Minister returns to see successful New Forest wetland restoration project a decade later - New Forest National Park Authority

Rural Affairs Minister Lord Richard Benyon saw environment projects and met organisations caring for the National Park on a tour of the New Forest last week (Thursday 10 March).

Lord Benyon visited a stream at Fletcher’s Thorns near Brockenhurst which he first saw in 2011 when diggers had carefully recreated its natural meandering course. As part of a programme led by Forestry England to restore wetlands across the New Forest, the meanders were put back into the stream to improve the condition of these internationally-important habitats after the Victorians had straightened the channel to drain the land.

The New Forest is one of the most important areas for freshwater wildlife in Britain. Its freshwater habitats are home to wildlife and plants which have disappeared from other parts of England such as the sundew plant, tadpole shrimp and southern damselfly.

Since 2010 the Verderers of the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship scheme – a partnership between the Verderers, National Park Authority and Forestry England – has restored 20 miles of water courses and improved and protected around 5,000 hectares (more than 7,000 football pitches) of wetland habitats.

The restorations are improving habitats for rare wildlife, protecting streams and mires from further erosion, helping to manage flood risk and increasing resilience to drought.

During the tour Lord Benyon also visited a commoner’s holding near Lyndhurst; met the inclusive cycling charity PedAll; heard from National Park rangers about the New Forest Code; discussed farming grants and subsidies with commoners and farmers in the Verderers Hall in Lyndhurst; and met with partners and landowners along the Waterside who are working to drive private investment into restoring habitats and climate change initiatives.

Lord Benyon Minister for Rural Affairs said: ‘I was very pleased to return to the New Forest and see first-hand the positive impact the wetlands restoration has had on freshwater wildlife, such as the tadpole shrimp. This wetland is just one example of how we can restore our natural world and let our wildlife recover. We are committed to expanding support for wildlife recovery with ambitious proposals in the Nature Recovery Green Paper and stretching Environment Act targets. I am excited what the future holds for this project and similar initiatives across the country.’

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Posted On: 17/03/2022

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