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Million ponds good news for freshwater wildlife
Natural England welcomes the launch of Phase 2 of the Million Ponds project, which was celebrated in the House of Lords recently (18 September).
Wildlife charity Pond Conservation has announced, with Natural England and other partners, Phase 2 in its national Million Ponds Project, which aims to create 30,000 clean water ponds over the next 7 years, up to 2020.
Natural England has been working with Pond Conservation since the start of the project, contributing expertise and match-funding to help turn things around for pond life. New clean water ponds will be made at locations throughout England and Wales, with the first projects in the New Forest, Oxfordshire, Leicestershire, and Sussex. The work will provide new habitat for endangered freshwater plants and animals, building out from existing refuges, and extending clean water across whole landscapes. When completed we will see a landscape with the equivalent of a new clean water pond every couple of miles across the countryside.
Phase 1 of Million Ponds received major financial support from Biffa Award, who directly funded the construction of more than 1,000 ponds for many of the most endangered freshwater species in Britain. The new ponds have been created everywhere from the Lizard to Northumberland and the west of Wales to the Norfolk Broads. Ponds are already being colonised by endangered species such as tassel stonewort, great crested newt, shining ram’s-horn, Norfolk hawker dragonfly and grass-poly. The project also trained around 1,500 people from conservation organisations across England and Wales.
Dr Pete Brotherton, Head of Profession for Biodiversity at Natural England, who is speaking at the Phase 2 launch said: “Ponds are fantastic little biodiversity hot spots. They are key habitats for about 10% of England’s priority species and they also provide important links across England’s fragmented landscapes, helping species to cope with climate change. We’ve been strong supporters of the Million Ponds Project - pond creation provides a practical and cost-effective way of restoring nature, and we look forward to working with Pond Conservation to make Phase 2 a success.”
Natural England seconded two staff to the project over a two year period. This allowed for knowledge sharing between the two organisations and a wide range of other partners, and helped link our Higher Level Stewardship work with Pond Conservation staff – over 600 HLS agreements have been involved with the creation of new ponds. Our staff time and the provision of office space for the Northern Million Pond project officer provided much needed match funding and helped release funds from Tubney, Esmee Fairburn and Biffaward.
Dawn Isaac, who was seconded to the Million Ponds project said: “It was great to work with the charity’s passionate and committed staff and be part of the development of this important project. The project has made great progress and I hope that it realises its 50 year vision for a million ponds.”