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New Forest Rural Skills

New Forest Rural Skills

Lead Partner

New Forest Land Advice Service

What is it about?

The New Forest Land Advice Service and the Commoners Defence Association have developed this project to deliver a training programme for young farmers, young commoners, farmers and commoners, and other landowners and managers around the New Forest.

These courses will be run at Sparsholt Agricultural College, with practical training at various New Forest locations. The focus will be on giving the next generation of landowners the necessary knowledge and skills to sustain the traditional systems (coppicing, hedge-laying) and provide older generations the new skills required for today’s modern-day agricultural requirements.

The courses will encourage best practice management of land, integrating economic needs with management for wildlife habitats. This will cover subject areas such as pasture and soil management, environmental and sustainable land management, wildlife conservation on the farm, understanding more about record keeping and farm paperwork, and farming. It will also set up a mentoring programme to pass on knowledge from experienced commoners to new and young commoners.

Watch the Rural Skills and Better Boundaries video:

Rural Skills Training Course

As a result of the project:

  • Young and new commoners and farmers will gain new skills such as pasture management, soils and livestock management, which will ensure that commoners’ animals and the private lands of the New Forest are well managed and kept in favourable condition
  • Knowledge from more experienced commoners will be passed on to new or young commoners through a mentoring programme for 15 mentors and ‘students’
  • The natural heritage will benefit as the practical courses will result in 0.75 hectares of woodland coppiced and 150m of hedgerow laid and surveyed.
Volunteering and training

The mentors within the mentoring programme, although they will be paid a nominal amount for their time mentoring someone for a year, are in effect volunteers as the majority of their time they give will be free. In addition, members of the Commoners Defence Association will volunteer their time to advise and support the project across the three year period.

A number of courses will be run on livestock, land management, deer stalking, woodland and trees, working with chemicals, machinery and business training etc. Mentors will also be given training in mentoring/coaching skills and the ‘students’ will be trained in communication skills so that they are well equipped to write a blog, use social media and/or make films of their time in the mentoring scheme.

Visit the training and volunteering pages for information on specific roles within the Our Past, Our Future landscape partnership scheme.


It is hoped that the mentoring scheme will be continued beyond the funded life of the project at a relatively low cost if mentors can be maintained or new volunteers found.

Contact details

Richard Austin – OPOF Training and Volunteer Co-ordinator

Tel: 01590 646661 email:

Land Advice Service Manager


'We help commoners to continue their ancient way by providing grants, training and advice.'

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