In the UK, the New Forest District is unique in its relation to the agriculture industry as it’s a new district formed around the New Forest National Park located in Hampshire, England. The national park was created as a means to preserve the timeless beauty and rich biodiversity of the old forest growth. This forest is one of the oldest forests in the country and its preservation stands on top of the priorities of the local communities.
At the core of preserving this natural treasure is the stewardship of landowners and farmers, whose crucial role in land management ensures the vitality of New Forest District. From the earliest forest settlements, agriculture has been the lifeblood of the rural economy in New Forest District. This enduring tradition has flourished on the fertile lands that embrace the heathlands, valley mires and pasture woodlands. The environment has influenced farming practices just as farming has changed the character and nature of the landscape.
In the present day, the farming economy continues to reign supreme in the National Park, tightly interwoven with the central open forest. Commoners rely on this vast expanse to graze their stock, keeping the timeless connection between agriculture and the open forest alive. It’s interesting to note that the New Forest District is one of the most populated districts in Hampshire without having any big population centres.
While the rest of the country has swiftly embraced modern automation, farmers at the New Forest District have to be mindful of how they work in protected landscapes. This is where the grant program “Farming in Protected Landscapes” steps in. Collaboratively crafted by Defra and the New Forest National Park Authority, it empowers farmers and land managers. The program champions projects that harmonize with the natural environment, combat climate change, enhance public access, and foster nature-friendly, sustainable farm enterprises.