Operator: Hanson UK in partnership with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and Bournemouth and West Hampshire Water Company
Size: 77 hectares
Restored to: Nature Conservation/Contribution to Biodiversity
The restoration site at Ringwood Quarry sits within the complex of former sand and gravel pits known as Blashford Lakes. The 77 hectare site, called Ibsley Water, contains the largest lake in the Blashford complex at 54 hectares, as well as areas of SSSI/SPA/Ramsar.
Through collaboration between Hanson Aggregates and its partners, Bournemouth and West Hampshire Water Company and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, the lake has been restored with sensitively shaped margins and varied underwater gradients, to achieve shallows, islands and shingle spits.
Small groups of native trees and shrubs have also been planted, although this has been limited along the shoreline to avoid excessive shading.
A soil bund which runs alongside the A338 provides a pasture for New Forest ponies, but is also an effective screening feature. The ponies help to vary sward height and control the growth of shoreline willow scrub, enhancing grazing opportunities for wintering wildfowl.
Blashford Lakes is an extremely important site for Bewick’s swan and gadwell. There are also significant numbers of wintering coot, black-tailed godwit, wigeon and goosander at Ibsley Water, as well as lapwing and little ringed plover.
Thanks to three bird hides that have been installed, along with interpretation boards, car park and footpaths, the site is accessible to visitors and has become very popular with birdwatchers.
Ibsley Water, in the former Ringwood Quarry, has been restored to great effect into an area of international importance for wetland birds, which is also much loved by the public.