THE grounds of a New Forest tourist attraction were destroyed after a vehicle circled the park and left wheel marks.

It appears that the field at national park Longslade Bottom, in Brockenhurst, has been driven onto by the vehicle despite wooden posts that instruct motorists not to drive onto the field.

The “rare” habitat of lowland dry acid grassland is regularly used by livestock and animals to feed on.

Nearby resident Adie Callaghan has reacted by saying damage to the site is becoming a “regular occurrence”.

She said: “We were absolutely disgusted. It is so mashed up.

“Our nine-year-old son was so sad - he kept asking us, why people would do that?

"How do you explain to that generation that there are people who have fun causing this kind of damage?

“We noticed they’d driven in from that side car park and it looked like they’d driven through a post - could the ditches be made deeper here or better blocking?

"It’s becoming a bit of a regular occurrence on this area so it needs to be dealt with.”

As Longslade Bottom is an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), chair of the New Forest Commoners - a group which protects grazing of the forest and represent people who own forest animals - Tony Hockley, has told of his disappointment of the destruction.

He said: “This is very disappointing. It has been developed and ploughed, and multiple species depend on the grass land.

“There are not many patches of grass like this in the Forest and we need to help people understand that this is not just normal criminal damage.

"It is much more serious than that due to it being a very rare site.”

The site, along with other parts of the New Forest, will continue to be funded with £1.5 million a year by Forestry England.

The funding is part of the environmental stewardship scheme for the Crown Lands in the area.

Tony added: “Something needs to be done to stop vehicle access.

"Trying to repair the grass in this weather will make it worse.

"Funding helps to protect the grazing and restore ditches - we may need to make the verges higher.”

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Keith Mans, said: “The New Forest National Park is a precious part of our county, both for its biodiversity and for its beauty.

"I would urge people to treat these important areas for nature with the respect they deserve; observing any restrictions on vehicles, both within the National Park and beyond, in all Hampshire’s countryside areas.”

A spokesperson for Forestry England said: “We are aware of the incident at Longslade Bottom and are looking into it.

"We would encourage anyone who has any information about the incident to report it directly to the police via 101.”

Police were called about the report of lawn damage to the national park at 12.42pm on Friday.

Officers have said enquiries are ongoing.