NEW data has revealed the economies of National Parks, including the New Forest, have prospered over a five-year period.

Analysis of figures from the Office of National Statistics has showed communities and businesses in these rural areas are playing a part in national prosperity and wellbeing since the previous assessment in 2013.

It is claimed the high quality natural environment and special qualities National Parks feature helped to achieve this growth.

The New Forest National Park Authority performed particularly well, rated as the most productive among National Parks, with £57,244 generated for the local economy per-employee. The New Forest also contributes 14 per cent of the National Parks’ overall GVA, second only to the South Downs.

The figures show that nationally between 2012 and 2016:

The Gross Value Added (GVA) of National Park economies grew in real terms in the range £1.4bn to £2.4bn

The number of businesses in National Parks grew by 10 per cent to more than 25,000

More than 21,000 jobs were created

Business turnover was £13bn (up from £10.4bn in 2012).

Paul Walton, head of environment and rural economy at New Forest National Park Authority, said: “The New Forest National Park is home to over 2,000 businesses, many of whom actively contribute to, or are dependent upon, the special qualities of our protected landscape.

“Many more beyond the National Park boundary recognise the value of being located close to such a high quality environment, as demonstrated by the support for the recently launched Green Halo Partnership. The New Forest National Park is a key asset to the local economy and we are committed to ensuring it remains a high quality place to live and work.”

Minister for National Parks Lord Gardiner said: “I am delighted National Parks are providing such an economic boost for the nation and the rural communities living and working in them.

“They are not only some of our most beautiful and precious landscapes, but also home to so many small and medium sized businesses driving the rural economy.”