A project has been launched to reverse the long-term decline of ponds and bring back clean, unpolluted, wildlife-rich water to the landscape. Through Pond Conservation’s Million Ponds Project, 5,000 ponds will be created in the next four years, aimed at benefiting the 80-plus species listed in the UK Bio-diversity Action Plan that live in or use them.
Pond Conservation’s Dr Jeremy Biggs explains: ‘Two-thirds of all freshwater species live in ponds, but, until recently, no one has taken ponds seriously. However, they’re the easiest way of getting clean water back into the landscape. It can take 20 years and millions of pounds to clean up one river, but you can dig a pristine pond in a weekend, and it will last for 100 years.’
The 10 rarest pond species are tadpole shrimp, spangled water beetle, starfruit, brown galingale, fairy shrimp, lesser silver water beetle, tassel stonewort, three-lobed water-crowfoot, white-faced darter dragonfly and natterjack toad.
Pond Conservation advises against filling a pond with tap water it isn’t necessarily clean enough. Rainwater is best. It says that nothing that adds unnatural concentrations to the water, such as fish food, soil or fertilisers should be used, and that too many ornamental fish won’t encourage a range of wildlife. The edges should be shallow species such as tadpoles, newt larvae, water beetles and dragonflies are all found in shallow water.
The charity Froglife is also urging people to build garden ponds. Its Jules Howard advises: ‘The decline of ponds is having a serious effect on amphibians, which are disappearing from some parts of the UK as a result. Building a pond is a way of providing a wildlife service. They are great fun to have and you don’t need much space.’
To obtain Froglife’s Just Add Water, telephone 01733 558960 or visit www.froglife.org