Championing clean water in the New Forest
Wilder for Water promotes the special qualities of the New Forest waterscape and a best practice ‘clean water standard’ for camping and recreation. Freshwater Habitats Trust is delivering the Wilder for Water project through the New Forest Catchment Partnership to raise awareness among visitors and businesses throughout the National Park.
The New Forest is one of the most visited National Parks in England. With more than 6,000 camping pitch spaces per day, it is certainly a popular destination, offering an opportunity not only for people to reconnect with family and friends but also to have a ‘close up’ experience with the landscape they choose to ‘pitch up’ in.
Each year thousands of holiday makers choose to camp in the New Forest, giving the local economy a boost and providing some well-deserved down time from the busy lives people lead. However, are visitors aware of the special nature of the New Forest’s wetlands, or possibly inadvertently damaging the very thing that attracted them here in the first place?
Why we need Wilder for Water
The New Forest’s freshwater habitats are under increasing pressure from visitors. Through discussions with landowners, partner organisations and local businesses, coupled with regular catchment walkovers (a type of freshwater survey), a pattern is now emerging:
- Landowners who came to us for advice on land management and water pollution issues have begun to consider that their campsite business could be part of a package of works to reduce, reuse and recycle water. This would prevent runoff and reduce pressure on the local water environment.
- Increasing numbers of visitors are unsure about why some types of water-based recreational activities are bad news for fresh and coastal waters. As a result, they may be causing unintended disturbance to wildlife, erosion and compaction, and nutrient enrichment, impacting negatively on sensitive habitats.
- Some motorhome owners may not know about the safe disposal of wastewater. For example, this includes tipping grey or black water (plus detergents and chemicals) into ditches or directly onto the ground. In coastal saltmarshes this creates nutrient enrichment, which is intolerable to fresh and coastal water plants and wildlife, causing irreparable damage.
- Local businesses are keen to implement wastewater management solutions as part of a package of work to reduce, reuse and recycle, saving water, preventing run off and overall reducing pressure on the water environment.