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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 June 2005, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
Forest code to halt bad behaviour
New Forest Pony

Bad behaviour by dog owners, cyclists and horse riders in the UK's newest national park is being tackled by a new code of conduct.

The new codes aim to safeguard the New Forest and explain how the public can look after the flora and fauna.

The codes explain the dangers of feeding the wild ponies and donkeys and why speeds have to be kept below 40mph.

In March the ancient hunting grounds become the UK's smallest national park and the first in England for 50 years.

The Forest Code
Guard against all risk of fire
Protect trees, plants and wildlife
Leave things as you find them, take nothing away
Keep dogs under control
Avoid damaging buildings, fences, hedges, walls and signs
Leave no litter

Designed to appeal to all age groups, the guides use cartoons to illustrate the main points.

They will be available to locals and tourists alike, to promote understanding and to help save the forest.

Keith Campbell, co-ordinator of the new guides, said: "Although the majority of visitors respect the area and act responsibly, some are unaware that their actions could damage the fabric of the forest - it is these people that we hope the best practice guides will reach.

"If everyone does their bit to protect this unique environment, between us we can all ensure that the forest will remain a wonderful place for years to come."

The 250 square mile boundaries of the New Forest Park are much smaller than the area originally proposed two years ago, and now exclude the valley of the river Avon to the west of the forest and Dibden Bay to the east.

The New Forest National Park Authority will receive an annual government grant of about 3.5m, to be spent on conservation projects.

What do you think of the new codes of conduct in the New Forest? Do you think they will help tackle bad behaviour?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

As someone who travels several times a day across the New Forest, I notice that it's not the visitors who break the 40mph speed limit, it's some of the locals who use the New Forest roads as a rat-run to avoid the jams on the main roads outside. Unfortunately, many of the slow downs on the A35 and other main roads outside the Forest are caused by visitors who think they are still within the New Forest's 40 mph limit! Read the speed limit signs and if there aren't any then step on the accelerator, or get back into the Forest!
Peter L'barrow, Highcliffe on Sea, Dorset

As a resident of the new forest I'm only to aware of the behaviour of some of our visitors but I don't think any code of conduct will combat antisocial antics by either locals or visitors, what we need is better policing and punishments that fit the crimes, if you are caught littering the forest then you should be made to collect your own body weight in litter as a punishment, and as for people who abuse animals I suggest we bring back the stocks.
John Waring, Blackfield, Hants

The money would perhaps have been better spent on some park rangers. They are likely to be more of a deterrent to the minority of people who continue to demonstrate a lack of respect to the forest.
John Hutchence, Bournemouth

If we are fined for cleaning up the mess of our dogs then I hope that the horses, donkeys and cows are also fined for messing on the forest - it is ludicrous!
Paul, Southampton

A code of conduct is a good idea but will not affect the small minority of walkers, cyclist and horse riders who have no respect for the countryside or other trail users. I don't think legislation is the answer to this type of issue.
Justin Hill, East Kent, UK

If it could help further the understanding of others then it's probably a good thing, but there will always be a few with complete disregard for it.
Alison, Leicester

What do I think of the new codes of conduct? Condescending and pointless. People who respect the countryside know to leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photographs, those that don't will simply ignore any codes of conduct and continue in their selfish and ignorant ways.
Ewen, Leicester

I have to say I think it is a brilliant idea but do not think it will combat the bad behaviour. I visit the New Forest often but am slowly going off visiting down to the rude and ignorant attitude of other motorists and motor cyclists in particular. I stay under 40 but get pushed along by other motorists and certainly the majority of bikers speed and overtake other cars in dangerous situations. I hope that this does have an impact but am sure it won't make a difference to the road users.
Tina Bowers, Horndean, Hampshire

I understand and agree with the Codes of Conduct but I feel very sad that these rules have to be put in place as people should not have to be reminded to have respect for the animals and places around them, it should be common sense. However, we are finding more and more these days that people no longer have these qualities.
Michelle Flowers, Dagenham, England

New Forest becomes national park
01 Mar 05 |  Hampshire
New Forest national park date set
24 Feb 05 |  Hampshire
New Forest is national park
28 Jun 04 |  Hampshire

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