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Living Waters

Living Waters

Lead Partner

Freshwater Habitats Trust

What has been achieved?

The freshwaters of Beaulieu River catchment – river, steams and ponds – are outstanding for freshwater wildlife and historical heritage, and it is important to protect and preserve them to enhance the Forest for future generations to enjoy.

Living Waters has improved aquatic biodiversity in the Beaulieu River catchment by addressing diffuse nutrient and sediment pollution, as well as managing high-quality habitats like the Beaulieu Abbey ponds. Practical work completed with the aim of reducing run-off includes:

  • A water harvesting system and sediment trap installed at Leygreen Farm.
  • A water harvesting system, including a pump to reuse the water where it’s needed on site, installed at Chichester Trees and Shrubs nursery.
  • A muck spreader, manure shed and water harvesting system at Countryside Education Trust.
  • Water quality monitoring for nitrates and phosphates was carried out by 35 volunteers between 2016 and 2019 at 60 locations in the catchment.

A highlight of the project has been to help the migration of European eel along the Hartford Stream thanks to the installation of three individually designed passes for eel on existing dams. Within three months of the works being completed, young eels were recorded using the passes to swim upstream.

Freshwater ecologist Dr Naomi Ewald said: ‘It shows that, with high-quality freshwaters like the Hartford Stream, it only takes a small amount of work to make a big difference to the wildlife.’

Events have helped raise awareness of the importance of the Forest’s freshwater habitats and the plants and animals they support. These have included an eel and fish talk at Beaulieu Village Hall, a heritage walk along Beaulieu Abbey Stream and horse pasture management training. A questionnaire was sent to more than 100 residents and stakeholders and 100 visitors were interviewed, to help understand people’s behaviours in relation to water quality issues. The history and biology of the Hartford Steam and its ponds has been researched with some interesting findings.

Jeremy Biggs, Director at Freshwater Habitats Trust, said: ‘The local community has been key to the project’s success, bringing together heritage and conservation to ensure our best places for freshwater wildlife are looked after in the long term.’

  • A Surface Water Management Plan has been completed at Leygreen Farm and a water harvesting system and sediment trap have been installed to reduce farmyard run-off carrying nutrient and sediment into the Beaulieu River
  • Chichester Trees and Shrub nursery. A Surface Water Management Plan has been completed at Chichester Trees and Shrub Nursery and a water harvesting plant installed, along with a replacement pump and water gauge
  •  A Surface Water Management Plan has been completed at the Countryside Education Trust. A muck spreader has been purchased and water harvesting installed. Plans for building a dung shed have also been agreed and awaiting installation
  • Work will be undertaken on Beaulieu Abbey Stream during 2019 to install three eel passes and create and restore ponds
  • Water quality monitoring for nitrates and phosphates has been carried out by 35 volunteers every other month at 60 locations in the catchment and results are collated
  • Two water quality took place in 2016 for the local landowners, volunteers and the local community: an eel and fish talk in Beaulieu Village Hall and a heritage walk along Beaulieu Abbey Stream
  • Two horse pasture management events took place in January 2017 and November 2018 (organised jointly with the Rural Skills project).
  • Over 100 local residents and stakeholders have been sent questionnaires to understand behaviours in relation to water quality issues.
  • 100 New Forest visitors were interviewed in New Forest car parks to understand behaviours in relation to water quality issues
  • Countryside Education Trust are using Clean Water for Wildlife school packs with students to carry out water testing and educational purposes
  • Report produced on the history and biology of the Hartford Stream and the fish ponds. This research will inform a new heritage exhibition and will be communicated to the local history group.

The New Forest Catchment Partnership has made an on-going commitment to support landowners, with landowners committing to maintain certain measures for as long as they are fit for purpose. The Living Waters work will be an example of best practice for small-scale works in relatively un-impacted catchments to restore water quality, and to enhance freshwater biodiversity and our knowledge of local heritage linked to water.

Contact details

Pascale Nicolet – Technical Director, Freshwater Habitats Trust

Tel: 01865 595507  email:

The Freshwater Habitats Trust is leading this work on behalf of the New Forest Catchment Group.


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