Nature recovery

We’re working to protect areas of Hampshire’s countryside for future generations to continue to enjoy

As the climate changes, the threat to habitats and wildlife increases. We’re working to make sure that our countryside is resilient, so it can adapt and thrive in the new climate.

What is nature recovery?

Nature recovery is all about how we restore habitats, protect wildlife and combat climate change through collective action. It is a hands-on and community/partnership approach.

Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) are plans for nature recovery across England. See how we are developing the Local Nature Recovery Strategy for Hampshire.

Hampshire County Council is working on some nature recovery projects. These are some examples:

  • actively tree planting as part of our commitment to plant 1 million trees by 2050. Projects include the Hampshire Forest Partnership, which aims to form a network of trees across the county, plus the Reflections and Connections Woodland by the River Hamble, which aims to grow 7,000 new trees for us to enjoy!
  • working with farm clusters and landscape partnerships to re-connect crucial habitats and landscapes
  • delivering pollinator projects to schools and parish councils to raise awareness of the importance of planting flowers and plants that attract pollinators
  • working to alleviate  ash dieback in the county and to identify and protect resistant trees.
Pollinator flowers beside a footpath

Get involved

Nature recovery is a community effort, which means that everyone has a role to play in making it a reality.

Find out how you can contribute to nature recovery 


Rewilding is the process of allowing land to return to its natural or wild state. It usually involves introducing animals that mimic the action of species that existed before farming, such as wild cattle, deer and wild boar, into an area and allowing nature to take its course with minimum intervention from us

Examples of rewilding:

  • small (micro) scale: allowing wildflowers and grasses to grow in a section of your garden with minimum intervention
  • bigger scale: allowing a woodland to regenerate by itself, e.g. introducing back animals that previously would have existed in those spaces to help manage these naturally, and allowing trees and plants to disperse and grow as they would have before. Or allowing previously farmed fields to return to their natural state or to become, for example, butterfly meadows.


Nature Recovery Network (NRN)

Nature recovery prioritises the connection of vast land areas through nature recovery network (NRN) initiatives. These networks play a major role in ensuring that nature recovery is successful by creating wildlife-rich spaces. It is backed by the government’s 25-Year Environment Plan and aims to bring different partners, legislation, and funding together to give land across the country the best chance to recover.

The NRNs aim to increase the size of key habitats in two ways. The first is by forming wildlife corridors, while the second is to encourage the recovery of wider landscapes through nature-based solutions.

An example of an NRN in Hampshire is the Martin Down ‘supercluster’, a group of partners working together to restore declining wildlife and create habitat corridors. Between them, they aim to protect and enhance the iconic and threatened wildlife of the areas across farmland in and around Martin Down National Nature Reserve near Fordingbridge.

Did you know?

Water vole

Water voles

Recent evidence indicates that water voles have undergone a long-term decline in Britain, disappearing from 94% of their former sites. Much of this is down to loss of their habitat, reduction in water quality and pressure from the introduced American Mink.

After successful reintroduction in 2013, water voles can now regularly be seen at Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve. They can be seen from the hides as well as a small pond on the east side of the reserve, so a little time and patience during a visit to this area may well be rewarded.

Nightjar chick


The scientific name for nightjar is Caprimulgus europaea. This means “European goatsucker ” and relates of legends that nightjars go into goat sheds at night and steals the milk from their udders! Quite how this story arose is an absolute mystery.

In the summer, you might hear the churring call of a nightjar across the heathland at Castle Bottom National Nature Reserve as they hunt for insects at twilight. They nest directly on the ground and rely on their superb camouflage to go undetected. They are very susceptible to disturbance, so please keep to the paths if you go searching for them.

Water vole

The Duke of Burgundy butterfly

The Duke of Burgundy is a butterfly of scrubby grassland on limestone chalk in the UK. They’re quite particular in the habitat they like, which can take careful management. The caterpillars feed on primrose leaves between May and July.

Grazing animals can pose harm to this species by eating primrose leaves while caterpillars are feeding.

Green Winged Orchid

Green-winged orchid

Wild orchids rely on high quality grassland habitat and are in decline. In Hampshire we look after 1,380 hectares of grassland to help threatened species like this thrive. Unlike many plant species, the seeds of orchids contain no food supply to start the plant’s growth. They need the seed to be ‘invaded’ by friendly fungi which supply them with food in their early stages. Such fungi will only be found in good, healthy soils.

The wet spring weather in 2023 produced an impressive display of green-winged orchids at Martin Down National Nature Reserve. Over 200 were counted - the highest ever total for the reserve! 

Banded Demoiselle

Banded demoiselle

85% of the world’s chalk streams are in England, and many of these are in Hampshire. Rivers like the Itchen, Test and Meon provide perfect habitats for a diverse range of animals. The banded demoiselle is more often found on side streams and ditches as they prefer a muddy bottom. The name ‘demoiselle’ comes from the French for an unmarried or young woman. It’s quite apt for this large, elegant damselfly. The male banded demoiselle, with their blue-spotted wings, can be seen dancing over slow-flowing rivers and canals.

Find out more about the biodiversity in our rivers.

Green Hair-streak Butterfly

Green hairstreak butterfly

This shy, uncommon butterfly is the only green species we have here in the UK. They thrive in heathland, and we work to protect and maintain 112 hectares of this specialist habitat across Hampshire to help the species that rely on it. They can also be found on our chalk grasslands. With their wings closed in their normal resting posture, these butterflies can be hard to find, resembling a small leaf. But these delicate beauties are always worth finding to admire their beautiful green wings.

Read our blog