WORK is about to start on the latest phase of a multi-agency project that aims to safeguard one of the best-known beauty spots in the New Forest.

A gravel car park at Hatchet Pond, near Beaulieu, will be closed and replaced by a new facility further away from the water's edge.

The scheme is part of a project to reduce the impact of visitors on the seven-hectare pond, which supports a wide range of species.

Experts have warned that the popularity of the picturesque site is resulting in pollution and other issues.

READ MORE: Car park set to be moved to protect 'too popular' beauty spot

Daily Echo: The car park at Hatchet Pond is to be moved away from the edge of Hatchet PondThe car park at Hatchet Pond is to be moved away from the edge of Hatchet Pond (Image: Newsquest.)

A Forestry England (FE) spokesperson said: "Hatchet Pond is the New Forest’s largest body of fresh water and home to some of the rarest wetland plants and freshwater animals.

"As the most wildlife-rich pond remaining in lowland England, it has the highest possible conservation status.

"Its restoration began in 2019 after analysis showed the health of the water, and the plants and wildlife which rely on it, were in severe decline."

Measures already taken include improvements to the drainage, the removal of the toilet block, and increased signage urging visitors to look after the pond.

Now the car park will be moved to prevent erosion resulting in silt entering the water.

Daily Echo: Hatchet Pond in the New Forest is home to a wide variety of wildlifeHatchet Pond in the New Forest is home to a wide variety of wildlife (Image: Sarah Webber)

The FE spokesperson said: "Given the ecological importance of the site the works will be carried out by specialist contractors, overseen by Forestry England’s ecology team, and will take several months.

"Alternative parking is available at the nearby Hatchet Moor and Stockley car parks."

Senior FE ecologist Leanne Sargeant added: "Hatchet Pond is truly a special place. It is a haven for nature and home to some of the UK’s rarest species.

"Taking action to protect this incredibly important location will help ensure its long-term survival."

READ MORE: Mixed reaction for plans to move car park away from popular beauty spot

Dr Naomi Ewald, of the Freshwater Habitats Trust, said: "Hatchet Pond is a unique place. There are no other waterbodies in lowland England that support the same number of plants and animals.

"Taking action to protect it helps us protect this special area of the Forest and we are pleased to be supporting this project."

Daily Echo: Hatchet Pond is the largest area of freshwater in the New ForestHatchet Pond is the largest area of freshwater in the New Forest (Image: Newsquest.)

Jenny Thomas, of Natural England, said the site supported 133 wetland plant species and was of "exceptional" ecological value.

She added: "This programme of restoration will help protect and restore Hatchet Pond for the benefit of all the plants and animals which depend on it."

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