Thursday 19th February 2009
The project is backed by the UK’s largest landowners and marks a step change in how we protect our freshwaters.
One hundred years ago there were over a million ponds in Britain; in fields and meadows, and across mountains and moorlands. Now, half of those ponds have gone and of the few that remain, a shockingly small number (8 %) are in good condition.
|Tadpole shrimp (Triops cancriformis) © Geoffrey Fryer|
The Million Ponds Project will start by making 5000 ponds in the next four years, with a focus on 1000 sites that will benefit more than 80 species listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, that use or live in ponds. These include the spangled water beetle, tassel stonewort and the pondweed leafhopper. The project will provide a network of clean water havens for these and other endangered freshwater plants and animals that depend on unpolluted water.
Alan Titchmarsh, launching the project says ‘Ponds are a vital part of our natural and cultural heritage, which are sadly in decline. To help put this right, I am delighted to be launching the Million Ponds Project today. This fantastic initiative will make a real difference to the British countryside and will help to protect many of our most endangered plants and animals; it’s a good news story which we can all appreciate.’
|Crystal moss animal (Lophopus crystalinus) © micrographia|
The project is coordinated by Pond Conservation, working in partnership with Defence Estates, Environment Agency, RSPB, Ministry of Justice and the Forestry Commission who will be digging hundreds of ponds on their land. Natural England and the Countryside Council for Wales are funding regional Project Officers who will provide training and give on-site advice. Buglife and the Aquatic Coleoptera Conservation Trust are providing information about pond creation for rare species. The Herpetological Conservation Trust is co-ordinating part of the project, with the Amphibian and Reptile Groups (ARGs).
Dr Jeremy Biggs, Pond Conservation Director of Policy and Research says ‘Two thirds of all freshwater species live in ponds but until recently, no-one has taken ponds seriously. Making ponds is the easiest and quickest way of getting clean water back into the landscape, which is vital for protecting our freshwater wildlife. It can take 20 years, and millions of pounds, to clean up one river but you can dig a pristine new pond in a weekend and it will last for a hundred years. The Million Ponds Project is the first to recognise this great opportunity, and we can’t wait to get started’.