Digger at work removing silt, photo by Emily Nobbs 1/4
Pond restoration this week, photo by Josh Jaggard 2/4
Volunteers restoring ponds this week, photo by Anne Casey 3/4
Volunteers restoring a pond, photo by Josh Jaggard 4/4

Pond partnership restoration project

Thursday 18 September, 2014

Two farmland ponds in the village of Baconsthorpe, close to Bodham are being restored this week by conservationists from the Norfolk Ponds Project. The work is funded and driven by University College London (UCL) with the support of Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) and partner organisations. The Norfolk Ponds project aims to enhance the wildlife value of the county’s ponds.

UCL, NWT and Norfolk conservation volunteers are removing trees and bushes from the south and west sides of the overgrown ponds to let sunlight in. A digger will then remove sediment, celebrating the natural shape of the ponds. Trees left on the north side of the ponds provide cover and protection for wildlife.

Wildlife in ponds suffers when ponds become shaded and full of silt and so a digger will excavate the ponds. The pond’s original shape and depth will be retained. These ponds are 18th to 19th century former marl pits, where limey clay was dug and then spread on the fields as an early form of soil improvement. The plan is to revisit the ponds in a year’s time to see what has flourished.

Ponds can be wonderful habitats for aquatic biodiversity including threatened and important species such as great crested newt, crucian carp, water vole and plants like stoneworts and pondweeds. They act as brilliant stepping stones for wildlife to hop and fly across the landscape. UCL research at the two Baconsthorpe ponds showed the presence of crucian carp prior to the 1980’s; both are now in a poor state for aquatic plants and amphibians, and crucians are now absent.

The Norfolk Ponds Project was launched at this year’s Royal Norfolk Show. Partners include University College London, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Norfolk Rivers Trust, Norfolk Non-Native Species Initiative, Norfolk Freshwater Study Group and Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership.

Dr Carl Sayer from University College London said: “Pond conservation and intensive agriculture can happily co-exist and we hope to enable and inspire landowners to take action to care for their ponds. UCL has been carrying out a programme of pond restoration work for five years now, which we are hoping to expand and build on. With funding and the support of volunteers and the farming community, we can bring Norfolk ponds back to life. Our research has shown that farmland birds such as swallows, house martins, linnets and finches also benefit from pond restoration, so it is not just aquatic species that we are helping.”

Conservation Officer at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Helen Baczkowska said: “Ponds are incredible places for wildlife. They are mini nature reserves in their own right – teeming with life and fascinating to many people. But they need care to maintain their wildlife interest. Ponds are amazingly easy to turn around, even as the trees were coming down this week; dragonflies were seen over the pond for the first time in years.”

Norfolk Ponds Project would like to thank Peter Seaman and Paul Marsh at CJC Lee (Saxthorpe Limited) and the River Glaven Conservation Group for their support this week.
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