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Dig ponds to save UK’s rare wetland plants - Freshwater Habitats Trust

Digging clean water ponds in the countryside can deliver “unprecedented” gains for freshwater biodiversity, with new study showing they significantly boost wetland plant diversity and numbers of rare species.

Digging clean water ponds in the countryside can deliver “unprecedented” gains for freshwater biodiversity, with new study showing they significantly boost wetland plant diversity and numbers of rare species.

New research shows that creating clean-water ponds in the farmed countryside can dramatically increase levels of freshwater biodiversity, protecting our fragile ecosystems, and almost trebling the number of rare plant species.

A 9-year project showed that creating just 20 clean water ponds across a 10 km2 area of farmland increased the number of wetland plant species by more than a quarter (26%). The number of regionally rare plants almost trebled (a 181% increase). Species that were largely extinct in the wider countryside returned once more (see Note 1).

The benefits were an order of magnitude greater than observed using other, more traditional, biodiversity enhancement methods that were also tested. The ponds were also one of the cheapest interventions costing just £1500-2000 each to create.

Lead author Penny Williams from Freshwater Habitats Trust said, “The gains we saw are unprecedented for freshwater and are, by a long way, the largest recorded improvements in freshwater diversity seen from adding land management measures to countryside landscapes. Our previous work had already shown that ponds were a secret treasure in the British countryside – with a value out of proportion to their tiny size – however the scale of benefits from adding new ponds took all of us by surprise.”

Read the paper here

Posted on: 03 June 2020

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