|New Ponds for Penenden Heath|
|Written by Tony Harwood|
|Saturday, 16 March 2013 07:40|
A group of eight ponds, all in slightly different aspects of light and shade, have been excavated on a species-poor area of improved grassland that forms part of a small area of recovering heathland on the northern edge of Maidstone Borough Council's Penenden Heath. The resultant spoil was utilised to create two south-facing "basking banks" for the resident reptiles. It is hoped that the local frog population, observed during scrub clearance interventions at the site last autumn, will utilise the new ponds.
The first and largest pond was dug on Christmas day and the sandy soil covering the liner has already sprouted countless water-blinks (Montia fontana). A number of ephemeral ponds formerly existed within the locality but they were either directly destroyed or have subsequently permanently dried-out, as a result of changes in hydrology, as a result of the widening of the nearby M20.
It is likely that the new ponds will be temporary in character, as they rely completely on rainwater. Further, no plants or animals will be introduced to the ponds and they will be allowed to naturally develop their own unique flora and fauna. Unrestricted public access means that the ponds and their surroundings are regularly trampled and disturbed by people and animals, which creates additional micro-habitats and favours a number of uncommon plants and animals.
It is a fascinating prospect as I await the evolution of the ponds over coming months – certainly far more interesting than creating an instant planted and stocked pond.