42 Wild places How to make a T

he Broads is a wonderful wetland, a place of dykes, ponds, marshes and fens, full of amazing wildlife. It’s a last remnant of a vast

wetland habitat that covered much of East Anglia 1,000 years ago, in a time before modern drainage techniques had turned the watery wilderness into agricultural fi elds. Wetlands are massively threatened habitats.

Since 1700, 87% of the world’s wetlands have been lost, and we are currently losing wetlands at a rate three times faster than natural forests! So, if you enjoy your visit to the Broads, why not create your own bit of wildlife wetland at home?

Building a wildlife pond or mini broad Designed and constructed well, a pond will require minimal maintenance but provide enormous benefi t to wildlife in gardens and parks. Your pond can be small or large – even an old sink dug into the ground will attract newts, frogs and dragonfl ies. Add a few plants and ensure that the edges are buried to ground level and wildlife will fi nd it naturally. A larger pond will give a variety of habitats and space for marsh and shallow water plants and associated invertebrates. If your soil is heavy clay, then you may be able to

just dig a hole, keep wetting and compressing the clay, and then allow the hole to fi ll with rainwater. If your soil is more free draining, then the pond will need lining. Rigid, pre-formed liners are available to bury into the ground, or you can buy a polyethylene, PVC or butyl rubber membrane to line the hole, ideally laid on a layer of sand, old carpet or underlay to protect it from punctures. A pond combining a deep area and shallow, shelving edges will be best for a variety of plants and animals. Try to ensure that the pond is deep enough, about

60cm (2’). Shallow ponds can dry out in hot weather and freeze in winter. If you need to top up water levels, use rainwater from a butt if you can. If you do use tap water, leave it to stand for 48 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate before adding it to the pond.





mini broad

What to put in your pond? A variety of native plants is best. A mixture of fl oating, emergent and submerged plants will give a range of diff erent microhabitats for animal life. Specialist online retailers and some garden centres sell native pond plants and you may be able to transfer some plants from another garden pond.

Some plants to try Submerged: water milfoil, hornwort, water violet, curled pondweed Floating: water soldier, frogbit, white water lily (large ponds only) Emergent: purple loosestrife, water mint, yellow fl ag iris (large ponds only)

And some creatures Animals will generally fi nd their own way to ponds. Insects such as water boatmen and water beetles will fl y in, and mayfl ies, damselfl ies and dragonfl ies will visit to lay eggs. Their larvae will soon establish a thriving community. Water fl eas and snails often appear as if by magic (probably transferred as eggs on water plants or maybe on the feet of visiting birds). Newts and frogs nearly always seem to fi nd ponds without any deliberate introduction!

Something fi shy? Interesting as fi sh are, they don’t really benefi t a wildlife pond. They will eat invertebrates, newts and frogspawn, and enrich the water, leading to blooms of blanket weed and other algae. Cloudy, nutrient- rich water will lead to die-back of submerged water plants.

Plants to avoid! Some non-native plants are invasive and cause major problems if they are introduced into the wider environment. Please don’t put any of these plants in your pond (and check with your garden centre as they have several names): • Australian swamp stonecrop or New Zealand pygmyweed

• Parrot’s feather • Floating pennywort • Water ferns (Azolla fi liculoides and Azolla caroliniana)

Other top tips • Try to site your pond away from overhanging trees, otherwise fallen leaves will add nutrients to the water and create endless work clearing them out. • Make sure that your pond has a gently shelving edge so that hedgehogs and other small mammals can get out of the water if they fall in. Put in a ramp or a few rocks around the edge if necessary. • Aim for a fl oating plant cover over about half the water surface. This will provide shade and shelter for animals but allow suffi cient light for submerged plants. Floating plants also help to keep the water cool and control algae. • If your pond gets too full of plants, gently clear it out (but be careful not to puncture the liner). Pull out plants from about a third to a half of the pond between September and January. Make sure that you leave the plants close to the pond for a few days to allow any small creatures to return to the water. • Please don’t transfer any plants, frogspawn or water from your pond into a wild waterway or pond. You could accidentally release non-native species into the natural environment or spread diseases.

More info to help you • • • Find out about pond creation on a grand scale by visiting Carlton Marshes – see page 32.

Water mint Nick Sanderson, Broads Authority Education Offi cer

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