Restoring Norfolk's ponds
The Norfolk Ponds Project has set out on an ambitious project to restore 50 farmland ponds, predominantly in Norfolk, with support from the National Trust.
Did you know that Norfolk has an estimated 23,000 farmland ponds, more than any other English county?
Farmland ponds were once vital for cooling down agricultural machinery at harvest time and watering crops. But campaigns like ‘Dig for Victory’ during the Second World War led to thousands being filled-in, in the push to produce more food and intensify farming. Those that remained have also become heavily overgrown by scrub.
September 2019 has seen the first nine ponds restored as part of the ‘The Big50 initiative’, all close to the River Bure and Blickling Estate.
Overgrown ponds dominate the landscape here and work carried out by the Pond Restoration Research Group at University College London over the past 10 years has shown that restoring pond networks, can deliver major landscape-scale biodiversity benefits for aquatic plants, invertebrates, amphibians and even farmland birds and pollinators.
With funding from the National Trust’s Riverlands project, work to clear scrub and remove mud has now been completed, allowing more light into the ponds. They will now be left so that wildlife and plant communities can establish themselves, just like the seven ponds that were restored at Felbrigg Hall last year.
The aim of the restoration project is to create a more varied pond landscape, a hotspot for great crested newts which we know are in the area, as well as a more hospitable environment for the common frog, common toad and smooth newt. The work will also increase plant and invertebrate diversity and benefit farmland birds.
It is also anticipated that the change will re-germinate seeds that have lied dormant for hundreds of years, thanks to the warmth and light the new surroundings will bring.