Through Blue Horizons, Freshwater Habitats Trust is improving the running and standing water network in the New Forest - an internationally significant landscape for freshwater biodiversity.

New Forest wetland on a wintery day with blue sky

Building the Freshwater Network in the New Forest

Blue Horizons puts into practice Freshwater Habitats Trust’s new approach to the protection of freshwater biodiversity – the Freshwater Network. This involves creating a national network of healthy, unpolluted and interconnected freshwater habitats, made up of Important Freshwater Landscapes, Important Freshwater Areas, Historic Floodplains, and Wetland Opportunity Areas. The New Forest is an Important Freshwater Landscape and Blue Horizons is helping us to build the Freshwater Network here.

The approach focuses on the small freshwater and wetland habitats that make up most of the water environment. These habitats  are critical for maintaining landscapes rich in freshwater biodiversity and are the easier to manage, create and restore successfully than larger waterbodies. The Freshwater Network prioritises protecting the best habitats, such as the New Forest, with its internationally important freshwater wildlife.

Expanding out from the core

The Blue Horizons project seeks to address improvements to both the running and standing water network.

This involves reducing diffuse pollution and sedimentation, increasing water storage capacity and the restoration and creation of clean water habitats around the edge of the Forest.

These new habitats build out from – and link – the highly biodiverse New Forest Special Area of Conservation (SAC) / Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and adjacent coastal Special Protected Areas and SACs, and SSSI chalk streams.

A restored stream in the New Forest.

- A restored stream in the New Forest.

Reducing pressures on the New Forest's freshwaters

Through Blue Horizons, we’re focusing on land use change, habitat creation and management, and natural flood management interventions to reduce nutrient and sediment run off from landholdings. This is decreasing loading into close proximity watercourses and further downstream.

The project will benefit freshwater wildlife by contributing to the expansion of specialist priority clean water dependent species, now lost from almost every other landscape across lowland England.

Two horses by a waterbody, one drinking.

Increasing awareness among landowners

We are engaging with landowners to increase awareness of the importance of water quality to the New Forest’s inland and coastal habitats.

The Blue Horizons project is helping to increase understanding of land use impacts on water quality.

It is also raising awareness of how changes to land management can increase the natural capital value and ecosystem services the landholding has to offer including benefits to the wider landscape particularly downstream.

- Dr Naomi Ewald of Freshwater Habitats Trust with a group of landowners.

Freshwater Habitats Trust in the New Forest

Two horses by a waterbody, one drinking.
Wilder for Water

We’re promoting the special qualities of the New Forest waterscape and a best practice ‘clean water standard’ for camping and recreation.

Wilder for Water
New Forest wetland on a wintery day with blue sky
New Forest Catchment Partnership

We’re working in partnership to protect freshwater habitats in the New Forest catchment.

New Forest Catchment Partnership
The New Forest.
The Freshwater Network

The New Forest is part of an Important Freshwater Landscape in a national network of wilder, wetter, cleaner, connected habitats.

Important Freshwater Landscapes