New Forest Catchment Partnership Water Forum 2018

27th November 2018

Naomi Ewald reports back on the New Forest Water Forum from last week

On behalf of the Freshwater Habitats Trust and the New Forest National Park Authority, a big thank you to all the attendees, speakers and helpers at November’s New Forest Catchment Partnership Water Forum event.

The New Forest Catchment Partnership came into being in 2012 as one of the pilot catchments for the new Catchment Based Approach (CaBA).  The CaBA principle embeds collaborative working at a river catchment scale to deliver cross-cutting improvements to our water environments. This is especially true in the New Forest, where streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes, both within and outside protected areas, create a landscape of some of the most important freshwaters in the UK. The New Forest catchment Partnership forms an umbrella over the statutory agencies, non-government organisations, research groups, charities and local interest groups, each with multiple projects, which individually build towards a better freshwater environment.

Kerry cattle creating ‘filthy’ good conditions for Small Fleabane ( © Clive Chatters)

This year more than 50 people attended the Water Forum event to hear about topics ranging from; the development of a wetland restoration strategy for the New Forest (Forestry Commission), key issues, opportunities and positive changes which has been achieved towards the targets set by the Water Framework Directive in the New Forest (Environment Agency), working with landowners to reduce diffuse pollution and improve connectivity through the HLF funded OPOF: Living Waters  project (Freshwater Habitats Trust), and a series of fascinating afternoon talks on some of the very rare and special freshwater plants and animals which are uniquely New Forest, including Small Fleabane, Marsh Clubmoss, Medicinal Leech and European Eel.

This fine specimen of Marsh Clubmoss (Lycopodiella inundata) was spotted in the forest by Gemma Stride last month

One of the take home messages of the day was the positive outcomes which can be achieved through collaborative working, and the need to keep promoting and raising understanding of why the New Forest is so special. In fact one of the take home messages ringing in our ears was ‘Filth’! A surprisingly apt word to describe the value of muddy grazed habitats to create the conditions which many of the rarest freshwater need in order to thrive.

Feedback from the Water Forum was overwhelmingly positive and we hope to carry on providing this space for knowledge exchange in future years. Last but by no means least, my favourite comment “so much knowledge and enthusiasm – projected from speakers” and I would add that this enthusiasm was very much reflected by the audience.

You can find out more about the Water Forum and find links to the speaker’s presentations on the New Forest Water Forum page.