Farmland ponds are important habitat for wetland wildlife in the agricultural landscape. Healthy networks of these ponds, at different stages of their ‘lives’, help wetland species to move around farmland habitats. As habitat fragmentation continues to increase, they are more important than ever. Without them, many native species would struggle to survive. WWT are working to increase the number of ponds in farmland by helping landowners to restore existing overgrown ponds and create new ones.
Historically ponds on farmland were an important resource, used to water livestock and crops, and as ornamental features for fish and ducks. Ponds were an essential part of rural life. In some parts of the UK it wasn’t uncommon to have four or five ponds in one field.
However, due to changing methods in agriculture, the creation and maintenance of farmland ponds has become a thing of the past. Conservative estimates of pond loss suggest that almost 50% of farm ponds have been lost in the UK in the last 50 years. In Norfolk alone it is estimated that more than 8,000 ponds have been lost since the 1950s leading to a loss of diversity and abundance of invertebrates, animals and plants. Whilst some ponds have been filled in to increase land for agriculture, creating ‘ghost’ ponds, others have simply not been cared for and so have become areas of overgrown scrub.
Elena von Benzon