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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  2013  /  July 2013  /  Clean water, high biodiversity ponds

Clean water, high biodiversity ponds

UCL team holds pond workshop

Clean water, high biodiversity ponds

Dr Carl Sayer and NERC funded PhD student Helen Greaves organised a farm pond workshop in Norfolk on 10th June to demonstrate how intensive farming and pond wildlife can happily co-exist.

More than 25 people attended, from the major UK conservation agencies, including the Environment Agency, Natural England, RSPB, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, and from local conservation agencies such as the Norfolk Rivers Trust, as well as local farmers and UCL staff.

The event was held at Manor Farm, owned by Richard Waddingham, in North Norfolk. This is a mixed farm growing eight different crops, with sheep and cattle grazing during some months of the year. Typically for pond-rich Norfolk, the 243 hectare farm has 40 ponds, including some in marl pits. Unlike many farmland ponds, which are overgrown, with low biodiversity, Richard manages his ponds on rotation to reduce terrestrialisation, so that aquatic biodiversity is exceptionally high. On-going studies by UCL show the huge benefits of this approach for aquatic wildlife.

The day started with short talks on the value of restored ponds in an agricultural landscape by Jeremy Biggs, Director of Pond Conservation, Richard Waddingham himself, and UCL’s Carl Sayer. The rest of the day was spent on a tour of the ponds (partly by tractor and cattle truck). The high biodiversity of the ponds was indeed exceptional, and there was much excitement over finding Great Crested Newts and Crucian Carp in some of them. Some 22 species of aquatic plants occur in the ponds and 19 species of dragonfly have been spotted, including the near-threatened Scarce Emerald Damselfly.

The message of the day was that the pond landscape at Manor Farm could be mimicked elsewhere with the encouragement of agri-environmental schemes. The informal nature of the day and the range of experts invited meant that everyone had a chance to talk, learn, and exchange knowledge and tips on how to increase biodiversity in farmland environments.


Carl Sayer with a Crucian Carp

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Carl Sayer
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