Ponds set to boost wildlife at Oulton Marshes reserve

They may look a bit empty and bereft of life at the moment, but a series of ponds on a north Suffolk nature reserve should become a popular destination for animal and plants.

Work has been completed on creating four turf ponds at Oulton Marshes reserve, at Oulton, near Lowestoft, which are hoped will lead to even more wildlife flocking to the area.

The ponds were dug at the Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve between Friday and yesterday.

Once finished it is hoped the four ponds will attract a wide range of fenland animal and plant life to the new fresh water sites on the 230-acre reserve, which is popular with walkers who enjoy viewing its reed beds, dykes and scrub.

Species that the trust hope will take advantage of the ponds include Norfolk hawker and scarce chaser dragonflies, bittern, lapwing, teal, and plant life such as greater water parsnip.

The ponds recreate a previous Oulton Marshes habitat created by peat digging during the Victorian times.

A digger from Great Yarmouth-based T H Quirk carried out the excavations.

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The ponds are about half a metre deep with two of them being 6m by 12m in size while the other two are 2m by 6m in size.

Broad reserves warden Matt Gooch hopes that within weeks plants and animals will make the ponds, which have shallow edges, their new homes or use them as a feeding site.

Mr Gooch, who has been at the reserve for five years, said: 'Oulton Marshes has a history of turf pond digging, and similar ponds on this and other sites have become some of the most diverse areas of fen in the Broads.

'Shallow peat diggings, or turf ponds, were created in the Broads in Victorian times.

'Some were dug to provide fuel while others may have been cut as a way of clearing fen to improve the quality of the reed and sedge harvest.

'When these turf ponds were allowed to be recolonised by wildlife, they proved a rich source of diverse vegetation, and today the most species-rich areas tend to be found where turf ponds were once dug.

'By creating more of this exceptional habitat we expect the reserve to become much more enriched as a result.'

The ponds cost about �4,000 and were funded by a grant from the Million Ponds Project through the Biffaward

Biffaward is a multi-million pound fund which awards grants to community and environmental projects with money from landfill tax credits donated by Biffa Waste Services.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust is seeking to restore, recreate or reconnect 30,000 acres of habitat linked to its reserves.

anthony.carroll@archant.co.uk

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