View of Hatchet Pond with birds on wooden posts and ponies in the distance

Protecting this special place

Next major phase of work starts at Hatchet Pond

The relocation of the car park at Hatchet Pond, one of the UK’s most important ponds for nature, will begin on Monday 23 January 2023 with the location and nearby Hawkhill car park both closed until late spring. The works are part of an ongoing action plan by Forestry England, Freshwater Habitats Trust and Natural England to restore the renowned beauty spot which has been under major threat from pollution and over-use.

Hatchet Pond is the New Forest’s largest body of fresh water and home to some of the rarest wetland plants and freshwater animals long since lost from many other parts of the UK. As the most wildlife-rich pond remaining in lowland England, it has the highest possible conservation status as both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area for Conservation and maintaining the health of the pond is a legal requirement.

Work undertaken to date

Its restoration began in 2019 after analysis showed that the health of the water, and plants and wildlife that rely on it, were in severe decline. Actions already taken to improve the water quality include the removal of the toilet block which risked flooding into the pond, improved drainage to help prevent run off from the car park flowing into the pond, the removal of non-native carp, and increased signage highlighting actions the public can take to protect the Pond when visiting.

The next key phase of the restoration plan will take place this spring with the relocation of the car park to prevent pollution draining from it into the Pond. The approved planning permission will see the car park moved further away from the edge of the Pond whilst still retaining views over it.

Alternative parking available to visitors

Given the ecological importance of the site, the works will be carried out by specialist contractors, overseen by Forestry England’s ecology team, and take several months to complete. During the closure of the area, alternative parking is available at nearby Hatchet Moor and Stockley car parks. The public are asked during this time not to attempt to park close to the closed car parks or on verges as this can damage the landscape and prevent contractors from accessing the site and further delay the works.

Those wanting to join the cycle network via Hawkhill car park can do so instead via nearby Rans Wood or Stockley car parks.

Leanne Sargeant, Senior Ecologist for Forestry England, said:

Hatchet Pond is truly a special place. It is a haven for nature and home to some of the UK’s rarest species. It is also a highly valued location for people to come and appreciate its beauty. Taking action to protect this incredibly important location will help to ensure its long-term survival and that it is here for many more generations to enjoy. Whilst we complete the work, we ask people not to park on verges or in front of barriers and to choose an alternative location. We look forward to welcoming people back once the works are fully completed and thank them for their patience.”

Hatchet pond in the sunshine with a cyclist and paddleboarder nearby
Hatchet Pond in sunshine with visitors enjoying the view

Dr Naomi Ewald from Freshwater Habitats Trust said:

“Hatchet Pond is a unique and special place. There are no other waterbodies in lowland England which support the same number of plants and animals, and so many rarities which are in decline elsewhere. Taking actions to protect it helps us protect this special area of the Forest and we are pleased to be supporting this project."

Jenny Thomas, New Forest Nature Recovery Senior Advisor, Natural England said:

“Hatchet Pond is of exceptional ecological value, supporting a staggering 133 wetland plant species, more than one third of all the wetland species in the UK, along with numerous invertebrates.  Natural England are delighted that this programme of restoration works is underway, which will help to protect and restore Hatchet Pond for the benefit of all the plants and animals which depend on it, as well as safeguarding it for the enjoyment and wellbeing of New Forest residents and visitors.”

Hatchet Pond lake sunset

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