Updated: Feb 10, 2020
Russ and Marcus write:
Today we attended the 2020 New Forest Water Forum in Brockenhurst, which provided an opportunity for the management and conservation bodies in the New Forest to come together and discuss the wetter parts of the forest - the ponds, streams, bogs, valley mires and ephemeral pools. These are often overlooked compared to the forests and heaths, but are important in both a national and international context for their clean water and exceptional biodiversity, with many rare and endangered species.
The theme for the day was 'Wilder for Water' and the first session was largely focussed on the New Forest in a national context, with presentations by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Freshwater Habitats Trust, New Forest National Park Authority and Environment Agency.
The afternoon session was about some of the special aquatic species found in the New Forest, including the rare Fairy Shrimp and Tadpole Shrimp (now on our target list!), and various species of amphibian. However, most attendees (including us) were probably most surprised by the Environment Agency presentation describing the Lymington to Lepe coastline as a hotspot for Stingray - see the monster specimen from Sowley shore pictured below!
Russ concluded the proceedings with an overview of our ongoing work on New Forest Curlews (pic below), and some of the existing and potential mitigation measures required to improve their future conservation. Overall, it was an interesting and well-attended day, with plenty of volunteering opportunities, but we noted the absence of anyone under 18 and have therefore suggested that future editions seek to engage a younger audience if possible.