The Re-Pond Project

by WWT in Gloucester, England, United Kingdom

The Re-Pond Project

Total raised £11

 
Gift Aid
+ est. £2.75
£369,558 target 99 days left
0% 2 supporters
This project will only be funded if at least £369,558 is pledged by 9th June 2024 at 12:00pm

To deliver pond restoration and creation to support nature recovery across the Severn Vale and Somerset Coastal Levels.

by WWT in Gloucester, England, United Kingdom

We’ve lost nearly 60% of our ponds in the Severn Vale in the last 120 years.  Will you help us to re-pond?

Who are we and what do we want to do?

We are WWT the wetland restoration charity. We’re on a mission to restore wetlands because they are a wondrous solution to the problems our world faces. Together we will unlock their power – and help nature burst back to life. Because when wetlands flourish, all life will flourish. 

Wetlands are ‘weapons of mass creation’.  Teeming with wildlife, some wetlands help to reduce flooding and purify water, whilst others sequester enormous amounts of carbon.  We know that spending time amongst wetlands is good for our mental and physical wellbeing. From ponds and ditches to floodplains and saltmarshes, thriving wetlands enrich lives. 

Our mission is to restore wetlands and unlock their power. To do this, we have set the ambitious target of creating and restoring at least 20,000 hectares of wetlands across the UK by 2030, with a focus on more, bigger, better and connected wetlands. The Re-Pond Project will make a significant contribution towards this in two of the most iconic wetland landscapes in England: the Severn Vale and Somerset Coastal Levels.

What we hope to achieve

Ponds are hotspots for wildlife, supporting disproportionately large numbers of freshwater species and playing a significant role in the food webs of species in the wider landscape. Ponds are therefore valuable to a breadth of wildlife, including farmland birds, bats and pollinators, as well as threatened species, such as water vole and the critically endangered European eel. Ponds also provide many benefits to people. In some circumstances, they can contribute to reducing flood risk, storing water in times of excess, which may then be welcomed during periods of drought. They are also places we are drawn to for quiet reflection and active recreation.

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Despite their value, WWT research shows that nearly 60% of ponds have been lost from the Severn Vale since 1900. Over the same period, as pond numbers have declined, the average distance between ponds has increased, which may have an isolating impact on pond wildlife, including amphibians, insects and plants.

We want to reverse this worrying decline, restoring ponds in poor condition and those which have been lost – ‘ghost ponds’ – as well as creating new ponds and small freshwater wetlands throughout the Severn Vale and Somerset Coastal Levels landscapes.

We also want to share our knowledge and experience of pond wildlife and management with the local community, inspiring and empowering them to take action into the future.  Like ripples on the water, we hope to spread the message far and wide about the power of ponds!

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The story so far

As part of the now completed ‘Flourishing Floodplains’ project, which ran from September 2021 to March 2023, WWT and partners created and restored 35 ponds, scrapes and in-ditch features on land belonging to rural estates, farmers, smallholders and charities in the Severn and Avon Vales. 

Now, through word of mouth, we have been approached by a number of other land managers keen to undertake wetland creation or restoration on their land, which unfortunately we were unable to deliver within the budget and time constraints of the original ‘Flourishing Floodplains’ project. We are eager to keep up momentum for this important work through The Re-Pond Project.

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Project aims and objectives

With additional funding from P4N and working with our landowner partners, WWT aims to deliver a minimum of 30 new or restored ponds and other small freshwater wetlands within the Severn Vale and nearby Somerset Coastal Levels over a three-year period. The project will only be able to progress of 100% funding is secured.

As well as delivering pond creation and restoration activities directly, we will seek to improve access to information and guidance on pond creation, management and ecology, using a range of approaches, such as  landowner workshops, webpages, guidance materials and/or on-site interpretation

Our specific objectives for The Re-Pond Project are:

  • To create/restore a minimum of 30 ponds and other small freshwater wetlands
  • To contribute to the recovery of threatened native species such as the critically endangered European eel, bats and farmland birds
  • To support insect pollinators through pond restoration/creation
  • To increase local knowledge of appropriate pond management practices
  • To support wider ecosystem services, which could include natural flood management and drought resilience

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How funding will be used

Your funding will support the design, planning and delivery of our programme of pond creation and restoration activities over three years.  We will engage and then work with landowners to co-design ponds and other small wetlands on suitable sites throughout the Severn Vale and Somerset Coastal Levels landscapes.  

Ponds will be expertly designed to maximise their biodiversity value and provide other benefits where possible, whilst handling statutory and legal considerations, including consents and permissions.  We will appoint and supervise contractors to deliver the groundworks in accordance with agreed plans.

In addition to this, we have allocated a pot of funding to support our education and engagement work.  Depending on interest and support from our landowner partners, we will put this money towards the development of guidance materials (e.g. webpages, factsheets and/or videos), landowner and community workshops, and on-site signage and interpretation.  This will produce a wealth of different materials to inform and inspire local audiences on pond ecology and conservation techniques.

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Are there any challenges?

To achieve the project’s objectives, we are reliant on the willingness of landowners to host pond creation or restoration on their land and protect these features in the long-term.  In many cases, we will need to obtain planning permission or agricultural permitted development consent to progress these activities.

Although these are challenges to project success, WWT has substantial experience of delivering wetland creation in these landscapes and as a result we know how to overcome these hurdles. There is a strong appetite for pond creation and restoration amongst local landowners, so we expect to be overwhelmed with demand as we have been in the past.

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Our Dream

Ponds are part of daily life within the landscapes of the Severn Vale and Somerset Coastal Levels.  Most farmers have at least one pond within their landholding, where on a summer’s day you might watch a kingfisher hunting for dinner from a woody perch or hear the plop of a water vole heading back to its bankside burrow.  The grass around these ponds remains lush and green, even in the searing heat, which is welcome news to the farmer and his small herd of beef cattle.

Residents of villages across the landscape love their neighbourhood ponds.  As part of a natural flood management programme, ponds have helped to reduce their risk of flooding after extreme rainfall.  They also enjoy visiting ponds within their local park as part of their daily walk.  They didn’t used to get out much, but they feel so much better after a stroll around their beautiful, wildlife-rich community wetland, where their children and grandchildren enjoy catching abundant tadpoles and dragonfly larvae in jam jars as they used to do in their own childhoods.  All of this makes people feel proud of their wildlife and community.

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Thank you for reading our story and finding out more about our project.  We hope you’ll join us to re-pond to wetland loss in the Severn Vale and Somerset Coastal Levels.

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