Climate Action Fund: New funding for the protection of freshwater in the New Forest

2nd November 2023

Freshwater Habitats Trust is delighted to announce that one of its longstanding projects in the New Forest will benefit from funding to connect young people and communities to nature.  
As part of theNew Forest Catchment Partnership, the Wilder for Water Project is part of the three-year scheme led by the New Forest National Park Authority, with a range of regional partners.  

The Youth for Climate and Nature scheme (YouCAN) has secured a £1.2 million Climate Action Fund grant from The National Lottery Community Fund – the largest community funder in the UK. It has also received a further £264,000 in match funding from partners to connect young people to nature and help communities across the region tackle climate change.  

Aimed at 11 to 25-year-olds, the scheme will strengthen young people’s connection to nature, and deepen their understanding of what drives environmental behaviour change. It will enable them to develop nature-focused campaigns in their local communities. Spanning an area of 300 square miles across the New Forest, Southampton, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, it will cover a mix of urban, rural, coastal and freshwater habitats. 

New Forest autumnal landscape with stream, trees and falling leaves.

- Buck Hill, New Forest

Youth-led and co-created activities will include junior ranger programmes, volunteer opportunities, habitat improvements, climate cafés, composting, food growing/waste reduction, walking and cycling in nature, and internships providing experience in green skills and jobs.   This will be achieved through a multi-partner approach, with experts from different fields providing skills and expertise.  

As a leading science-based charity, Freshwater Habitats Trust will be engaging citizen scientists in species monitoring. This is an integral part of the scheme and will help the charity to gain insight into the distribution of New Forest specialist species at a landscape scale. 

Lead partner New Forest National Park Authority will work alongside the Countryside Education Trust in Beaulieu, Freshwater Habitats Trust, The Parks Foundation in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, Southampton National Park City project, Theatre for Life, and care and support charity Alabaré to deliver the scheme over the next three years.   

Made possible thanks to National Lottery players, the project aims to reach new audiences with a wide, interactive events programme, including residential stays, refugee visits, and workshops with local artists and climate scientists to develop a theatre production and community tour.   

New Forest staff team

- New Forest staff team

A youth advisory board will help to shape the project, while young people will be given further opportunities to have their voices heard through content creation, sound recordings and photography.   

Local Freshwater Habitats Trust staff will be engaging with a variety of audiences in the special qualities of the New Forest lmportant Freshwater Landscape by:  

  • Increasing opportunities to learn the skills that young people can take forward into green careers.  
  • Providing opportunities to access, explore and learn about the unique and wildlife rich freshwater habitats of the New Forest.  
  • Creating meaningful volunteering opportunities that increase our knowledge of New Forest species, with training and support for all those involved.  

Thea Margetts, Project Officer for Freshwater Habitats Trust in the New Forest said: 

“This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the spectacular diversity of wildlife found in freshwater habitats in the New Forest, including species found nowhere else in the UK. By working with young people, we hope to increase their understanding of its importance, how to protect these special places and foster an active involvement in how the Forest is managed and protected in the future.’’    

Wilder for Water has run since 2021 and is funded by the Environment Agency through their Water Environment Improvement Fund. The overall aim of this project is to promote the special qualities of the New Forest waterscape and establish a best practice ‘clean water standard’ for camping and recreation. Freshwater Habitats Trust is delivering the Wilder for Water project through the New Forest Catchment Partnership to raise awareness among visitors and businesses throughout the National Park.The work of Wilder for Water will be supported through the Climate Action Fund.  

 To find out more and get involved contact Thea Margetts, New Forest Project Officer:  

 Follow the New Forest team on their website, Facebook or Instagram 

Find out more about their events programme and volunteering 

King Hat trackway pools

- King Hat trackway pools