I WOULD like to respond to the letter (Postbag, December 22) from Mr Dickenson, of NFDog, to help clarify the position.

Last year, the Progress Project commissioned an independent study to estimate the number of dogs using the Forest and the implications of this use.

It is perfectly true that the figures produced were rough estimates and, indeed, this is stated within the report.

However, the report did serve to identify a clear problem: there is too much dog mess being left around car parks and public areas.

This is a matter of concern for a large section of the public, as evidenced by the many letters of complaint received on this topic.

The Project began a small campaign to encourage pick-up at some selected car parks.

NFDog could have supported this campaign but instead chose to focus all their energies on contesting the figures in the report.

The Project gained permission from the verderers to install dog litter-bins at six car parks popular with dog-walkers.

Since October, a count of dog deposits has been done at these sample car parks on a fortnightly basis: Godshill Cricket 33-82, Deerleap 70-159, Linford Bottom 32-42, Wilverley Plain 31-61, Longslade Bottom 32-77, and Dibden Inclosure 27-54.

These figures show only the waste counted close to the car parks and confirm cause for concern.

No mother would be happy to let her children play on a green' with so much dog waste lying around.

The droppings of horses and cattle are different from those of dogs. The Forest animals are recycling the natural vegetation, not importing preservative-treated waste with high nitrogen and phosphorous content.

In addition, dog waste can carry a risk of toxocariasis infection.

It is recognised that the Forest is a great place to walk dogs, and dog-walkers continue to be welcome.

The Progress Project is simply asking dog-owners to be considerate of other users and to bag and bin the waste around car parks and footpaths.

We welcome the stated intention of NFDog to join us in encouraging pick-up and look forward to seeing the first practical demonstration of this intended co-operation.

KEITH CAMPBELL, Progress Project Co-ordinator, Address supplied