Pond restorations could benefit farmland wildlife

Norfolk Ponds Project. Pictured: Helen Greaves.

Norfolk Ponds Project. Pictured: Helen Greaves. - Credit: Submitted

The potential benefits of farmland pond restoration – and any pitfalls preventing conservation work – will be discussed at a practical workshop later this month.

The free event at Manor Farm in Briston, near Fakenham, on May 17 will explain the value of ponds for wildlife and biodiversity enhancement within a landscape of intensive agriculture.

It will also highlight some of the findings of the Norfolk Ponds Project (NPP), which has carried out research and restoration projects with partners including the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) and University College London (UCL).

Helen Greaves, a PhD candidate at the UCL's Environmental Change Research Centre, has been working on pond restoration in north Norfolk for the past three years.

She said the aim of the workshop was to pass on the results of the studies, show how habitats for plants, invertebrates and birds could be improved – and gather feedback from farmers on what the practical difficulties could be.

'We now have some really good evidence that pond management and restoration is really good for farmland wildlife,' she said. 'The ponds we were looking at were very overgrown. You get no light in and it is really sheltered from the wind so there is no turnover of oxygen. In the ponds we restored, we have found a great increase in biodiversity in terms of plants, animals and amphibians.

'What we want to do on the day is to talk about our findings, to show some of the wildlife, and to talk about whether your pond needs management. I also want to get some feedback to find out what issues there are with doing this kind of restoration.

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'I come from an educational background. It is all very well finding out fantastic things and telling other scientists, but if we don't talk to other people it is not helping anyone.

'There might be practical reasons why that science cannot be applied. Maybe it is about lack of time or the need for a financial incentive. That can all feed into the NPP, and perhaps help them apply for grant funding in the future.'

The workshop is aimed primarily at young farmers aged 18-40 and the group will be limited to about 20 people.

An online questionnaire has also been provided to collect opinions about the management of farmland ponds from commercial farmers, conservationists or interested members of the public. All participants will be entered into a prize draw, with a £75 Amazon voucher awarded to the winner.

To apply for the workshop or complete the questionnaire, click here or contact Helen Greaves on helen.greaves.11@ucl.ac.uk or 07855 351269.