New campaign to save Norfolk’s ponds

Ducks on the pond at Great Massingham. Picture: Ian Burt Ducks on the pond at Great Massingham. Picture: Ian Burt

Thursday, June 26, 2014
7:45 AM

They might not be quite as glamourous as Norfolk’s majestic Broads. But nature lovers have launched a campaign to preserve the county’s 23,000 ponds.

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Our finest ponds?

A pond is defined as any sheet of water between one square metre - barely room to swing a frog - and two hectares.

Among our county’s finest are those which form a centrepiece to timeless village scenes, such as the sweep of water which greets you as you approach Great Massingham, reflecting the spire of the village church. The nearby pub is even called the Dabbling Duck - in tribute to the quacking throng which criss-cross its waters. At Boughton, the pond is literally the centre of the village, with houses encircling it. While both conjure timeless scenes, more modern ponds have much to offer. Dug a few decades back as a borrow pit, to provide the foundations for the Snettisham bypass, Springside Lake is an oasis next to the busy A149. Great carp swirl amid the rushes, while skylarks trill overhead.

While it boasts more of them than any other county, many are under threat from neglect, pollution and changing land use.

Now a Norfolk Pond Partnership has been set up to inspire people to look after them.

The group includes the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Farm Conservation, Norfolk Freshwater Study Group, University College London, Norfolk Non-Native Species Initiative and Natural England.

It hopes to encourage landowners to take action to care for ponds and also establish community restoration projects to bring them back into use.

Graphic: Annette Hudson. Source: Norfolk Wildlife Trust.Graphic: Annette Hudson. Source: Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

As well as providing help and guidance to landowners, the partnership also hopes to establish a pond conservation fund that can be used to support practical pond restoration projects including the re-excavation of so-called “ghost ponds” - those that have been lost over the years to agricultural land reclamation.

Helen Baczkowska, conservation officer at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said: “Ponds are incredible places for wildlife and hold a real fascination for many people.

“The Norfolk Pond Partnership is a way of pooling information and expertise on Norfolk’s ponds. In the coming months we will be seeking resources to provide advice and support to people hoping to manage ponds for wildlife.

“In the meantime, drop in to see us at the Show – we will have pond plants and pond beasties to look at and some pond experts to chat to.”

Most of Norfolk’s ponds are located on farmland. Many were dug as marl or clay pits to provide building materials, or livestock-watering ponds in the 17th to 19th centuries.

Parts of the Brecks, West Norfolk and sites north of Norwich are also home to pingos – ponds that occupy ice depressions formed during the last great ice age. Ponds also form a centrepiece for many villages, such as Boughton or Great Massingham.

Ponds can be wonderful habitats for aquatic biodiversity including threatened and important species such as the great crested newt, crucian carp, water vole and plants like stoneworts and pondweeds. They also provide a refuge for more than two thirds of Britain’s rarest freshwater wetland invertebrates.

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