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Thursday, 27 August 2015

New Forest Commoners Grants to support ancient tradition

Farmer Simeon Morgan with Rhys Morgan discussing New Forest Commoners Grant Scheme
Farmer Simeon Morgan with Rhys Morgan
of the New Forest Land Advice Service.
A new grants scheme has launched to provide commoners in the New Forest with much-needed funds to support their traditional way of life.

Commoners make use of ancient rights attached to their property to turn out livestock onto the open areas of the New Forest. This new scheme is intended for commoners with animals such as ponies, cattle and pigs grazing on the National Trust’s Northern Commons, which are:

  • Hale Purlieu
  • Bramshaw Commons
  • Ibsley Common
  • Rockford Common
  • Hightown Common.

The fund is administered by the New Forest Land Advice Service on behalf of the National Trust’s Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, providing individual grants of up to £1,000 for improvements such as:

  • Fencing for back up grazing sites where animals could be introduced
  • Replacing or renovating farm structures to support stock management      
  • Establishing livestock handling facilities
  • Introducing water supply to enable grazing
  • Creating hard-standing storage and feeding areas within a smallholding.

New Forest Land Advice Service Manager Julie Melin-Stubbs said: ‘We look forward to working with commoners who put animals out to graze on the Northern Commons by helping them apply to this new grants scheme.

‘Working in partnership with the National Trust, we hope to encourage commoners to undertake innovative work which will benefit their farms, livestock and the New Forest in general.’

Lee Hulin, National Trust Lead Ranger, New Forest Northern Commons, said: ‘Commoners’ free-ranging livestock are essential to the New Forest National Trust Commons, continually supporting the conservation of these precious open heath landscapes.

‘The National Trust is pleased to work with the Land Advice Service in offering grant support for sustainable commoning practice on our commons, to benefit the conservation of these areas for many years to come.’

Commoner Rick Manley, from Cadnam, said: ‘There are many challenges we face as commoners, including the ever-increasing cost of looking after animals and turning them out onto the Forest. This grant scheme should help commoners to maintain and improve the infrastructure that is essential if we are to continue with our traditional way of life.’

If you would like to find out more about applying for this grants scheme, visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/LASgrants. Alternatively email enquiries@nflandadvice.org.uk or call land adviser Rhys Morgan on 01590 646688.

The New Forest Land Advice Service is funded by the New Forest National Park Authority, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and the Verderers.

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