Portsmouth Water set to “rewild” 80 hectares as part of Havant Thicket Reservoir project

Some of the agricultural land set to be re-wilded

Some of the agricultural land set to be re-wilded

Portsmouth Water will “re-wild” 80-hectares of local farmland – the equivalent of around 112 football pitches – in partnership with an environmental trust, as part of its Havant Thicket Reservoir project.

The water company has entered into an agreement with the Pig Shed Trust, a charitable trust with an excellent track record of environmental improvements, to turn agricultural areas of South Holt Farm into a sanctuary for wildlife. The land is around two kilometres north east of the reservoir site.

The Pig Shed Trust will work with Portsmouth Water over the next 80 years to “re-wild” the farm by developing woodland, wood pasture and grassland habitats. The trust works on the principle of using natural processes where possible, which will result in a resilient range of habitats with a lower carbon footprint when compared with other methods of tree planting.

These works are part of Portsmouth Water’s much larger commitment to plant and improve over 200 hectares of woodland and wood pasture locally, including planting more than 6,000 trees on the edge of the reservoir site, restoring streams and carrying out extensive improvements to established woodland in nearby Southleigh Forest and Havant Thicket.

Harvey Jones, Chair and Trustee of the Pig Shed Trust, said:

“The Pig Shed Trust will be managing South Holt as a sanctuary for wildlife. We use natural processes where possible and human intervention where necessary with the aim of providing wild creatures with somewhere to live and something to eat. Our primary focus is on invertebrates, particularly butterflies. In our experience, if the insects are flourishing, then the plants and other animals are also doing well. Our partnership with Portsmouth Water will
provide a secure, long-term future for our project at South Holt. This ensures that the landscape will have the necessary time to develop into the most diverse habitat possible.”

Liz Brown, Environmental Manager for Havant Thicket Reservoir, said:

“It’s a real privilege to work on a project that takes its commitment to restoring and enhancing the local environment so seriously. Whilst unfortunately there is unavoidable loss of woodland from site, we have designed a package of bespoke habitat enhancements that goes above and beyond the requirements of our planning application to ensure we deliver a significant environmental net gain for the area.

“This 80-hectare rewilding project will be running for 80 years and will involve restoring an area of agricultural land to woodland, wood pasture and grassland. We are delighted to be partnering with the Pig Shed Trust, which has an excellent track record of creating tangible, measurable improvements in the natural environment.

“Rather than planting trees, we are taking an innovative approach and will be letting the woodland grow naturally. This is likely to ensure a much better success rate, with a far higher percentage of trees surviving and thriving. We’ll be monitoring the site very closely as the rewilding project progresses and look forward to sharing updates.”

Havant Thicket Reservoir is first and foremost an environmentally-led project that will protect two world-renowned chalk rivers in Hampshire, by providing a new, sustainable source of water.

For more information about the Havant Thicket Reservoir project, please visit https://havantthicket-reservoir.uk.engagementhq.com/

Contact Portsmouth Water with any questions or concerns by calling 023 9249 9888 or emailing [email protected]