Err…that’s not quite right, is it?

I notice a bit of text on the front page of a leaflet about garden ponds from a well known organisation’s website:

Apart from giving great pleasure to homeowners, garden ponds also provide a valuable habitat for most of our native wildlife. This is particularly so in rural areas where natural ponds are fast disappearing due to modern farming practices.”

Well, its certainly true that people get a lot of pleasure from their ponds. Unfortunately the two other ‘facts’ in this statement are not true.

Of course, as most people will realise, garden ponds do not provide a valuable habitat for ‘most of our native wildlife‘. If we look at the creatures and plants it’s easiest to assess, our information suggests that maybe 25% – a quarter – of freshwater invertebrates found in all freshwater habitats (rivers, lakes, streams, ditches and ponds) out in the rural landscape can be seen in garden ponds. This is actually pretty good – given the tiny area of garden ponds compared to these other habitats. But it ain’t ‘most‘: garden ponds are pretty rubbish for our most endangered fish and they’re rubbish, at present, for water plants, though they could probably be much better. They look to be pretty useful for 4 of our 7 native amphibians (though again not the most endangered ones) and they can be a pit stop for birds and mammals but no-one knows really how important they are in this role.

Ponds are disappearing in rural areas‘  This simply isn’t true. And it wasn’t true when the leaflet was written, either. Pond numbers in Britain are going up. The problem is, as readers of the blog will know, is that their quality is still going down.

Sorry chaps but this is simply too cavalier with the facts. And slightly amusing given that the people in question say: “We use technical and scientific data and research – our own and others’ – to……..underpin all of our work.’ Well, perhaps not in this case!

Garden ponds probably are adding useful habitat for some species, and we think they could be quite a lot better given how primitive our knowledge is of making good small ponds.

For example, our research (more on this later in the spring) indicates that in urban areas some of the cleanest water is in some (not all) garden ponds – rather than in the streams, rivers or lakes out in the wider world which are usually full of fairly contaminated ‘brown’ water.

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One Response to “Err…that’s not quite right, is it?”

  1. Lynn Bay Says:

    I agree with your article. In my area we have deer, raccoons, various birds and frogs that use the pond. Would probably have more interaction but there is a slow river just an acre away. I have been trying to encourage to make their ponds more wildlife friendly and to quit putting plants in them that will actually make the animals sick or kill them. Good luck with your article!

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