New Forest Catchment Partnership

New Forest Pond

About New Forest Ponds

The ponds of the New Forest are an important part of the New Forest’s landscape and special qualities.

There are considered to be up to 1,000 permanent and temporary ponds within the Forest and many are of national, or even international, importance for wildlife.

The variation in geology within the Forest results in a wide range of different pond types which in turn supports varied and rich animal and plant communities.

The waterbodies benefit from being in a landscape that is often managed through grazing, and that is often free from pollution originating from more intensive human activities.

As a result of its wildlife importance, the National Park has been identified as one of only a handful of ‘Important Areas for Ponds’ in England by the Environment Agency and Freshwater Habitats Trust and is acknowledged as one of the most important areas for freshwater wildlife in Britain.

In the Forest, ponds have been created both as a by-product of the historical and modern ‘working’ of the Forest and as natural features created by the topography and hydrology of the area.

Ponds can be as small as 1m2 or as large as 2ha in extent and can range from shallow water just a few centimetres deep across the entire pond basin to several meters deep.

The naturally formed ponds tend to be very shallow and small and are often part of a complex of ponds in an area of uneven ground.

Some New Forest ponds are permanent but the majority are temporary, drying out in most summers but reoccurring in the same location every year following the onset of heavier rainfall. These create special habitats that support associated important and rare wetland plants and insects.  

Pond facts:

  • 38 of the UK's pond-associated priority species are found in the Forest, probably more than any other area.
  • 20 of the nation’s rarest plant species (‘Red Data Book species’) can be found in Forest ponds
  • hundreds of the Forests ponds qualify as ‘Priority Ponds’ under the UK Government’s Biodiversity Action Plan
  • one in three ponds in the Forest supports at least one nationally rare insect (‘Red Data Book species’).

There are currently major threats to some of the most important pond species and community types in the New Forest, with species declines, vulnerable isolated populations, changes in habitat quality and a lack of understanding about appropriate management prescriptions and the new habitat creation required to protect them.

The National Park Authority is working in partnership with other organisations and individuals such as landowners and volunteers to help protect and enhance this special New Forest habitat. 

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


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