Conserving the New Forest

Look after the New Forest for everyone - including the animals

Follow the New Forest Code of Conduct

New Forest ponyThe New Forest is one of the highlights of a trip to Lymington, there are so many places to go, and it's free. However, it becomes a lot more costly to the environment and the New Forest National Park when you start to mistreat it. Here are some basic guidelines to ensure an amazing experience for you, the animals and the forest…

Don't touch or feed the ponies

The ponies are semi-wild although some may not appear so.  It is important that you do not feed them either by hand or by throwing food on the ground.  The ponies do not need it and some things may make them ill.  Unfortunately, hand feeding also makes some ponies aggressive and every year people are attacked because people feed the ponies and they become greedy and demand more.  A pony which causes injury to a person is usually removed from the Forest permanently.  That is unfair to the pony whose home is the Forest and it is unfair on its owner.  Remember the ponies belong to someone else.

Learn to recognise when a pony is feeling grumpy

Ears laid back means “go away and leave me alone” or it may mean “give me your sandwich”!  In such situations it is wise to retreat as quickly as possible!  A bite or kick from a pony hurts and the latter could break your leg.  A child could be killed.

baby donkey in East Boldre New ForestDon't drop litter

Apart from being unsightly (and illegal), dropping litter in the Forest is harmful to the animals.

Leave your binbags inside your gate

If you live or stay in a property with Forest animals just outside the gate, leave your bin-bag inside the gate and out of reach of inquisitive animals.  The animals make a horrible mess when they tear open a bag of rubbish and of course, they may injure themselves on a sharp tin or become ill if they eat the wrong things.

Don't dump hedge clippings or grass cuttings on the forest  

Strange though it may seem, as lawn mowings are after all “grass”, they are LETHAL to ponies and donkeys.  Lawn mowings left in a heap heat up and start to ferment.  If they are eaten by ponies and donkeys gas is released into the animal’s stomach and intestine.  Their stomach or intestine may then rupture and the animal dies in agony.  Clippings from yew, laburnham, rhododendron, some conifers, azaleas and many other garden plants are poisonous to animals and for these reasons all garden waste must be disposed of properly and not dumped on the Forest.

Shut gates behind you

Whether a gate goes into an inclosure, a field or a garden, it is there to keep the animals out.  Animals have come to serious harm through getting into places where they shouldn’t be. Occupiers of property within the Forest have a duty to fence against legally depastured stock.  That means if your fence is rotten or your gate is left open and a pony gets in and tramples your beautiful lawn or eats your shrubs you cannot claim compensation from the animal’s owner.  Indeed, if the animal is injured or is poisoned in your garden the owner may claim compensation from you!  There have been cases of animals falling into swimming pools (especially if they are covered with plastic sheets) and apart from the poor animal drowning, the owner of the property has been successfully sued. 

Dog on branch in New Forest HampshireKeep dogs under control  

Every year Forest animals, particularly young ones, are injured by dogs.  Some are even killed or die later from infected bites.  We all love to let our dogs run on the Forest and provided they are reliable around animals that is fine.  If in doubt, however, keep your dog on a lead.  Remember also that at certain times of year some quite rare birds nest on the ground and a nest which has been destroyed is a sorry sight.  In spring the deer have their young and a fawn left whilst mum goes to feed is very vulnerable.

Enjoy the forest and its animals  

Watch from a safe distance and enjoy the animals and the unique beauty of the Forest.  Remember that the Forest is the animals’ home and it is only fair to respect it and let them live in peace.


Reward raised to £5,000 to stop pony deaths in the New Forest. Click to read more.


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