The New Forest HLS area of 19,447 hectares is unfenced, apart from the perimeter and a number of Forestry Commission inclosures which are plantations and managed woodlands.
All the stock which is ‘depastured’ (allowed out to graze) on the New Forest is managed by the Agisters who carry out periodic management of commoning stock for purposes such as:
- welfare (removing animals in poor condition/foals for sale/weaning)
- annual testing of cattle for TB
- removing excess stock for sale.
To enable them to capture all of the grazing stock during the drifts they require fencing in certain key areas, edges of woodland, and perimeters of other areas to get the animals into holding pens. Otherwise the animals can disperse into wooded areas, making the round-up job of the Agister more difficult.
Although the Forestry Commission used to exclude stock from inclosures, the ecology of the scheme area requires conservation grazing, and it is for this reason that many fence lines are no longer in place.
The capital works scheme permitted 15,310 metres of post and wire fencing and 22 gates, to support the drifts. Additional funds to help with ‘difficult sites’, where access and ground conditions meant mechanised fencing equipment could not be used, helped to install a further 5,380 metres of fencing.
The key locations were:
1. Markway: 3,300 metres, four gates
2. Dames Slough: 5,000 metres, 12 gates
2b Dames Slough (difficult sites supplement) 2,500 metres
3. Pound Hill: 200 metres, one gate
4. Ipley: 2,800 metres, four gates
5. Dur Hill (disused railway line): 2,880 metres, no gates
5b Dur Hill (difficult sites supplement) 2,800 metres
6. Slufters: 1,130 metres, one gate.
The drift fencing was installed during 2012 by localised fencing contractors.