The New Forest 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 Association’s main purpose is to support the right of commoners to turn their stock out on the open Forest and to promote their interests in the day-to-day management of the Forest, as well as in the wider political arena. Since its creation the Association has fought many battles on behalf of its members and their lawful right to depasture stock on the open grazing of the New Forest.
• In the 1920s the Association actively petitioned the Office of Woods, the precursor to the Forestry Commission, to improve drainage on the open Forest.
• The Association paid for the installation of telephones in the homes of Agisters, so that animals injured in the increasing toll of road accidents could be despatched more quickly.
• In 1949 the Association pressed for the introduction of the Tuberculosis Testing Scheme in the Forest, so that by 1956 the New Forest became the first area on the English mainland in which all herds had gained attested status on a voluntary basis.
• In the sixties the Association supported the campaign to grid and fence the Forest which resulted in an act of parliament in 1964.
• Alongside other Forest organisations the Association campaigned for and won a 40 mile per hour speed limit on all unfenced Forest roads.
• During the 1990s the Association developed reflective collars for ponies to increase their visibility at night. A scheme so successful that in 2008 the Verderers offered them for free to all commoners depasturing stock in the Forest.
In 1991 the "Illingworth Report" reviewed options for ensuring that the New Forest would continue to be grazed for the future, and the Principles set out were endorsed by the Government. This remains an important statement on commoning
The Association continues to defend the Forest from the threats of development and recreation, to protect its livestock from the growing volume of traffic on the unfenced roads and project the commoners’ point of view in day-to-day Forest management, as well as the political future of the Forest.