World of wildlife

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It is a world capital for wildlife and you don’t even need a car to reach it. The New Forest National Park is one of the most important places in Europe for animals and plants.

The unique mosaic of habitats ranging from ancient woodland to open heath and valley mires is home to an extraordinary diversity of animal life.

Of course there are the famous New Forest ponies roaming free, along with donkeys, cattle and pigs in the autumn, as well as deer that provide a reminder of the Park’s past as a royal hunting forest.

Look a little more closely and you will find a colourful world of birds and dragonflies, lizards and snakes, including unusual characters such as the Dartford Warbler, the Southern blue damselfly and the sand lizard.

But you won’t see any of this from the car, so why not leave it at home and explore on foot or by bike? The train gets you right into the heart of the New Forest National Park at Ashurst, Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst or Sway. Or use the open-top New Forest Tour bus in the summer months.

Martin O'Neill
A word about the Forest

The New Forest is a peculiar place.

It can feel like medieval England and yet it is surrounded by cities, airports and motorways.

It can feel natural and yet it is deeply influenced by man and animal.

It is a wildlife haven and yet it is densely-populated too.

The New Forest is complicated and contradictory with a deep-seated historic culture and a myriad of strange customs and funny ways.

I hope that the articles in this section give an insight into the aspects that make the New Forest intriguing and distinctive.

For more try my books:

The New Forest Book of Lists
New Forest: behind the scenes
Photoguide to New Forest Ponies
Photoguide to New Forest Fungi or as an ebook
Photoguide to Lymington

For fiction set in the New Forest try:

The Forest by Edward Rutherfurd
The Magic Cottage by James Herbert
Requiem for a Wren by Neville Shute
The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Children of the New Forest by Captain Marryat