The New Forest was only designated a National Park in 2005, but the forest is far from new. As far back as 1079 William the Conqueror designated the area as a Royal Forest for private hunting, and at the time people were forced to leave their settlements. As well as taller trees, there are large areas of lowland habitats, including bogs and heath land which provide for a wealth of flora and fauna. Today ponies graze on wild heaths speckled with purple heather and wild deer flit beneath gnarled oak and beech trees. Streams flow to the wide expanse of the Solent where forest meets shining sea.