Foot and Mouth Disease and the New Forest

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New Forest Scenes

So far, no cases of Foot and Mouth Disease have been reported in the New Forest area. The Forest is now completely open again!

When Foot and Mouth disease was first discovered in the UK, immediate precautions were taken nationwide to prevent the spread of the disease, including removal of cattle from the Forest.

 

 

The Forestry Commission stopped all public movement, including no access to all lay-bys and car parks. It was forbidden for pedestrians and cyclists to enter Forestry land.

 
Disinfectant mats were laid across roads entering the Forest.

Easter 2001 brought the relaxation of the restrictions, mainly due to pressures from the Tourist industry. Limited areas of the Forest were opened, around the Bolderwood, Rhinefield and Wilverley Plain areas. This policy was initially strongly opposed by the Commoners, who would perhaps had a better case if they had removed all their ponies from the Forest. Early May and the commoners' cattle were re-introduced to the Forest, as the numbers of new cases of the disease reduced throughout the country. From 11th May, the Forest re-opened to the public, although some car parks were still closed. The disinfectant mats were all removed from 1st June. From 15th June, all car parks re-opened and things are now back to normal, although dogs must still be walked on leads on Forest land. On 20th July this restriction was lifted, although there is talk of a new law being introduced (the CROW Act) to enforce dogs on leads between March and July each year and in the vicinity of livestock. Protest groups are already making themselves heard.

During the past few months there was still considerable activity by the Forestry Commission, who cut down many trees and churned up the forest tracks. One wonders how they can possibly justify any criticism of the public causing damage with their dogs and bicycles!

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