The Importance of Wildlife Ponds
In the last 100 years Britain has lost over half of its natural ponds due to land drainage and building and the threat to precious aquatic wildlife is unfortunately ever increasing. Recent research has shown 80% of wildlife ponds in the UK are in a poor or very poor state.
In the late 18th century natural ponds were estimated to be around 1.2 million and now only 400,000 are left and of that, only 20% are considered a priority habitat, meaning of significant conservation and ecological importance. Those that remain are often polluted or managed for the leisure industry and rarely support an abundance of even common species, so it is no wonder why some of our aquatic and sub aquatic wildlife has suffered dramatic falls in population and may even be under threat of extinction.
Creating a wildlife pond helps to encourage wildlife into your garden by recreating lost habitat. Few will be suitable for more specialised freshwater species but species like the Common Frog now do better in man-made garden ponds than the wilder countryside. And this is good news for reducing slugs and snails in your garden as they form part of the Frogs diet.
Even very small water bodies will create a habitat for some species, from water troughs to garden containers filled with rain water; if left even for a short period of time they will attract an abundance of aquatic invertebrates. Wildlife ponds create ‘stepping stones’ for wildlife to migrate from one place to the next and suitable habitats for breeding and feeding.
Fish ponds and even formal ponds and water features will also attract some wildlife species but for maximum diversity nothing beats a carefully designed wildlife pond. A bog garden will encourage a variety of plants to thrive and because their root systems remain wet they will grow to their full potential, remaining colourful and lush.
Any wildlife such as birds, insects and bats can drink from the shallower areas and amphibians can gain access, even hedgehogs can escape should they accidently wander in at night.
Fish are not normally suited for wildlife ponds because they eat all the small larvae and eggs from invertebrates and amphibians. A very small number of Tench, Rudd or Gudgeon will not usually cause a pond’s ecosystem to crash, but to introduce Goldfish, Shubunkins or Sarasa’s and they will breed and prevent other animals from reproducing. Koi will even eat the plants and disrupt the balance massively.
If you already have a pond, it’s important to keep it maintained. Even wildlife ponds with no filtration will require cleaning and plants cutting back. This aids water quality and improves biodiversity throughout the pond, encouraging aquatic vegetation to grow, producing flowers and ensures amphibians have habitat they need.
If you don’t have a pond; what a great opportunity to get involved with the wonderful world of water gardening. Encourage an array of wildlife to your outdoor space and reap the benefits of having water in your garden.