New Forest - Sustainable Wetland Restoration in the New Forest

LIFE02 NAT/UK/008544

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Bryan BOULT
Tel: +44 1962 846 823
Fax: +44 1962 847055
Email: bryan.boult@hants.gov.uk

Project description:


Southern England’s 'New' Forest’ covers around 290km2 and is considered a biological 'hot spot'. This large Natura 2000 network site includes outstanding examples of thirteen habitats of European importance including the priority habitat types bog woodland and riverine woodland. An earlier LIFE II project (LIFE97 NAT/UK/004242) tackled some of the most obvious conservation problems over 4 000 ha (invasive species, exotic plantations, erosion caused by visitors) and drew up a comprehensive coordinated management plan for the whole area. This management process noted that the SCI's priority woodlands were in particular need of restoration, having suffered from the lack of a holistic approach to the hydrological networks on which they depend.


Building on the experiences gained under the first LIFE project, this project’s aims addressed holistic hydrological issues through the creation of a Water Basin Management Forum, made up of key statutory agencies and stakeholder groups. Once established the Forum would coordinate conservation works within three (Lymington River, Avon Water and Hampshire Avon) of the six water basins of the New Forest. The overall objective was to restore and introduce sustainable management practices on over 600 ha of priority habitat and supporting areas using practical actions including: mire restoration; re-instatement of debris dams to restore natural river channel features; restoration of riverine woodland, bog woodland and wet grassland habitats; and the creation of conditions to allow the natural regeneration of these habitats.

Because the New Forest is situated in one of the more densely populated areas of England, public acceptance was paramount to the success of the project. A communication programme was therefore planned by the project’s partners to raise awareness about the importance of integrated management within local water basins.


The project has been a considerable success, having achieved almost all of the objectives. The main achievements of the project are as follows:

  • A Water Basin Management Forum was established between the project partners, all of which are significant conservation organisations. This forum provides an important structure for conservation within the SAC. Its main output has been a 10-year wetland management plan for the SAC.
  • 604 ha of woodland wetland habitat have been restored to recovering conditions as a result of the project. This area includes riverine woodland (269 ha), bog woodland (20 ha), wet grassland (141 ha) and valley mires (184 ha).
  • River restoration work has been carried out on 10km of the Black Water and Highland Water rivers. The work reconnected old meanders, raised bed levels and installed debris dams. Project works represent one of the largest river restoration projects in the UK.
  • The project has carried out a range of useful surveys within the SAC. Baseline surveys were undertaken at the beginning of the project. A subsequent survey by Southampton University has monitored physical features of the Black water and Highland Water Rivers. The project has also surveyed macro-invertebrates, fisheries and wading birds.
  • A thorough dissemination programme was carried out that produced high quality materials, including a dedicated project website and a DVD.
  • Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Conservation Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Forests
Habitats - Freshwater


aquatic ecosystem‚  biotope network‚  ecological assessment‚  environmental education‚  landscape conservation policy‚  renaturation‚  wetlands ecosystem‚  forest ecosystem‚  freshwater ecosystem‚  management plan‚  river management

Target EU Legislation

  • Water
  • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 79/409 - Conservation of wild birds (02.04.1979)
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...
  • Decision 93/626 - Conclusion of the Convention on Biological Diversity (25.10.1993)
  • COM(95) 189 - "Communication on the judicious use and conservation of wetlands" (12.12.1995)
  • COM(98)42 -"Communication on a European Community Biodiversity Strategy" (05.02.1998)
  • COM(2001)162 -"Biodiversity Action Plan for the conservation of natural resources (vol. I & II)" ...

Target Habitat types

  • 7140 - Transition mires and quaking bogs
  • 7150 - Depressions on peat substrates of the Rhynchosporion
  • 7230 - Alkaline fens
  • 91D0 - Bog woodland
  • 91E0 - "Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae)"
  • 6410 - "Molinia meadows on calcareous, peaty or clayey-silt-laden soils (Molinion caeruleae)"
  • 4010 - Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix
  • 4030 - European dry heaths

Natura 2000 sites

SCI UK0012557 The New Forest



Coordinator Hampshire County Council
Type of organisation Local authority
Description Hampshire County Council is a public sector municipality with a mandate that includes countryside conservation. It owns and manages about 4 000 ha of country parks and nature reserves, around half of which are designated by the UK government as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, including some National Nature Reserves.
Partners English Nature Environment Agency Forestry Commission National Trust RSPB


Project reference LIFE02 NAT/UK/008544
Duration 01-JUL-2002 to 31-DEC -2006
Total budget 4,584,262.00 €
EU contribution 1,833,705.00 €
Project location South East (UK)(United Kingdom)


Read more:

Brochure Title: Sustainable wetland restoration in the New Forest Author: Hampshire County Council Year: 2003 Editor: Hampshire County Council
Leaflet "Guide to Wading Birds in the New Forest"
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan After-LIFE Conservation Plan (85 MB)
Publication: Layman report Layman report


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version