Foxbury heathland restoration project

Foxbury in the summer, New Forest, Hampshire

We acquired the 350 acre site in 2005, at which time it was a conifer plantation, with an aim to restore the site back to lowland heathland and reconnect it back with the rest of the New Forest.

Since then we have removed a large majority of the pine trees and invasive rhododendron, leaving the native broad leafed trees, and allowing the gorse, heather, wild flowers, native trees and shrubs to re-establish.

Along with establishing lowland heathland, we are also planting 20,000 trees on the site, to create native broadleaved woodland and ensure a sustainable future for Foxbury.

Volunteers planting trees at Foxbury, New Forest, Hampshire

We're planting thousands of trees 

We're planting 26 hectares - that’s 22,000 trees - of native broad-leafed woodland in Foxbury, in the heart of the New Forest. This is our biggest heathland restoration project in England, and the trees will support thousands of wildlife species.

As well as tree planting, currently our management work revolves around continued removal of invasive species, such as rhododendron and pine saplings, and control of invasive birch saplings.

We also graze the site with a herd of belted galloway cattle and three New Forest ponies to keep the grasses and saplings at bay.

So far we have had great success with heathland wildlife occupying the site, including breeding pairs of nightjar and dartford warbler, reptiles such as common lizards and adders, as well as a diverse array of insects, such as green hairstreak butterflies.

Cattle grazing in the forest
Gorse and cattle in Foxbury in the New Forest, Hampshire
Cattle grazing in the forest

First and foremost, Foxbury is a site of conservation, and access remains by invitation only. However, we regularly run our own events and the site can also be hired.

The site has over 4 miles of wide all-weather gravel trackways, meaning these activities don’t cause any detriment to the establishing lowland heathland habitats or wildlife.

Tree-lined path in Foxbury
tree-lined path in Foxbury, New Forest, Hampshire
Tree-lined path in Foxbury

We are also now part of an exciting new Heritage Lottery Fund project in the New Forest, called “Our Past, Our Future”.

The National Trust has been given a grant to fund its woodland planting and improve infrastructure within Foxbury to facilitate educational and recreational activities, with an aim to connect with local communities and take pressures off the open forest.