Help us protect freshwater in the Forest

The New Forest is world famous for its wetland wildlife. From source to sea, the ponds and bogs, rivers and streams, mudflats and saltmarshes are all extremely special for plants and animals alike. The grazing livestock and a landscape which boasts areas of clean unpolluted wetland habitats, make the New Forest one of the best and most Important Freshwater Landscapes and coastal areas in the UK.

Wetland wildlife depends on clean unpolluted water and space to breed and feed undisturbed. As co-hosts of the New Forest Catchment Partnership, we are asking visitors to the New Forest to help us protect the Forest’s internationally-significant freshwater habitats and the wonderful wildlife they support.

Enjoy your visit to the New Forest – and help us make a difference for this Important Freshwater Landscape.

Leave no trace

To help us protect the New Forest’s freshwater wildlife, we ask visitors to leave no trace.

Use suitable facilities for all your waste needs to prevent nutrient pollution entering waterbodies. New Forest District Council provides more than 20 public conveniences across the Forest.  The website Pee Place locations is a useful website for nearby toilet facilities. Plan stops into your visit to try and prevent wild wees.

New Forest District Council also provides 1,300 bins for disposing of different types of litter including dog waste, in case you don’t want to take your rubbish home.  This map will help you locate Public waste bins. Click on ‘map features’ to navigate to the ‘waste and recycling’ section.  You can also use the map to find recycling centres dotted around the Forest.

Read our blog Watch our video

- Harrow Wood, New Forest

Check Clean Dry

The New Forest is one of the most visited National Parks in England, the second smallest National Park and the National Park with the highest proportion of designated land for nature conservation in England. These facts highlight that the New Forest environment can under pressure at times.

As it’s one of the most visited National Parks in England, people can sometimes unintentionally have a negative impact on the plants and wildlife that have been here for thousands of years. As an ancient landscape with a deep natural history, it’s important to ensure our time in the Forest and along the coast goes without harm and keeps nature in balance. One way visitors can throw off the balance, without meaning to do so, is by spreading invasive non-native species.

That’s why we ask visitors to Check, clean and dry equipment – such as footwear,  fishing tackle, kayaks and SUPs – to prevent the spread of invasive species, pest and diseases. Our freshwater and coastal environments are particularly susceptible to invasive non-native species – due to the flowing nature of water it doesn’t take long for seeds and animals to disperse and colonise.

For more information on Check, Clean, Dry, look at Stop the Spread.

Read our blog Watch our video
A restored stream in the New Forest.

Right Activity Right Place

Natural processes and human activities have modified and reshaped this landscape for thousands of years. Despite this, the New Forest includes large areas of pristine freshwater habitats, supported by clean water and managed grazing.

Whether you’re walking, cycling or enjoying water sports, you can get the most out of your time in the New Forest, while minimising any negative impacts on habitats and wildlife.

New Forest organisations are working together to help visitors know where sensitive wildlife is breeding and nesting.  To prevent disturbance to wetland wildlife please follow instructions on signs and posters and plan ahead. Check for any car park closures so you know where to park.

Access the Forest in a responsible way.  keep your dog under effective control and follow the Dog Walking Code.  Stick to the tracks and use designated walking routes and cycling routes

Paddle sports and swimming are not allowed everywhere.  Check these websites to find Bathing water locations and how to enjoy watersports where there is wildlife.

Read our blog Watch our video

Stick to the Pitch

The New Forest is a popular camping destination and you can plan a great camping trip at one of the New Forest’s campsites. To protect the New Forest’s rare habitats, wild camping and overnight parking are not permitted in other parts of the Forest.

From Sundews to Southern Damselflies, the New Forest wetland landscape is bursting with rare, freshwater plants and animals. In fact, water is everywhere in the Forest. With more than 1,000 ponds and pools, this clean freshwater network provides habitats which have been lost from much of lowland England.

If you are camping in the Forest, you can take steps to minimise your impact on these habitats and the species they support. This includes staying in designated campsites and disposing of all waste water responsibly, including unused tap water, water used for washing and foul waste.

Read our blog Watch our video
Fungi growing next to a rock by a waterbody.
Plant with red and yellow spokes in shallow water, sparkling in the sunlight.

Follow the New Forest Water Code

Enjoy a wildlife-friendly visit to the New Forest.

Download leaflet