Million Ponds Promote Wildlife

Large_newdigate_pond_cNewdigate Pond (Charlie Hoare)

New wildlife ponds are being created at Inholms Claypit and Newdigate Brickworks, near Dorking, as the result of a joint project between Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) and Pond Conservation.  The ‘Million Ponds’ scheme is part funded by Biffaward grant aid and the work is being carried out by one of SWT’s approved contractors.

A series of small ponds have been designed, close together, with different depths, surface areas, bank gradients and shapes, to add diversity to the existing wildlife habitats and to help conserve Biodiversity Action Plan pond species found on the reserves, including great crested newts, common toads, grass snakes, pillwort and the very rare pondweed leafhopper bug.  The ponds and shallow ‘scrapes’ will naturally fill with rainwater, providing clean water for wildlife; a rare commodity in today’s countryside. Some will dry out in hot summers but many species such as pillwort are adapted to this cycle of wetting and drying and depend on it for their survival. The new wetland areas will also attract dragonflies, damselflies and other aquatic invertebrates. 

The ponds will not be planted up, as the best wildlife ponds develop naturally over time and introducing plants increases the risk of bringing in unwanted invasive alien plants such as New Zealand pigmyweed.  Fish will not be introduced as they would eat the invertebrates and amphibians the ponds are supposed to benefit!  Life finds its way to water very quickly and within a year the new pond complexes on both reserves will be teeming with life. 

SWT ranger, Steve Glasspool, says: “The Million Ponds project, which - rather unusually -focuses on wildlife instead of amenity, has provided a fantastic opportunity to extend a very valuable and fast declining habitat.” 

Date published: Wednesday 14 December 2011