Friday, 20 February 2009

A Million Ponds by 2059

Yesterday evening, the BES Science Policy Team attended the launch of the Million Ponds Project. The ambitious project is a national initiative to reverse the long-term decline in ponds; from around a million 100 years ago, to 500,000 now. Of those that remain, only 8% are thought to be in good condition.

Launching the project last night, Alan Titchmarsh focused on the need for the conservation community to communicate with the public over not only the importance of ponds for wildlife, but also the joy to be had from engaging with nature. Well set-up and maintained ponds provide a fantastic habitat for freshwater organisms but also provide a unique area where children can learn about the natural environment.

Pond Conservation, a national charity dedicated to creating and protecting ponds, and other freshwaters, and the wildlife they support, is co-ordinating the project. Other organisations who are taking part, digging the ponds and providing advisors to assist those wishing to establish ponds on their land, are: Countryside Council for Wales, Natural England, Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission and many others. In total, 11 major partners are involved. The Ministry of Justice and Defence Estates are key partners, wishing to establish ponds in prison grounds and on firing ranges.

Over the first five-years of the project, which is to run for 50 years in total, Pond Conservation hope to facilitate the establishment of 5,000 ponds, at a cost of £3million. Establishing and maintaining ponds is key for the survival of freshwater species: the IUCN has warned that freshwater biodiversity is extremely threatened, and there are more threatened species in ponds in Britain than in lakes or rivers.

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