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Freshwater Habitats Trust

Freshwater Habitats Trust

Freshwater Habitats Trust is fronting two projects as part of the Green and blue horizons from city to Forest scheme.

Damselfly perching on a reed
Damselfly perching on a reed

These two projects come under the ‘Blue Horizons’ name and are as follows;

Wilder for Water – a project to raise awareness of the special qualities of the New Forest waterscape and to champion a best practice ‘clean water standard’ for camping and recreation.

Woodlands and Wetlands – a project facilitating opportunities to expand the outstanding habitats and species of the New Forest’s freshwater landscape.

Wilder for Water

The Wilder for Water project seeks to protect the New Forest’s unique and precious landscape through public engagement. The New Forest is the second smallest national park, but is one of the most visited. Recreational pressures are becoming a threat to the freshwater habitats existing within the Forest (some of the most important in the UK). Through the Wilder for Water project, the Freshwater Habitats Trust is creating opportunities to raise awareness amongst visitors and promote clean water camping and recreation throughout the New Forest. The project’s aims are to:

  • Raise awareness of the unique wetland landscape supporting critically-endangered species
  • Promote responsible access without negatively affecting fresh (and coastal) waters. The New Forest Water Code outlines key visitor messages.
  • Provide free and impartial advice and guidance on water resource and water quality management to recreation and camping providers.

As of October 2022, the Wilder for Water project has been involved with 39 events, reaching around 6000 people. These range from large scale events such as the New Forest Show, to much smaller bespoke days litter picking with New Forest Ambassadors and volunteers.

It is this relationship with the New Forest Ambassadors that has perhaps been one the best displays of partnership working for the project. Working alongside the NFNPA’s volunteer coordinator (another role retained by Horizon’s funding), FHT and NFNPA have been able to run a series of successful litter picking days in key areas of the forest, targeting areas impacted by visitor pressure.

Thea Margetts (Freshwater Habitats Trust) with New Forest Ambassador
Thea Margetts (Freshwater Habitats Trust) with New Forest Ambassador

Together they have picked litter along rivers and campsites, down streams and in car parks, whilst also taking the time to stop and talk to the public and holidaymakers about the New Forest Water Code and the landscapes they’re cleaning up.

New Forest Water Code


To find out more about Wilder for Water project officer Thea, we asked her a few questions about herself, her role and what she wants from the project. Follow the link to read more Thea Margetts Q&A.

Woodlands and Wetlands

The Woodlands and Wetlands project is putting into practice the Freshwater Habitats Trust’s new approach to protecting freshwater biodiversity. The ‘Freshwater Network’ approach aims to create a national network of unpolluted, healthy and interconnected freshwater habitats.

To achieve this in the New Forest, the Woodlands and Wetlands project aims to:

  • Improve both running and standing water networks as well as creating and restoring clean water habitats around the Forest’s edge which build out from and link the New Forest and adjacent coastal chalk streams.
  • Reduce pressure on freshwater habitats through land use change. The creation and management of habitats and natural flood interventions will decrease nutrient and sediment run-off from landholdings loading into close proximity watercourses and further downstream.
  • Increase awareness of the importance of water quality and its significance to the New Forest’s inland and coastal habitats. This will be achieved through landowner engagement.


To find out more about these projects follow the links to the Freshwater Habitats Trust’s website.

Project Overview

New Forest Wilder for Water Project

Woodlands and Wetlands Project


More on Green and blue horizons from city to Forest scheme

A multi-partner scheme which brought an £800,000 investment into the New Forest.

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