Welcome to the New Forest National Park
On the 1st of March 2005 the New Forest became a National Park, the first in England for many years and the first ever in the South East. This will bring greater protection and more opportunities to understand and enjoy this special place, for us and for future generations. Anyone owning or renting property that has the right of pasture attached is entitled to graze stock on the forest. More than 400 Commoners turn their cattle, pigs, ponies and donkeys out, while the Agisters police the heaths and woods, checking on the welfare of around 5000 animals all year round.
Over 900 years ago William Conqueror designated the New Forest as a royal forest and hunting ground.
It is hard to imagine the New Forest without its famous ponies. Each animal is owned by a commoner and must
be marked with an individual brand before being left to wander the open forest at will.
Anyone may become a commoner, the term simply refers to a person who owns or rents a property or plot of land
to which privileges known as rights of common are attached. More often than not they have the right of pasture
which allows them to graze stock on the open forest. About 300 commoners currently exercise this particular right.
The pony or horse was an important rural economy before the car, and the tradition of keeping them provided a valuable income.
Today, rather than work horses, the demand is for riding ponies, and only a handful of commoners are able to make their
complete living keeping stock.
The New Forest National Park - Ideas on what to do and see