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Ponds - big or small

We are all very aware of the need for more ponds in and around our gardens and other wild spaces, so it's encouraging to see the Royal Horticultural Society team up with The Wildlife Trusts to lunch Big or Small, Ponds for All!

The focus on ponds is part of a new Wild About Gardening challenge which is providing a Big or Small, Ponds for All booklet. A step-by-step guide to creating the perfect pond, large or small, and when they say "small" they mean it! Even mini containers pressed into use as a pond provides essential habitat for wildlife.

As was pointed out in the press release that launched the project, "much of the UK's native flora and fauna under threat, often down to habitat loss, Wild About Gardens sees the two charities join forces to raise awareness of the importance of gardens in supporting wildlife and offer tips and advice on how to make them more wildlife-friendly."

Sadly we are all too aware that the UK has lost ponds, rivers and streams and that only a small amount of our natural ponds and wetlands remain. Not only is this impacting on wildlife but on us too due to the loss of areas vital in holding carbon and also to help with the slow release of rainwater into existing watercourses. Of those that are left, many are in poor condition. As the press release goes on to say, "13% of freshwater and wetland species are threatened with extinction from Great Britain." See State of Nature Report 2016 for more details.

It would seem that development, drainage and intensive farming are all linked to the decline in wildlife. However, by adding a pond to your back garden, or by merely filling a waterproof container outside your front door you can help wildlife. In doing so, and by locating these containers close to home, you can also enjoy the benefits of seeing water plants flowering plus birds and bees at close quarters.

There are knock-on effects of digging a pond. Hedgehogs, for example, will have somewhere to drink from, vital if we are to reverse the horrific decline in the ‘gardeners friend'. And of course, a point will benefit frogs, newts and other amphibians to feed and breed. If like many others, you have become aware of the decline in insect numbers you might be encouraged by the fact that ponds of any size are ideal for boosting insect numbers, and in doing so good news for bats. Damselflies, dragonflies, and a vast array of other insects will also benefit from more ponds and wetland areas.

Ellie Brodie, Senior Policy Manager at The Wildlife Trusts, says:

"It's such fun to help wildlife with a pocket pond – it needn't be big. All you need to do is fill an old sink or washing-up bowl with rainwater, plant it up and make sure that wildlife can get in and out – it's easy! I love watching bright blue damselflies landing on the irises in my pond – they're so beautiful, and it's great knowing I'm helping local wildlife."

So if you are inspired to create your own wetland area, pond or simply put out a container of rainwater into which you will put some pond plants, the Big or Small, Ponds for All booklet might come in handy. Click on the link to get hold of your copy. Having set up a half barrel pond in our garden last year, I can vouch for the difference it makes to the local wildlife and the look of the garden itself.

© Phil Pickin

Image: © Anna Williams