New Forest Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) Scheme
Higher Level Stewardship Agreement (585 KB)
The New Forest HLS scheme is to restore and enhance internationally important habitats of the New Forest.
The scheme for the New Forest came about on 1 March 2010 as a result of a successful bid to Natural England and Defra by a partnership of the Verderers, The Forestry Commission and the New Forest National Park Authority.
Key to sustaining the delicate balance of habitat, the shape and landscape of the New Forest is the ancient practice of commoning, the pasturing of livestock on the Forest. Commoning is no longer financially viable but is critical to sustain the ecology and landscape.
Overall the HLS scheme is worth £16m over 10 years, funded equally by UK and the EU through Defra. Up to £800,000 may be spent annually on grazing to support the practice of commoning and £750,000 to be spent on wetland restoration. In the first year HLS funded over 50 projects that included:
- Grazing payment scheme for commoners
- Laying piped water to the Beaulieu Road Sales yard
- Stream restoration at Longwater Lawn and at Akercome and Claypits bottom
- Bracken harvesting equipment
- Reflective collars for ponies
- Protecting pony bloodlines
- Non-native plant project
- A Census of Commoning