FORESTRY England has revealed its plans for the future of Cannop Ponds.

There will be a different approach to each of the two ponds – Upper and Lower Cannop – with more detailed design work to be undertaken followed by public consultation.

Forestry England says Lower Cannop “will remain a large body of water in the heart of the Forest of Dean” with engineering works to build a new, larger spillway and make the existing dam watertight.

At Upper Cannop, Forestry England plans to take what it calls  “a more natural approach” with a mixture of open water, marsh and reedbeds “to create a haven for wildlife to flourish and attract more native wildlife.”

A Forestry England spokeswoman said: “Cannop Ponds will continue to be a special haven where wildlife is given space to thrive, and people are welcomed to connect with nature. 

“A different approach is being taken at Upper and Lower Cannop, to reflect the opportunities that each Pond presents. 

“The two will work together to bring benefits to the wider forest environment.”

Forestry England has said changes are necessary to the 200-year-old – which were built to serve Parkend Ironworks – because there is a possibility the dams could be breached, causing serious flooding.

A consultation meeting at the Speech House last year attracted more than 700 people with 60 per cent saying they wanted the ponds retained.

The work on the lower pond – will meet modern engineering standards – will make the structure more resilient to extreme rainfall and better at holding back storm water Forestry England says the work will  be done “as sympathetically as possible.”

A different approach is being taken with the upper pond to minimise the extensive engineering works that would be required.

Forestry England says arshes and shallow water will help boost numbers of invertebrate and plant species, which will, in turn, support more wintering birds. 

There will be greater foraging opportunities for mammals including bats and otters, while amphibians and dragonflies will have more areas to breed.

Fishing will also continue at the lower pond and accessibility will be improved which could include upgrading the walking trails, providing areas for pond-dipping and paddling, or better viewing platforms.

The spokeswoman said: “Forestry England is committed to ensuring Cannop Ponds remains a place for everyone, now and in the future, and will be asking the local community what they would like to see improved at the site.”

Josh Josh Howe, Director of Engineering for Forestry England added: “We have spent the last 18 months gathering a huge amount of technical information and listening to the public’s views about what should be done to protect Cannop Ponds.

“Whether you want a place to walk the dog, spend time with family, or space for your physical and mental wellbeing, you will have the chance to have your say on what could be offered.

“We want the dams to be safe and are legally obliged to address the problems with the ageing dam structures to ensure future safety. But the more we looked at what we would have to do to fix the issues, the more we could see opportunities to improve the whole site for the community and for wildlife, whilst also protecting those downstream.

“We believe that this outline plan will future-proof Cannop Ponds for generations to come. And it will also help the Forest of Dean be resilient to the changing climate, whilst continuing to support our precious wildlife during the biodiversity crisis.”

To see more images of what could happen at the ponds, visit