The New Forest is an outstanding area of open heath and woodland covering some 37,500 hectares between the southern coastal towns of Southampton and Bournemouth.
The Forest’s character and ecology is largely maintained by the grazing of livestock owned by smallholders and farmers, known locally as commoners. There are about five hundred practicing commoners in the New Forest, exercising their Forest Rights and paying marking fees on about 7000 animals each year, not all of which will be out on the Forest at any one time.
The New Forest Commoners Defence Association (CDA) was founded in 1909 in response to the increasing conflict between the spreading urban populations around the New Forest’s fringes and the commoners’ animals. The CDA celebrated its centenary year in 2009.