NATIONAL Park chiefs have launched a two-year campaign to cut the number of tourists who explore the New Forest by car.

The National Park Authority (NPA) wants to protect the fragile environment by persuading more people to cycle around the district or use public transport.

The award-winning New Forest Tour – a summer sightseeing service – is due to be extended next year.

Two double-decker buses taking visitors around the district will be joined by a third vehicle serving the south-west corner of the Forest, including the huge Holmsley camp site.

A new bus route serving Lepe Country Park – visited by 1,000 people a day – is also under discussion.

It follows the Government’s decision earlier this year to fund new initiatives to reduce the impact of traffic on the New Forest and South Downs national parks. The Department for Transport has released almost £4m, which must be spent by 2015.

Millions of people live within a 90-minute drive of the Forest – and 96 per cent of visitors arrive by car.

New measures to tackle the problem were revealed at a meeting of the NPA, which heard that bus and rail facilities would be upgraded.

Members welcomed the scheme but said it should be extended to embrace electric cars and the Hythe passenger ferry.

They also stressed the need to reduce congestion in Lyndhurst, the Forest’s biggest bottleneck.

Pat Wyeth, who is also a district councillor for the village, said pollution levels in parts of Lyndhurst were higher than those recorded in Totton and Southampton.

Fellow NPA member Alan Rice condemned the “dinosaurs” who had repeatedly blocked moves to build a Lyndhurst bypass.

"It’s wrong that traffic should back up all the way to Cadnam in the summer,” he said.

Maureen Holding issued a warning over moves to encourage more cycling in the Forest, saying Brockenhurst was already “swamped” during the tourist season.