As the UK's charity for all freshwaters, we provide the evidence to protect them

We’re focused on affecting change – and often the biggest impact can be achieved through scientific research that influences policy and legislation. In our policy work we target our activities on the issues where we can make the biggest difference for freshwater wildlife.

The freshwater industry is massive and complicated – and it affects everyone. It’s difficult to make effective change, so we focus our efforts on work to protect freshwater biodiversity and work with many different partners to achieve this. We work with other NGOs, with the water industry and with government agencies to help develop new polices that will lead to more effective protection of freshwater biodiversity.

35 years of fighting for small waterbodies

The evidence we’ve generated over the last 35 years has increasingly shown the importance of small waters, including ponds, small streams and small wetlands.

Making up the majority of the water environment and its most biodiverse part, they are a critically important but undervalued part of the freshwater network. Together, they support more biodiversity than large waterbodies and are easier to create and restore. This represents an opportunity for us to provide habitats for wildlife as we adapt to climate change.

Because we are known for our expertise and practical experience in pond creation and other small waterbodies, including fens and wetlands, policymakers often look to us to provide the evidence needed for their protection.

We’re also known for speaking out for small waters, nationally and internationally.

Read our research papers
Panel of people sitting behind a desk in front of a screen that reads NBS and the Water Convention

- Freshwater Habitats Trust CEO Professor Jeremy Biggs joins a panel of experts to present at a side event to the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP14).Convention

Protecting the whole freshwater landscape

We have a long history of working with rivers. Our river restoration programmes were some of the UK’s first large projects on rivers and have been important in generating evidence about the effectiveness of this approach.

But perhaps the most important outcome of this work was to show that we needed to think about the whole of the water environment. Our work comparing different kinds of freshwater was some of the first in this area. Now, rather than taking a single habitat approach we’ve realised that we need to be thinking about rivers and their floodplains and the rest of the network of freshwater habitats.

Catchment Partnerships
Group of people walking down a hill through a field, with a large pond behind.

- Staff from Freshwater Habitats Trust, River Thame Conservation Trust and the Waddesdon estate, where we're created new habitats with our partners. Photo: Jill Mead.

Building the Freshwater Network

We’re working with policymakers to deliver a new approach to protecting and restoring freshwater biodiversity.

Life in freshwaters is under severe threat. The Freshwater Network is a new way of protecting anrestoring freshwater biodiversity in England and Wales. 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 biodiversity.  

Together we’re creating a national network of wilder, wetter, cleaner, connected freshwaters.

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

Stronger together

We’re committed to working in partnership, so we collaborate with other NGOs, research organisations, businesses and government agencies. That means we can bring together the expertise that’s needed to really make an impact for freshwater.

As a member of Wildlife and Countryside Link, we regularly provide a voice for freshwaters and join forces with other conservation charities to affect policy change. We are often the voice of freshwater in other partnerships, for example Farm Wildlife.

We also work internationally and are members of the European Pond Conservation Network (EPCN)

Wildlife and Countryside Link
Man and woman standing in a pond.

- Freshwater Habitats Trust CEO Professor Jeremy Biggs with Rebecca Pow MP, Minister for Environmental Quality and Resilience at new habitats created in Buckinghamshire.

Man pond dipping with net.
Discover our research library

Read our influential scientific papers and reports, which provide the evidence needed for policies on freshwaters.

Research library
Freshwater Network

Discover our strategy to build a national network of wilder, wetter, cleaner, more connected habitats for freshwater wildlife.

The Freshwater Network
Get the latest news

Read our news stories and blogs to find out more about the work we’re doing to fight for freshwaters.

Find out more

Discover our policy projects

We’re providing the evidence to influence policy and protect freshwater habitats and species.

Woman on inflatable kayak with clipboard on a pond.
PONDERFUL - EU Horizon 2020

Freshwater Habitats Trust is part of an international consortium of freshwater specialists that’s focused on changing policy to protect small waters in Europe and beyond.

PONDERFUL – EU Horizon 2020
Pond with vegetation and trees behind.
Priority Ponds

We’re producing the first map of England’s priority ponds to helps agencies, organisations and individuals to protect ponds and the freshwater wildlife that they support.

Priority ponds
Pond with tree reflected on the water, blue sky behind.
Water Friendly Farming

With our partners, we’re providing evidence on the effectiveness of landscape-wide agri-environment measures.

Water Friendly Farming