The New Forest is one of the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in Southern England, covering southwest Hampshire and southeast Wiltshire. It was proclaimed a royal forest by William the Conqueror, featuring in the Domesday Book.
It is the home of the New Forest Commoners, whose ancient rights of common pasture are still recognised and exercised, enforced by official verderers and agisters. In the 18th century, the New Forest became a source of timber for the Royal Navy. It remains a habitat for many rare birds and mammals.
The boundaries of the forest have varied over time and depend on the purpose of delimiting them. It is a 220 square mile biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest. Several areas are Geological Conservation Review sites, including Mark Ash Wood, Shepherd’s Gutter, Cranes Moor, Studley Wood, and Wood Green. There are also a number of Nature Conservation Review sites.