New Forest Catchment Partnership

One of the 32 water bodies with the national park

About New Forest rivers and streams

The New Forest catchment covers over 300 square kilometres (approx 116 square miles). As well as taking in much of the New Forest National Park area it also includes more urban centres on the edge of the Park and extends into the estuaries and coastal waters of the Solent.  

In total there are 32 water bodies, including rivers, streams, brooks and lakes. These range from larger rivers such as the Lymington and Beaulieu to shorter streams and brooks such as the Sowley Stream, Jacobs Gutter, Beckton Bunny, Dark Water, Walkford Brook.

The River Avon and its tributaries are considered as a separate catchment so the water bodies that drain into it are not covered by the New Forest Catchment Project. It is covered by the Hampshire Avon Catchment Partnership.

The New Forest catchment is unusual in lowland England in having large areas of uncultivated land (the open forest). Due to the unique nature of the New Forest it is one of the best places to see rich and near-natural freshwater habitats in the UK, a fact widely recognised by the high level of protection given to the landscape.

Despite this, of the 30 ‘river water bodies’ and two lakes in the catchment only 40% are currently considered to be at ‘Good’ ecological status (on the scale of Bad, Poor, Moderate, Good and High). Most transitional and coastal waters achieve only Moderate status, in spite of the fact that all are covered by national and international designations to protect them.

The many hundreds of smaller water bodies and streams that dot the Forest are not covered by the Water Framework Directive at all, but include some of the least-damaged freshwater systems in the Europe – reflected in the exceptional importance for wildlife of these habitats.

  1. River catchment project
  2. About New Forest rivers and streams (you are here)
  3. Helping our rivers and streams
  4. About New Forest Ponds
  5. Water Quality – phosphates
  6. Case study: Lymington
  7. Case study: triops
  8. Contact us


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