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Countryside ponds under threat

Lowland ponds - the home of the Great-crested Newt, Medicinal Leech and Frogbit - are threatened by intensive land management, according to government research.

The Environment Minister, Angela Eagle, says agricultural activity, urban development and road construction are the key factors influencing pond loss and damage in the countryside.

The research was carried for DETR, the Department of Transport, Environment and the Regions by Pond Action and the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology.

New Ponds Created

But the report also points out that new ponds are being created at almost the same rate as they are being lost or damaged. The research suggests that farmers in lowland areas are creating ponds for their amenity value, and for storing water.

In 1996 there were an estimated 229,000 ponds in lowland Britain. Between 1990 and 1996 there was a high turnover, with in the region of 17,000 ponds lost. However almost the same number of ponds were created.

Agricultural Threat

The main causes of loss were filling in and drainage through agricultural activity. Further ponds were lost through urban development or road construction.

For the survey, ponds were defined as natural and man-made small waterbodies between 25 square metres and two hectares (roughly the size of two football pitches), which hold water for four months of the year or more (ie: they may be dry in the summer).

 July 21, 1998

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