A report acknowledging that woods and forests are great places to ride and that spending time in and among trees and green space can improve physical and mental health, is promising news for equestrians, the British Horse Society says.
The charity has cautiously welcomed the findings, set out in the Report of The Independent Panel on Forestry.
The BHS also believes that the Panel’s recognition that ‘the quality of access to the public forest estate is unrivalled and that this should be secured for the nation for the long term’ is a great step forward in preserving the safe off-road access that woods and forests currently provide for equestrians.
Mark Weston, Director of Access, Safety and Welfare at the BHS, said: “It is unfortunate that the Panel has not specifically recognised the discriminatory nature of charging permits to equestrians for informal access in certain forests.
“However, we hope that it is implicit in their recommendation that, ‘the quantity and quality of access to public and privately owned woodlands, by incentivising provision through a combination of paths or open access should be measurably increased,’ that permits for informal equestrian access should be scrapped.”
The BHS continues to maintain that informal access to woods and forests should be on the same basis for all non-motorised users, and that equestrian access across the freehold public forest estate should be dedicated under section 16 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.