ENFORCEMENT powers in place this summer to protect the New Forest from wild fires led to the team intervening in incidents involving more than 700 people. 

The new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) powers were used to intervene in more than 150 incidents which included petting and feeding New Forest ponies or donkeys or using BBQs and lighting fires. 

Salisbury Journal: New PSPOs to protect the New ForestNew PSPOs to protect the New Forest (Image: Photo Agency)Read more: Animal charity warns dog walkers about seasonal dangers

Community manager for Forestry England, Charlotte Belcher said: “Our focus in these first few months of these new rules has really been on education. Together with our partners and the local community, a huge amount of effort has gone into making sure as many people as possible aware of them and understand why they are in place.”

“Talking to hundreds of people this summer it’s often the case that they just don’t realise the harm these activities can cause, especially when they try to get too close to the famous New Forest ponies."

Failure to comply could result in a fixed penalty fine or prosecution.

Salisbury Journal: No to barbecues in the New ForestNo to barbecues in the New Forest (Image: Photo Agency)

Read more: New tenant to breathe new life into hotel

The introduction of the Public Space Protection Orders follows repeated fire damage to the Forest caused by campfires and BBQs over recent years, and the growing risk of wildfires due to increasingly hotter and drier conditions.

The PSPO bans the lighting of fires of any type including BBQs and any outdoor cooking facilities or equipment. It also makes it an offence to place, throw or drop items likely to cause a fire such as discarding lit cigarettes.

Concern over the safety of the public and Forest animals, following injuries to people and animal deaths resulting from being fed human food, created the need to better manage public interactions with these free-roaming animals.

The PSPO relating to this activity bans feeding and petting ponies or donkeys on the Forest.  

Read more: Pub devastated by loss after power cut

Portfolio holder for community, safety and well-being for the New Forest District Council, Councillor Dan Poole said: “The early results of these additional powers to help the New Forest are exactly what we hoped for – education and understanding of why following the New Forest Code is so important.

"I am grateful to our partners for the positive conversations they have had with people, and I am hopeful that this good outcome will continue as we all work together to share the information of why the lighting of fires and the petting and feeding of ponies and donkeys is banned, and how to enjoy the wonderful National Park in better ways.”

Teams from Forestry England, the New Forest National Park Authority and the Verderers of the New Forest have regular patrols to engage with the public and explain more about the new rules. Signs and information are in place across the Forest.