A wildlife rich, former parkland site, situated close to the village of Highcliffe
Nea Meadows is situated to the East of Christchurch Borough, within the Nea Ward and close to the village of Highcliffe. The area comprises of a variety of natural habitats including mixed meadow, wetland and woodland as well as formal recreation. The site is surrounded by residential development. Designated as a public open space, Nea Meadows is currently managed for nature conservation and recreation. It also incorporates a flood defence measure.
Nea Meadows is part of the former grounds of a large 18th Century estate, existing as formal parkland in the demesne of Nea House, which was demolished in 1940. Landscaping, wooded areas, some standard trees, ornamental species and remnants of the original fish pond survive from this period.
At 5.5 hectares, the site is relatively small in terms of nature conservation. However it is ideal as an educational resource and forms an important stepping stone for migratory species, along the Highcliffe to Christchurch Harbour wildlife corridor. The site is also high in wildflower diversity with over 250 species recorded. The site was formerly declared as a Local Nature Reserve on 24 July 2005.
The main lake at Nea is relatively new (1987-88) and was constructed with the primary purpose of being a flood defence measure. Although its overall species diversity is low, the lake contains a variety of coarse fish.
The rights to fish the lake are owned by Christchurch Angling Club and fishing on the lake is restricted to CAC members. There is also a section of the lake that has been designated as a sensitive wildlife area where angling is not permitted.
The Friends of Nea Meadows and the Nea Meadows Advisory Panel were formed in 1997. The former arranges regular public meetings (attended by a Countryside Warden) to discuss and hopefully resolve any concerns or problems. The latter consists of representatives of users group and the council. Nea Meadows is recognised for good management and has recently received a "best environmental initiative" award in the regional heat of the Britain in Bloom competition.