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Forest rights

Forest Rights

Commoners of the New Forest are those who occupy land or property to which attaches one or more rights over the Forest. These rights are:

The most important right is the Common of Pasture. Those who wish to exercise this right must apply to the Verderers' Clerk who will confirm the existence of the right and allocate a brand for the animals. Once branded, they may be turned out into the Forest upon payment of a Marking Fee to the local Agister.

Commoners' Newsletter

The Commoners' Newsletter (Spring 14) is available for download.

Atlas of Rights

The Verderers hold the Atlas of Forest Rights. The Atlas may be inspected at the office by appointment with the Clerk to the Verderers. To undertake an inspection, please contact the Verderers' Office. The New Forest Research and Publication TrustOpens in a new window publishes a guide to the Forest Atlases.

In November 2014, the Verderers updated the guide to searches of the Atlas of Forest Rights and the schedule of fees - download the guide.

Atlas of Forest Rights
An Atlas of Forest Rights

Information for solicitors

The Court has issued the following guidance on searches for Solicitors: If you are carrying out a search to discover whether or not property in the New Forest is subject to (i.e. burdened by the exercise of) rights of common, please note that the Clerk to the Verderers holds no records which can assist you. To the best of the Verderers' knowledge, no such records exist. The following note sets out the position in detail:


  1. By Section 11 of the Commons Registration Act 1965, the New Forest is excluded from the registration provisions of that Act. This has led to some difficulties for solicitors and others carrying out searches and frequently results in enquiries being addressed to the Verderers of the New Forest which their Clerk is not in a position to answer.
  2. The present boundary or perambulation of the New Forest was laid down by the New Forest Act 1964 (section 1). There are significant differences between the area now within the Forest and its extent before 1964. The definitive maps of the boundary on a scale of 1:10560 may be inspected at the Verderers' Office. It is regretted that copies and extracts cannot be supplied. However, the line of this boundary is shown on the Ordnance Survey 1:50000 Landranger Map and the 1:25000 Outdoor Leisure Map of the New Forest. It should be noted that the Ordnance Survey's plotting of this boundary is imprecise in some areas, particularly around Cadnam.
  3. There has been no judicial interpretation of Section 11 of the Commons Registration Act 1965, but it is believed that the registration authority refused to accept registration of common rights exercisable over any land within the boundary of the Forest as defined by the New Forest Act 1964.
  4. There is no definitive register showing what lands within the Forest are subject to common rights. The Clerk to the Verderers may in many cases be able to give an informed opinion as to the likelihood of particular pieces of land being subject to rights, but this will be no more than general guidance. Persons investigating the title of land within the Forest will, in the final resort, have to rely on their own researches.
  5. As to rights of common exercisable over land within the New Forest, the Clerk to the Verderers holds two statutory atlases. Full details of all rights exercisable over land in the ownership of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food or acquired from him subject to common rights will be provided on payment of the appropriate fee. These rights may be attached to land either inside or outside the 1964 boundary.
  6. The second atlas deals only with common of pasture. It shows those lands inside or outside the boundary to which are attached rights of common of pasture over certain commons within the boundary of 1964 but outside the boundary of 1801. Maps showing this latter boundary may be inspected at the Verderers' Office but are not generally available elsewhere. Again, no copies or extracts can be supplied. There is no definitive record of other rights over this land and the Clerk to the Verderers can supply no information on such rights. Details are likely to be obtained only from local research and enquiry. Interested persons are referred to Dr Tavener's "The Common Lands of Hampshire" but it must be remembered that this book predates the New Forest Act 1964 and the Commons Registration Act 1965. Some of his conclusions as to common rights in the New Forest and the extent of surviving commons are open to question. The Clerk holds no information as to rights exercisable over common land within the 1801 boundary of the Forest except where it is in the ownership of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food or has been acquired from him subject to common rights. Except in the parish of Minstead, however, the extent of such other commonable land (not in or formerly in the ownership of the Minister) is very limited.

Revised TB Control Plan for the Forest

A revised (Oct 2016) TB control plan was issued by the Verderers, and a blanket movement licence, signed, for all common graziers to allow exemption from pre-movement testing requirements for Forest cattle movements onto and off the Forest, valid 1 July 2017 for one year. The Verderers have also now received the licence for 2018-19, valid 1 July 2018.

