Making places for freshwater wildlife to thrive

Freshwater Habitats Trust has been creating, restoring and protecting high quality freshwater habitats for more than 35 years. We are known internationally for our expertise in creating and managing ponds for wildlife. As an organisation that is grounded in science, we constantly monitor and update our methods to ensure our habitat creation and restoration work is based on the latest evidence.

We’re losing freshwater biodiversity at an alarming rate. Our focus is on protecting and creating clean, unpolluted habitats to reverse the decline.

Why small waters matter

At Freshwater Habitats Trust we focus on the whole freshwater environment – with a special focus on those small waterbodies that make a big difference for freshwater biodiversity.

Research shows that – at landscape scale – ponds support more biodiversity than rivers and lakes. Despite this, they remain largely overlooked and widely excluded from policies that might protect them. These small and undervalued waterbodies are especially important for rare and threatened freshwater species. Some species listed in Annex I and Annex II of the Habitats Directive depend on networks of high quality small waterbodies for their survival.

Our policy is to share our knowledge so we have made many of our pond creation resources freely available through the Pond Creation Toolkit.

Pond Creation Toolkit
Man standing in a pond, inspecting contents of a net.

Bringing clean water back to the landscape

Clean water is vital for freshwater biodiversity but is now a very scarce resource. Restoring it to the landscape is a critical step for freshwater protection.

We’re establishing clean water habitats for wildlife across the country. Through the Newt Conservation Partnership, we’re creating clean water ponds through the NatureSpace District Licensing Scheme for Great Crested Newt to provide high quality habitats for this European protected species and other wildlife. 

Working with partners and volunteers, we also monitor water quality at catchment scale. This means we can identify pollution hotspots and pinpoint the cleanest habitats so that we can protect them.

Our survey methods
Boy holding two test tubes of liquid each of a different colour.

Building the Freshwater Network

The Freshwater Network is a new approach to habitat creation and restoration. It’s a practical delivery approach to freshwater conservation and recovery. Developed by Freshwater Habitats Trust and partners, it unites important new ideas from research with traditional conservation concepts to build a better future for freshwater species.

Over the coming years, we’ll be creating a national network of wilder, wetter, cleaner, more connected habitats to reverse the decline in freshwater biodiversity. This ambitious strategy will see us working with our partners to create and restore habitats across the country’s Important Freshwater Landscapes. We’ll be building out from these biodiversity hotspots by restoring historic floodplains and wetlands.

The Freshwater Network
Aerial view of a landscape, including a meandering river and newly dug ponds.

Discover our habitat creation and restoration work

Woman scything in a field
The Oxfordshire fens project

A collaboration with local experts, site managers and landowners to restore the alkaline fens of Oxfordshire and protect their precious wildlife for the future.

The Oxfordshire Fens Project
Pond with tree reflected on the water, blue sky behind.
Water Friendly Farming

This 12-year demonstration site project is teaching us how pond creation can boost biodiversity on farmland.

Water Friendly Farming
Priority ponds

We’re working with our partners to map England’s best ponds, paving the way for their future protection.

Priority ponds
New Forest wetland on a wintery day with blue sky
Blue Horizons

We’re creating and enhancing freshwater habitats in the New Forest, one of Europe’s most significant landscapes for freshwater biodiversity.

Blue Horizons
Great Crested Newt on a log.
Newt Conservation Partnership

A community benefit society with the sole purpose of creating and managing high quality habitat for Great Crested Newt.

Newt Conservation Partnership