ABSTRACT

In September 2008, in a quiet, affluent corner of southern England known as the New Forest, there appeared to be the makings of a revolution. Notices erected across the Forest, illustrating a pony, had the initials “F U” emblazoned across its rear, representing the logo of the newly formed “Forest Uprising” group. The group had been formed hurriedly in response to the release of a consultation draft of the National Park Plan for the New Forest. The plan, a statutory document to which all statutory bodies must adhere, essentially formed the manifesto of the recently constructed New Forest National Park Authority, a part-elected, part-appointed panel of members established to govern the area on its designation as a national park in 2005. To all intents and purposes, the Forest Uprising looked like a classic challenge from long-established forest users to a Johnnie-come-lately governing authority. Indeed, any outside observer might see it as a case of traditional forest activists resisting redistribution of rights or protesting their lack of participation in political decision-making procedures. However, although the Forest Uprising showed all the signs of a forest rights campaign for equity recognition and participation, appearances can be deceptive.