hear that the Panel is initiating site visits and following confirmation of these first visits we would hope that the Panel would schedule more and come to the New Forest; we will be seeking clarification on this.

I am sure the visits will reinforce the value of connecting with local people and why it will be important for them to come to the New Forest. The unique way the Open Forest is looked after, through the ancient practice of commoning and the efforts of a wide range of partners working together, can only be fully appreciated first-hand.

It is important that the Panel understands the particular characteristics of the New Forest – the pressures on the landscape, the diversity and the numbers of visitors who come here.

Now we know what questions are being asked by the Panel, we can consider them in more detail. National Park Authority members will discuss their response to the call for views at the next Authority meeting on 23 June ahead of the deadline for comments on 31 July.

There are excellent examples of good practice across the New Forest and I would encourage everyone to put their views forward.

To find out more about the Forestry Panel and how to give them your views, visit: www.defra.gov.uk/rural/forestry/panel/

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