THE New Forest was the focus of a new documentary exploring the factors which make it one of the UK’s most important woodlands.

Presented by writer and environmentalist Peter Owen-Jones in conjunction with the Forestry Commission and the National Park Authority, the 60-minute programme follows a year in the life of the Forest.

A team from Big Wave spent a total of 70 days in the area, filming the snow as well as the long, hot summer.

Guided by Forestry Commission rangers and wildlife experts, the Big Wave film-makers captured breathtaking images of rare wildlife such as goshawks, which are making a comeback after coming close to extinction. The documentary also explores the Forest’s famous wetland areas, which are home to countless types of insects.

Mr Owen-Jones said: “The New Forest is a timeless place – a rare window into the wild wood that once covered much of the British Isles.

“Finding out more about the Forest has revealed a remarkable story of how the landscape, its wildlife and people have evolved together.”

The programme focuses on the importance of commoners – villagers with the right to let their ponies, cows and donkeys roam the ancient landscape.

Supporters of commoning say the animals munch their way through vast amounts of vegetation every year, preventing the area from becoming an overgrown wilderness.

The documentary also examines the role the Forest played in supporting the Royal Navy in the 16th and 17th centuries. It produced huge amounts of timber for the construction of warships, many of which were built at Buckler’s Hard.

The Forestry Commission’s most senior officer in the area, deputy surveyor Bruce Rothnie, said: “The film helps show what a special place the New Forest is and the unique habitat it provides for so many rare species of wildlife and plants. In 2019 we’ll be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the legislation that created national parks in this country and will be encouraging everyone to get involved in our Year of Green Action, supporting those who are conserving and enhancing the New Forest for future generations.”

New Forest: A Year in the Wild Wood was screened yesterday on BBC Four.