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Ponds and the good things they do for wildlife

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Kate Humble Kate Humble | 19:28 UK time, Tuesday, 2 June 2009

A pond looks great in any garden. And as wetlands and ponds across the country get filled in and polluted by agricultural runoff, they are becoming increasingly important havens for our wildlife.

About a third of ponds in the UK have disappeared in the last 50 years. What's more, about 80% of those that remain are in poor condition for wildlife.

Ponds aren't just homes for lots of freshwater animals like frogs and newts, they also provide bathing water for birds and a drink for your other garden visitors.

You don't need a lot of space or money to create a wildlife pond. Even a small pond can be a watery home for invertebrates like dragonflies and water boatman. Frogs, toads and newts will prefer something over 1-2 metres in diameter.

I've been creating a pond in my garden with advice from the WWT. You can follow how it takes shape over the coming weeks and months on the WWT website. And below is the film we showed in Springwatch.

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If you want to build your own wildlife pond, the design is crucial. Here are some things to bear in mind:

  • Shallow edges allow animals to get easily in and out
  • Use rainwater rather than tap water to fill it if you can
  • To keep the water as clean as possible, ensure soil, garden fertilisers or other chemicals can't be washed into the pond
  • Use native pond plants
  • Ornamental fish will eat larvae and other pond life so leave them out if you want to maximise the variety of animals in your pond

There's loads of great help and advice available from Pond Conservation, Breathing Places and Froglife.

And when you've built one and helped wildlife, why not help science? There are a number of organisations dying to find out how you get on:

Pond Conservation
are running the Big Garden Pond Dip. They'd like you to look for the 10 or so types of easily recognisable animals that indicate if your pond is in good shape. All you need is a kitchen sieve and a white tray to get dipping.

The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust want to hear about the ponds and boggy areas in your garden in their Wetlands in My Back Yard survey.

The British Trust for Ornithology, Froglife and the Herpetological Conservation Trust want to hear about any reptiles and amphibians you find in your garden. Contact them to get a survey pack.


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