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Essex Pond Case Studies

Essex was once a pond-dense, mixed farming landscape, with small, hedged fields typical of ancient countryside. While changes in agriculture and increased development have caused clean water ponds to decline over the past century, there is still huge scope for creating and restoring ponds here, thanks to the widespread clay soils and presence of 'ghost ponds' from farming's past. We've dug more than 100 ponds in Essex so far, offering landscape-scale benefits to pond-associated species.

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Wetland Complex at Gestingthorpe

It was a joy to see this farmers' dream for a wetland complex brought to life. He had already created several ponds in a low-lying area of the farm under Higher Level  Stewardship ten years earlier. We created four more ponds under the DLL scheme, which were simply brimming with life when we visited a year later, including pond skaters, water boatmen and dragon flies, with the pretty blue flowers of brooklime blooming on the banks. This farmer has also restored a further pond on another part of the farm under the scheme.


Botanically-rich Pond Restoration

This pond was a classic closed-canopy pond which was filled with sediment and struggled to hold water during the summer months. Coppicing the southern banks (retaining some trees for cover on the northern banks) allowed light to reach the waters' edge, where a diverse range of marginal plants then appeared the following spring. These warm shallows - with areas of open water for mating displays and leafy plants for the female newts to fold their eggs into - are vital to the breeding success of great crested newts.

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A Pond Auction Delivers

This landowner had been waiting for an opportunity to create a complex of ponds to enhance the habitats on her historic Essex farm. When Natural England announced a District Level Licencing pond auction in Essex she jumped at the chance. The funding enabled her to transform some wet-lying, lightly-grazed pasture land into a haven for pond-associated species. We were hugely impressed by the skill of her long-serving farm hand who came out of retirement to complete the work. He mastered the shallow profiles required for DLL ponds, digging some of the best ponds we have seen so far!

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