Marking fees

The Marking Fees for 2012-2017 are:

Horse Passport and Microchipping Regulations 2009

The Court has issued guidance to the Horse Passport and Microchipping Regulations 2009Opens in a new window as it relates to New Forest ponies.

Pannage Season

The 2018 Pannage season is Monday 10th September until Sunday 11th November.

Pannage is the practice of turning out domestic pigs in a wood or forest in order that they may feed on fallen acorns, beech mast, chestnuts or other nuts. Historically, it was a right or privilege granted to local people on common land and it is still an important part of the New Forest’s ecology. It helps the husbandry of the other New Forest livestock – pigs can safely eat acorns as a large part of their diet, whereas excessive amounts are poisonous to ponies and cattle.

Owners of property abutting the Forest are reminded that it is their responsibility to fence out Forest animals from their land. Fences that keep ponies and cattle out will not necessarily be adequate to stop pigs.

Commoners who wish to exercise their right of pannage are reminded that they must arrange for their Agister to inspect, mark and ring their pigs at least 14 days before they turn them out.

Clostridial disease in cattle

The death of 3 adult cattle on the forest belonging to a single commoner was reported recently (Nov 2016). All the cattle died after a short illness. Post mortem examination of one of the carcases indicated that it died from Haemorrhagic Jejunitis, a severe inflammation of the small intestine. The probable cause being Clostridium perfringens which was isolated from the lesion. The animal presented as being very dull with complete loss of appetite, scouring with both fresh blood and melena (black tarry blood) in the faeces and a low temperature. It died despite treatment. The other animals belonging to the Commoner have been vaccinated against Clostridial diseases and there have been no further reported cases.

These cases serve to remind us that there is always risk of Clostridial disease which is very difficult to treat in any of its different forms though it is generally preventable by vaccination. If you have any concerns or wish to have your stock vaccinated then please contact your veterinary surgeon. The link will give you some further information on the different forms of Clostridial disease: http://www.nadis.org.uk/bulletins/clostridial-disease-in-cattle.aspx

Peter Tunney BVMS MRCVS (Honorary Veterinary Surgeon to Commoners Defence Association), Seadown Veterinary Group.

David Coombes BSc, BVSc, MRCVS DBR, Cedar Farm Practice .


Proposals are currently being formulated for a study of strangles and the semi-feral pony herd in the New Forest. This study will hopefully take place in 2015 in conjunction with the Animal Health Trust who are very interested in assisting the Verderers to eradicate strangles from the Forest herd. A note providing information on strangles and the Forest is here.

Stallion Areas

The Stallion Areas for 2018 and the turn-out dates are available here.

Stallion Scheme

Details of the 2017 Stallion Scheme are available here.


The dates of the drifts for this year and next year are here: 2017, 2018.

The Verderers have taken the decision to advise members of the public using the press and this website on the dates and locations of forthcoming drifts to ensure they can are advised and can avoid the areas.

In recent years, more and more members of the general public have been attending the drifts but unfortunately, the ever increasing number of spectators is causing disruption and is interfering with the management of the drifts. If the number of spectators continues to increase, the drifts may well be in jeopardy. The official pony drifts are an essential part of the management of the semi-feral herd and their loss would seriously compromise the health and welfare of the ponies on the Forest.

The drifts are not a spectator sport and unfortunately for the reasons stated above, the Verderers now have no option but to strongly discourage the public from attending. Your co-operation in staying away from the drifts will be greatly appreciated.

Organised Events and the Drifts

Organisers of events in the Forest, such as cycle rides/races, orienteering, rambling, sponsored horse-rides etc., should be aware that the drifts are carried out from mid-August to early November each year. Such activities which take place on the Crown Lands of the Forest are only permitted with the consent of the Forestry Commission (Tel: 023 8028 3141). However, even those events which take place on the public highway may well conflict with a pony drift and the Verderers advise organisers to contact the Verderers' Office to ensure that the drifts and your event are not taking place in the same area, at the same time.

Organisers of events in the New Forest (including those using public highways) are advised to contact the Verderers’ Office if their event falls on the same day as a drift.

Beaulieu Road Pony Sales

The Verderers are not involved with the pony sales and do not hold information. The sales are held by Southern Counties Auctioneers (01722 321215) under the auspices of the New Forest Livestock SocietyOpens in a new window. All sales start at 10:30 a.m. Catalogues and information may be obtained from the auctioneers a week or two before the sales. In 2016, sales will be held on:

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