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The importance of ponds

Sit quietly at the edge of a managed farmland pond on a warm summer’s day and you’ll be rewarded with an abundant display of wildlife. You’ll see dragonflies hawking in search of prey over a mosaic of brightly coloured water plants, which are in turn visited by a host of bees and other pollinators. Where sunlight penetrates below the water surface, myriads of insect life can be seen; mayflies, damselflies, water beetles, scorpions and snails – many of which spend most of their life underwater in larval stages. Wait long enough, and you might spot a hobby swoop down to snatch a dragonfly in mid-air, a water vole feast on bankside vegetation or a grass snake silently slide across the water surface in search of frogs.

Yet, they are a habitat in crisis: 50% of ponds were lost in Britain over the 20th century and of those remaining, 80% are in poor condition.

A recent survey recorded 21,222 ponds in Norfolk alone. The majority are overgrown and currently support little diversity but pond restoration has been repeatedly shown to drastically increase the diversity of many groups of wildlife, including insects, plants and birds. Imagine the benefits to wildlife if these large aquatic networks were restored. Could they act as stepping stones, allowing species to move freely within a landscape? Could they restore the once abundant wetland habitats that existed before damaging activities such as drainage began? Could they improve the resilience of populations, whilst also reversing some worrying declines in British wildlife?

Jonathan Lewis-Phillips, managing director at Rivers Ecology studied his PhD on the importance of farmland pond management for birds. His findings showed that managed rural farm ponds are an important feeding and breeding ground for many species of bird, in particular red-listed declining species such as Yellowhammer and Linnet. In contrast, where farm ponds had been allowed to become heavily overgrown, a very limited number of bird species were present.

This growing research library clearly shows the many benefits of restoring ponds. Rivers Ecology are highly experienced in pond restoration and creation and we're proud to play a part in reinstating these vital habitats. To learn more about Rivers Ecology pond restoration services, click here.

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