Working Together for Water and Wildlife in the New Forest
20th October 2017
The event celebrated the outstanding diversity of freshwater plants and animals of the New Forest and showcased the great work the New Forest Catchment Partnership are doing to protect it. It focused on the many volunteer and citizen science projects happening across the Forest, sharing updates and results.
The event was the first of its kind in the New Forest to focus solely on the freshwater environment. The existing passion and interest was only too clear as the venue filled with eager faces. The day was a huge success with some 85 attendees – including volunteers, professionals, enthusiasts and expert naturalists. Speakers from the New Forest National Park Authority, Freshwater Habitats Trust, Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency and Forestry Commission covered a range of topics, including:
• Volunteer monitoring networks for rare wetland plants & animals • Flagship Pond Sites: best of the best • The importance of clean water for wildlife • Catchment management for freshwater wildlife • Controlling invasive non-native plants • Monitoring river restoration • Looking to the future
The projects presented on the day all demonstrated how much could be achieved through the power of volunteers and citizen science. The sheer scale of the monitoring networks in place and practical action on the ground would not have been possible without the time and energy of volunteers and the support of the local community.
A recurring theme was how exceptional the New Forest freshwater environment is compared to other parts of lowland England. Across the country, freshwater wildlife is declining, particularly rare plants and animals and the availability of clean, unpolluted, water. In contrast, the New Forest is a clean water gem, and remains a stronghold for many wetland plants and animals which have now largely disappeared from much the English countryside – like Pillwort, Southern Damselfly, Fairy Shrimp, Mud Snail, Medicinal Leach to name but a few! However, the pressures on the New Forest are increasing and it faces many challenges, so complacency is not an option.
Only through partnerships and collaborative working will we be able to tackle the challenges ahead. The success of the event shows how much is already happening, with many organisations and communities across the New Forest coming together, and putting freshwater at the top of the agenda. The New Forest Catchment Partnership will continue to take this forward by harnessing the power of grass root volunteers, and by practical action on the ground. Together, we can champion and protect the freshwater environment of the New Forest.
For more information and for a summary of each talk please see the event summary below. To find out more about the New Forest Catchment Partnership please visit the New Forest National Park Authority website.