Early English Forest wildlife protection laws


In the time of the Saxons–989 AD–when Edgar the Saxon was king of England, he waged a campaign against the wolves and foxes of the forests, and the Welsh paid him an annual tribute of pelts out of gratitude. However, subsequent kings of England reversed direction and implemented policy to preserve the predators in order to maintain balance within the King’s forests.

Later on, wildlife protection was expanded under King Canutus, when in 1016 he decreed:

A forest is a certain territory of woody ground and fruitful pastures, privileged for wild beasts and fowls of forest, chase and warren, to rest and abide in, in the safe protection of the King, for his princely delight and pleasure, which territory of ground is meered and bounded with unremovable marks, meers, and boundaries, either known by matter of record, or else by prescription: and also replenished with wild beasts of venery or chase, and with great coverts of vert, for th succor of the said wild beasts to have their abode in.


Manwood, John. “A Treatise of the Laws of the Forest wherein is declared not only these laws, as they are now in force, but also the original and beginning of forests, and what a forest is in its own proper nature.” 1665, England.