Defra officials visit wetland restoration

Environment Minister Rory Stewart and Permanent Secretary Clare Moriarty have visited the New Forest to see the considerable benefits wetland restoration is bringing to the area.

They visited the stream at Fletchers Thorns, which was straightened in Victorian times to quickly drain this part of the Forest. This straightening created unseen problems for wildlife habitats through increased erosion of the river banks.

Through Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) funding the original meanders were identified and reinstated with the straightened section being in filled and returned back to Forest. The stream is now back to its original course and interacting naturally with its floodplain, benefiting this internationally-important wetland habitat.

This site is part of a wider scheme of river restoration in the New Forest that has seen nine miles of drainage channels, first artificially straightened by the Victorians, restored to more natural stream systems. This work also slows water flow, benefiting precious habitats and helping to reduce downriver flood risk.

The New Forest Higher Level Stewardship Scheme (HLS) is a 10-year, multi-million pound agreement with Natural England and is managed by a partnership comprising the Verderers, the Forestry Commission and the New Forest National Park Authority.

Watch the video below to find out more about the restoration work at Fletchers Thorns.