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Preparatory works for a wetland restoration project at Latchmore in the New Forest begin this month which will, later this summer, see the stream moved back to its natural meandering course.
Natural England’s assessment of the water course states that it has been heavily modified, will not fully recover without intervention, and that the successful restoration of this water course can readily be achieved.
Andy McDonald, Natural England’s Regional Manager for East London and South East said;
“I am delighted to hear that this internationally important mire and stream restoration at Latchmore is going forward. This is key to achieving the government’s targets for biodiversity and an important achievement for the partnership in the New Forest”.
The next phase of the restoration will see the marking up and felling of some scrub and trees. The work will provide access for continued bomb disposal work that was started last year, ensuring that any remaining on site are located and safely removed from the former bombing range. Scrub clearance will also improve grassland habitat and will be completed before the bird nesting season begins.
The widely consulted plans have generated support from commoners and forest groups such as the New Forest Association, Commoners Defence Association and Hampshire Wildlife Trust.
Kevin Penfold, Deputy Surveyor for the New Forest said;
"Local residents feel passionately about Latchmore and we received a mixed response, some very accepting of the plans and some with concerns, at the consultation events that we held on the subject. Having taken these views into account, and having reviewed the plans, the partnership remains committed to implementing these plans over the coming months."
The New Forest Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme was established in March 2010 to restore internationally important habitats and support commoning practices (grazing of the forest by livestock) as a result of a successful bid to Natural England and Defra by a partnership of the Verderers, the Forestry Commission and the New Forest National Park Authority.
The HLS partnership believes that the plans are well balanced, repairing artificially modified wetland habitat and improving grazing whilst safeguarding landscape and archaeological features.
There will be some disruption whilst work is carried out but the plans aim to minimise this in timing the works to avoid sensitive times of the year and when ground conditions are at their best. Last summer, similar works at Ditchend were very successfully completed, receiving positive feedback from the Parish Council. The partnership is confident that the appointed contractors, who have over 30 years of habitat restoration experience, will do equally as good a job at Latchmore.
NOTES TO EDITOR
- The New Forest HLS agreement covers 20,000 hectares of The New Forest in Hampshire, an area that supports an internationally important mosaic of habitats that are managed for wildlife, underpinned by a unique commoning system. The Verderers of The New Forest are the signatory with the Forestry Commission, The National Park Authority and The Commoners Defence Association creating a delivery partnership that is working with Natural England.
- The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. Further information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/england
Paula Quigley or Hannah Keddie at Grayling PR, tel 02380 382970 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Libby Burke at the Forestry Commission on 02380 286832.