Maintain sustainable forestry and woodland management as important Forest
land uses which benefit the local economy, while making sure they help to
conserve the special landscape character and wildlife of the Forest
There is a long tradition of forestry and woodland management within the New Forest and many local businesses and jobs are still dependent on woodland products. Woodland comprises some 21,000ha. of the total land area covered by this Strategy, of which about 8,000ha. is within private ownership. Woodland cover is concentrated on the Crown Lands and on the large estates of the enclosed Forest, but there are also numerous woods of varying sizes owned by conservation organisations or smaller private estates and farms. Many woodlands are protected primarily for nature
conservation and amenity use. However, the 8,500ha. of Inclosures on the Crown Lands are also in part used for timber production where this can be integrated with nature conservation objectives, and many privately owned woodlands have been planted specifically for commercial purposes.
Timber markets, particularly for softwoods, are relatively well developed in the Forest and surrounding region. Currently sawmills in the area have the capacity to process over 100,000 tonnes of timber each year, although recently they have come under increasing pressure to compete with imported products. This has resulted in some reduction of both capacity and timber value.
The Forestry Commission works in partnership with the major processors through long term contracts to help maintain business stability. Currently the Forestry Commission is the single largest local supplier, producing about 50,000 tonnes of timber per annum from the New Forest. This comprises largely softwoods, but also a proportion of small diameter hardwood. Supporting a well-developed timber processing industry is fundamental in maintaining sustainably managed woodlands which contribute both to the rural economy and to the ecological diversity of woodlands. The industry as a whole, including contractors, hauliers and retailers, is an important source of employment in the Forest and contributes about £3 million annually to the local economy.