The Ashdown Forest Trust, who own the Forest, are carrying out a review of governance arrangements as requested by the Charities Commission.
The current governance arrangements were established over 40 years ago, and whilst they have served the Forest well, work is now beginning to ensure these arrangements are brought up to date and are fit for the future management of the Forest.
Through the centuries the Forest has changed hands several times and today is owned by the Ashdown Forest Trust, with elected members of East Sussex County Council as Trustees.
Two meetings have been held by the Board of Conservators to gain the views of Commoners, residents, Forest users and supporters. These meetings raised a number of important issues and a range of opinions and concerns about future governance arrangements for Ashdown Forest.
The Chairman of the Board of Conservators, Roy Galley said:
The Board were delighted with the turnout at the meetings, the interest shown and the commitment there is from everyone to protect the Forest. We want to ensure that over the coming weeks there is the opportunity for views to be heard and considered by the Ashdown Forest Trust Review.
The Chairman confirmed that any changes in governance arrangements must continue to protect the Forest as enshrined in the Ashdown Forest Act 1974:
It shall be the duty of the Conservators at all times as far as possible to regulate and manage the forest as an amenity and place of resort subject to the existing rights of common upon the forest and to protect such rights of common, to protect the forest from encroachments, and to conserve it as a quiet and natural area of outstanding beauty.
The Board are expecting a report from the Ashdown Forest Trust in late April 2016 and they will be updating the Ashdown Forest website with information and future meeting dates.