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The Forestry Commission has created hundreds of new ponds and restored wetlands in forests across England as part of its response to a changing climate. The new pond complexes store water during summer droughts, provide vital habitat for hard-pressed native wildlife and help alleviate floods.
The new ponds will support a wealth of threatened and declining wildlife including water voles, common toads, grass snakes, great crested newts, a variety of bats and rare plants such as pillwort.
Some 20 forests across eight counties will benefit from new ponds and wetland restoration including Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight, Alice Holt on the Surrey-Hampshire boundary and Delamere in Cheshire. There will be more ponds created in the south east, the region most likely to be affected by a changing climate.
As part of the wider Million Ponds Project co-ordinated by the national wetland conservation charity Pond Conservation, the creation of these new ponds is part of a four-year programme co-financed by Biffaward. It involves a range of partners and conservation organisations such as the Wildlife Trusts, British Dragonfly Society and Plantlife among others.
Dr Pascale Nicolet, Pond Conservation’s National Co-ordinator for the Million Ponds Project, said:
“These large pond complexes in forests provide some of the most valuable clean water habitats in the country supporting extraordinarily rich wildlife habitats. Creating new ponds is one of the best ways to quickly and cost-effectively improve the freshwater resource for wildlife.”
More than 40 new ponds have been constructed, linking existing ponds and wetlands, at Bramshill Forest in North Hampshire and Crowthorne Wood in Berkshire. Managed by the Forestry Commission and collectively part of the Thames Basin Heaths it is designated as being both nationally and internationally important for wildlife.
The new ponds act as stepping stones between existing water bodies to enable wildlife to move more freely across the landscape. The area has been identified by the British Dragonfly Society as one of the best sites in the country for dragonflies and damselflies.
The scope of the Forestry Commissions ongoing Defra-funded habitat management across these sites has been significantly increased by the Million Ponds funding and support from a Plantlife SITA fund bid for threatened plants.
Jay Doyle, Forestry Commission Ecologist, said:
“Creating and restoring ponds and other wetlands on the public forest estate demonstrates the Forestry Commission’s commitment to conserving and enhancing our shared natural heritage. This work will contribute to a more resilient countryside better able to cope with the predicted impact of climate change. This includes an increase in the frequency and intensity of flooding and drought events over the coming decades.”
The Million Ponds Project aims to reverse the long-term decline in the clean water resource and the wildlife it supports by putting back new ponds in parts of the landscape, such as forests, where they won’t be exposed to pollutants or disturbance in the long-term.
Notes to Editors
- The Forestry Commission manage more than 250,000 hectares (ha) of woodlands in England. Most of this land is open for public access and the Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in the country. For further information visit: www.forestry.gov.uk
- The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.
- 2011 is the United Nations International Year of the Forests and the Forestry Commission is working at a landscape-scale in partnership with a variety of conservation organisations to champion the recovery of native habitats and wildlife. In addition to sustainably managing England’s public timber resource the Forestry Commission manage an important resource of open habitats including heathland, wetland and grassland as part of its forest systems.
- The Forestry Commission oversees the management of some 68,000 ha of nationally important wildlife site or Special Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSIs) 98% of which are in a favourable or recovering condition.
- Pond Conservation is a charity which aims to protect and increase the freshwater biodiversity of landscapes, using ponds as a major focus. It carries out a wide range of works to create, conserve and protect ponds and their wildlife. Pond Conservation is co-ordinating the Million Ponds Project, which in partnership with Biffaward is supporting the creation of ponds on the Forestry Commission estate. For more information visit www.pondconservation.org.uk/millionponds.
Jo Spouncer, PR contact, Forestry Commission South East England
T: 01483 326265 M: 07828 762045 E: firstname.lastname@example.org