March to December 2007, run by HART and Herefordshire Nature Trust
Nearly 300 ponds were surveyed during the Ponds and Newts Project, of which almost 50% supported great crested newts, but a lot of habitat neglect was identified. In response HART was keen to raise the profile of ponds and to restore some with the help of local communities.
So the aims of the Pond Restoration and Celebration Project were to:
- restore five ponds that were accessible to the public with the help of local people
- set up community-based pond groups for each pond and provide training and support so that they could manage the pond beyond the life of the project
- run five awareness-raising pond celebration events at inspirational wildlife ponds
The five pond celebration days were held over the summer months with a large group of helpers and experts from HART, either stationed about the pond enthusing about wildlife, or manning the admin, tea and cakes, and making the events very enjoyable experiences.
The first was at Ashperton in June: a farm walk organised by and in partnership with FWAG to inspire the farming community, with HART volunteers dipping the ponds. Later visitors to Breinton Manor and Westonbury Mill Water Gardens braved the rain, while those at Woodlea and Kenchester Aquatic Centre were more lucky. Many thanks to the owners for all their preparation and for talking to people about the ponds' creation and management. See photos of some of the events.
The five ponds to be restored were selected for the project prior to its start and had the support of landowners and members of the local community. All had permissive access or public rights of way nearby and were visited by local people. The ponds at Ross on Wye and Holme Lacy fell into the Wye Valley AONB area, and ponds at Madley, Honeymoor Common and Staunton-on-Wye fell into the Herefordshire Rivers LEADER+ area, thus permitting the funding of the project.
Madley Moat (near the tennis club) had major tree clearance using a combination of contractors and volunteers. The previously closed canopy was opened up so that the sun can get in, lots of debris was dragged out of the water and habitat piles built in different places for the benefit of reptiles and amphibians. It’s now possible to get a vista across open water and even see the shape of the moat, and the water quality looks better already. However the pond will need more hard work by volunteers to manage it for wildlife into the future.
At Holme Lacy, the parkland pond has been dug back to its original banks. At the moment it is still separated from the existing pond, but once life has moved in and we are sure it will hold water, the division can be dug out to join the two together again.
At Staunton-on-Wye, the bulrush-choked pond was dug out completely and a shallow margin dug on the southeastern side to increase the draw-down zone and encourage water mint and other good egg-laying plants for newts.
At Honeymoor Common HART was unable to find a sustainable and affordable way of dealing with the pond that is thick with Crassula. To prevent this highly invasive weed spreading into other watercourses, the pond vegetation and silt needed to be disposed of off-site, but the cost of transporting it to composting or landfill plants was extortionate. However, in the other pond on the common Will Watson found bucket loads of great crested newts, plus a rare beetle and snail, so work was transferred to that one. Work involved digging a scrape in an old pond that was just marsh, cutting down marauding willow and creating habitat piles.
Finally, the Welsh Water pond at Ross-on-Wye was subjected to tree management, with pollarding, coppicing and the clearing of willow where it had established in the pond itself.
We have had the support of 41 volunteers putting in a tremendous total of 602 hours! Many thanks to all the HART members who have spent time helping with celebration events, pond work and admin!