Why swimming and watersports are prohibited in the New Forest

Swimming and watersports (including boating and paddleboarding) in ponds and other natural water sources is not allowed on the Crown lands of the New Forest in order to protect the wildlife habitat. Waterways are a vital resource for wildlife and New Forest grazing animals. Our freshwater bodies are home to some of the rarest wetland plants and freshwater animals, long since lost from many other parts of the UK.

Learn more about the wildlife at our ponds: https://www.forestryengland.uk/wildlife-hatchet-pond

Protecting this special place

As a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area for Conservation (SAC), maintaining the health of the waterways is a legal requirement. With the major threat of pollution and over-use, eroding banks and disturbance all affects the health of the water, with the plants and wildlife that rely on it, suffering. It’s important that we all respect the Forest whilst enjoying this special place safely.

Be aware of the dangers

As temperatures rise you may tempted to cool off in the rivers and ponds, but we discourage you from swimming in natural water sources that have potential dangers and harmful bacteria.

For example:

  • Submerged debris including sharp objects
  • Faeces from livestock
  • Leeches and algae

Learn more about the health risks of open water swimming: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/swim-healthy-leaflet/swim-healthy