We live on an increasing crowded island and as the population of the UK continues to grow increasingly we are encroaching on green-belt land and impacting on our natural environment. For mobile animals this is perhaps less of an issue, but there has been a substantial decline in the number of natural ponds in our countryside over many decades. This decline in ponds is having a significant impact on a natural waterborne wildlife.
Today, wildlife ponds in our back gardens are becoming increasingly important as refuges for our native flora and fauna and together create a huge network of habitats for wildlife. Remember that every single village used to have a pond, which provided drinking water for animals. On farms there would be ponds for various uses. Most of these have now slowly ebbed away and not been replaced, except for our own wildlife ponds.
‘Improved’ land drainage has also seen many ditches and land drains not being maintained in the time-honoured traditional ways, again removing a huge expanse of shallow water habitat from our countryside. All this has gone on almost unnoticed in many cases, but the ramifications for our wildlife have been huge, with many species having gone into decline.
So a wildlife pond is a source of water for many different organisms. On a warm summer evening I will often sit in my garden and watch the bats hunting insects over my wildlife pond. The pond is a haven for so much wildlife, not just what lives below the surface and the part it can play in encouraging wildlife into our gardens cannot be overstated.
Without wildlife ponds, we wouldn’t have as many dragonflies and damselflies flying around our private garden, or perhaps we would not even have frogs and newts. When we moved here in 2003, there was no water in the backyard, but we did have a few frogs, now we have thousands.
Without these wildlife ponds or any slow-moving bodies of water, we would see a few of our native plants disappear. Such as two of our largest British wildflowers. Both of our most important yellow and white wildflowers grow in slow-moving water: these pond plants come in the form of a pond lily largest yellow wildflower known as Brandy Bottles or by its Latin name: Nuphar lutea.
I guess that some people may see wildlife ponds as a little untidy and unkempt, but the wildlife really doesn’t care what the pond looks like, as long as the conditions are suitable. In fact, a too well groomed wildlife pond may actually discourage some animals which prefer to be left in peace. A good indicator of a healthy wildlife pond is clear water. Not all the time, as algal blooms are part of the natural cycle of pond life, but for much of the year. This suggests to me that there is a natural nutrient balance.
Wildlife ponds shouldn’t contain too many fish, as they can unfortunately upset the natural balance. There should literally be a buzz about the pond, created by the prolific wildlife, particularly after the first few years when the pond has become fully established. By this stage the pond should have taken on a natural appearance and look a little ‘rough around the edges’ just as nature intended!
So wildlife ponds have a huge part of play in the conservation of our British wildlife, but also they are fantastic places to unwind at the end of a busy day and to reconnect with the countryside in even the most urban back garden. I am a passionate believer that wildlife ponds are not only good for preserving wildlife, but also add immensely to our own sense of well being.