Monday, 8 February 2010

Report on UK Ponds

I just had to say it’s a shame that, according to a recent report by The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Pond Conservation, 80 percent of ponds in England and Wales are in poor or very poor condition. Apparently, ponds are more important for the protection of freshwater biodiversity than previously realised.

Pond Conservation is a charity for creating and protecting ponds and the wildlife they support, and they have a Million Ponds Project which aims to create a network of new ponds across the UK. These new ponds will have clean water which, the Pond Conservation website says, is important, because most countryside ponds are damaged by pollution. Making new, clean ponds is the simplest way of protecting freshwater wildlife. Pond Conservation gives advice on creating new ponds, or how to make a donation.

The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology is the UK's Centre of Excellence for integrated research in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and their interaction with the atmosphere. Their website describes their scope as: “Working in partnership with the research community, policymakers, industry and society, we deliver world-class solutions to the most complex environmental challenges facing humankind.” Their press release on the ponds reports can be seen here. They report some positive signs for water habitats, such as “improvements in the quality of headwater streams, an increase in the number of ponds, a reduction in phosphorus in soils and recovery in some soils from the effects of acid rain”, but also negatively on the degradation of ponds in England and Wales.

The British countryside has around 50,000 man-made and natural ponds, according to this report, including the heathland ponds of the New Forest (close to where I operate, so of particular interest to me). Hampshire has over 20,000 hectares of low heathland, more than any other county in England, providing a diversity of habitats for many species of plants and animals.

The bogs and wetlands of the New Forest (which contribute to the National Park’s designation as a Special Area of Conservation) may be either year-round ponds, or simply wet areas, but both support a wide range of wildlife. Makes me realise I’m privileged to live so close to such a special area.

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