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Common of Fuelwood -
 wood for the fire

Chopping fuelwood in Brick Kiln Inclosure
Chopping fuelwood in Brick Kiln Inclosure

Whatever the season, a walk in a New Forest woodland inclosure is a joy, brightened by the glory of the trees and the immensely varied wildlife that inhabits these places.

But notice often by the ride-sides, stacks of timber that if from coniferous trees provide a deliciously sweet, lingering aroma to thrill the nostrils and make the occasion even more memorable.

Many of these stacks await collection by New Forest commoners, local people who enjoy the common right known as Common of Fuelwood.

Also known as Estovers, Assignment Wood and Sign Wood, Common of Fuelwood allows those whose property is associated with the right, to cut and collect a stipulated amount of wood from the New Forest, but only for personal use in the hearth to which the right relates.

It is not practical or desirable, however, to allow indiscriminate felling in many of these beautiful old woods, so Forestry Commission staff now cut the Common of Fuelwood timber, almost always from the forestry inclosures rather than the ancient, unenclosed woodlands.

Fewer commoners than previously, however, enjoy Common of Fuelwood as a right, for in the last 150 years, or so, the Forestry Commission and its predecessor, the Office of Woods, bought-out individual rights from commoners willing to sell.

But stacks of ‘cord wood’ piled beside New Forest tracks are still a relatively frequent sight, a reminder of times when Common of Fuelwood perhaps had more value than in today’s centrally heated world.

References:
A Wild Heritage – The History and Nature of the New Forest: Terry Heathcote
Verderers of the New Forest: http://www.verderers.org.uk/

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** New Forest ponies **
New Forest ponies in the road
Ponies, cattle, pigs, sheep and donkeys are a popular part of the New Forest scene, but during the first six months of 2018, 36 animals were killed or injured on Forest roads, compared with 26 in the same period in 2017, a shocking rise of 38%.
** Always take care when driving **
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley