The New Forest is one of the most important sites for freshwater biodiversity in the UK.

This amazing landscape includes over 1,000 ponds within the woodlands, heaths, grasslands and floodplain meadows; and many thousand more transient trackway and bog pools. Together, they provide incredible freshwater habitats with exceptional wetland plant and insect communities; unrivalled in terms of their quality and quantity, home to some of our most endangered plants and animals.

Ponds of this number and quality have been lost from almost every other landscape in the UK. But here they continue to thrive, maintained by the gentle disturbance associated with the grazing ponies and cattle; and fed by clean, unpolluted water, a scarce resource outside of traditionally managed landscapes like the New Forest.

In some ways, the New Forest provides an embarrassment of riches, so many important species across so many important ponds, but they warrant greater attention than most. Through the Flagship Pond project we have: undertaken species and water quality surveys; undertaken research on the ecology of some of the UK’s rarest species; encouraged local residents to become species champions and prepared bespoke management plans for some of the most important ponds within the National Park.

Location: Hampshire

Accessibility: Some Flagship Pond sites are accessible to the public, and some are not. If in doubt, consult maps for rights of way, look online for site information, or contact the site manager, and follow any instructions on site. It is up to you to check whether you require permission to visit and access the ponds on a site.

Site owners/managers: Forestry Commission