The establishment of such a network would also have ecological and wider landscape benefits in the form of wildlife refuges for biodiversity as well as providing ecosystem services such as freshwater provision, flood control, groundwater recharge, and pollution amelioration, thereby playing a key role as a nature-based solution in national climate adaptation. In fact, ponds host more biodiversity than rivers and lakes, particularly macroinvertebrates and less common species. In addition, they provide a host of amenity benefits, including opportunities for recreation, education, improved health and wellbeing, and community participation.
The Legacy4LIFE programme is a direct contribution by Ireland to the new European Green Deal approved in 2020. It comprises three distinct strands – Ponds for Biodiversity, Advancing “Farm to Fork”, and Green Communities.
- The Ponds for Biodiversity project will look to build Irish capacity and expertise in pond creation, management, and conservation and to disseminate much needed information on the value of ponds for biodiversity, water quality and climate mitigation, in addition to public amenity/blue space.
- Advancing “Farm to Fork” will seek to educate both producers and consumers in Ireland on the opportunities offered by the Farm to Fork alternatives to current intensification-based food production methods. It will centre on clarifying cost and impacts of current agricultural practices by reference to science-based evidence and then promoting the role of organic agriculture in delivering a robust, diverse and resilient food system in a post Covid recovery.
- The Green Communities strand will develop templates for shaping and celebrating recognisable low carbon community plans in both urban and rural settings, taking reference from the successful Green Flag Award concept.
At the core of the programme is a focus on collaboration at both institutional level among public and private sectors organisations and within the wider community at large, where harnessing bottom-up engagement and lateral knowledge transfer will be instrumental in creating change- a key target outcome in each of the three strands.
Ponds constitute easily established relatively low-cost actions, applicable at national and local level, to tackle both the biodiversity and climate emergencies. Ponds can act as a fundamental tool for carbon sequestration as they have the potential to sequester 20-30 times the amount of carbon compared to woodlands, grasslands and other habitats (Taylor et al.,2019).
Ponds are a rapidly declining habitat, primarily driven by agricultural intensification and increased urban sprawl. Sadly, over 50% of Ireland’s amphibian wetlands have been lost to drainage, industrial peat extraction, pollution and natural senescence in the past 100 years (Reid et al., 2014). Of the 12,200 small, enclosed water bodies across Ireland, 8,000 are less than a hectare in extent and those smallest in size have been subject to the greatest pressures. Yet, these small ponds provide valuable habitats for a range of species: insects such as damsel- and dragonflies, pond skaters and whirligig beetles, amphibians such as frogs and newts, a range of amber and red-listed birds such as, snipe and water rail, as well as productive hunting grounds for Ireland’s 9 species of bat.
Fortunately, pond creation can also be an efficient and manageable way for Local Authorities and communities to assist in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Small ponds typically involve low resource input and are not costly to make timewise, therefore, providing everyone with an important tool to tackle climate change and halt biodiversity loss.
One of the key aims of the Ponds for Biodiversity project is to create a set of publicly accessible demonstration sites across Ireland which demonstrate to practitioners and policy makers how ponds can help to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss. We will be running pond creation/restoration and management workshops at these demonstration sites aimed at Local Authorities, parks operatives and local communities.
How can you get involved with our Ponds for Biodiversity Project?
Why not join our ‘adopt a pond’ network of citizen scientists/community groups monitoring and managing newly created ponds, and/or existing ponds. Through online material, including informational videos, we will guide you on how to successfully monitor and manage your local pond for wildlife. We will be initiating ‘Adopt a Pond’ throughout 2023.
Resources available to you to become a local pond hero
In the New Year we will have our own material. We are very excited to share this with you. We are currently drafting the following pond resources for Ireland:
- Ponds for Wildlife Pamphlet
- How to Create Your Own Pond pamphlet
- The Pond Book (Irish Edition)
- The National Pond Plan: Actions and Plans Report
At the moment our partners, Freshwater Habitats Trust (UK), are the go-to organisation for all things pond related.