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6. Trends and Threats [top]
However the opposite idea is gaining force-ponds are better left to evolve naturally because ponds at different stages of succession favour differing natural communities. In particular, ponds at the later stages of succession can be very diverse and are most likely to support unique communities, though their scenic and amenity value may be at a low ebb. If a pond requires major intervention to maintain its previous wildlife and/or amenity value, allowing natural succession to take place and creating a new pond instead may better serve conservation interests. Clearly this approach will not always be practicable but it should be seriously considered wherever possible.
In the Sussex context various trends in land management practices pose a threat to the quality and the existence of standing fresh waters:
The infilling of unwanted stock ponds with waste material.
Alien animal species are also causing problems in a few cases. For example the red-eared terrapin Trachemys scripta has been widely released by the general public into village ponds and other sites with good public access as individual animals outgrow their pet status. It now survives on a diet of fish, small waterfowl and amphibians and is suspected of also consuming large quantities of invertebrates. As yet there are no confirmed records of it breeding in this country, but it has the potential to become a serious problem. The American bullfrog (Rana catesbiana) was discovered to have successfully bred in Sussex for the first time in 1999. These large frogs prey on smaller amphibian species, and if they were to become established in Sussex on even a local scale, would represent a significant negative impact on pond ecology. A concerted attempt was made by English Nature, the Environment Agency and the Herpetological Conservation Trust to eradicate this colony through the removal of tadpoles and froglets from the site. This work is ongoing to ensure the complete eradication of the bullfrog population in the area. Marsh frogs Rana ridibunda are established at several sites East Sussex but it is not yet clear whether they pose a serious threat to native wildlife.
The release of excess fish stocks from fishing lakes and from garden ponds into countryside ponds is becoming a problem in Sussex and in some areas is having a serious effect on populations of great crested newt due to predation of newt larvae.
The creation of large lakes for fishing is becoming increasingly common as part of farm diversification schemes. There is potential for future colonisation of these lakes by toads. Fish predation has a far lesser effect on toad populations than on newts due to the distasteful skin of toad tadpoles.
The Reservoirs Act (1975) covers all reservoirs that are capable of holding more than 25,000m3 of water above natural ground level, which includes many sites in Sussex. The Act requires annual inspection by engineers and assigns liability to the landowner for potentially extensive maintenance works to meet stringent safety criteria. The potentially very high costs entailed in meeting these requirements can directly affect management decisions by landowners. For example in some cases economics dictate that water bodies be allowed to silt up rather than being dredged, in order that they remain under the size limit laid down by the Act. The financial implications can also act as a strong disincentive to reserve purchase by voluntary agencies.
There is great potential for the protection, restoration and enhancement of standing fresh waters in Sussex.
It is hoped that the Ponds Conservation Project, who will be looking to expand their Ponds for People project in 2002, may choose the southeast as the next area. This project, funded by lottery money, empowers community groups to restore ponds in their local areas by providing advice and funding. The project places a strong emphasis on ecological and archaeological sensitivity in restoration work and presents a great opportunity for valuable work to be done on ponds across Sussex. The creation of a new South Downs National Park will also offer many opportunities for pond creation, especially dew pond creation.
The severe flooding of parts of Sussex in autumn and winter 2000-2001 has meant many people are demanding action to reduce future damage. This is likely to lead to much stronger legislation preventing development in floodplains - this will also provide protection to areas of open standing water in floodplains. Widespread ditch clearance is also likely to occur, with mixed results-clearance can be expected to be positive for toads, but if unsympathetically done, detrimental to water voles.
There is a possibility of using legislation prohibiting damage to flora or fauna through the disposal of waste to prevent the infilling of ponds. However the definition of waste is often open to interpretation. In some districts planning permission is already required for the infilling of ponds using machinery. The extension of this interpretation across Sussex could encourage greater protection of ponds.
Moves are underway to restore the Wey & Arun and Chichester canals as working waterways. This presents an opportunity to work with the local canal restoration groups to combine a return to the canals' original function with retaining and enhancing the gains for biodiversity that have occurred while they have been disused. Particular issues will be the potential for retaining or replacing overgrown bankside habitats, and ponds that have formed in the line of the old canals. Deepening of canals and the wash created by large numbers of boat movements will also pose a threat to biodiversity
Local interest in wildlife gardening is growing fast and represents a chance to disseminate ideas about good practice in the creation and management of both private and public ponds. There is an opportunity to work with garden centres and landscape designers to promote the idea of wildlife friendly ponds. Public enthusiasm for surveying and monitoring the local environment can also be harnessed to gather detailed and highly valuable data on the location and condition of the regions standing water bodies.
an informal network of individuals and organisations interested in pond
conservation. Members include Arun DC, BTCV, EA, EN, Horsham DC, SWT,
SDCB, and WSCC. PondNet acts as a driving force for co-ordination of pond
related activities in Sussex and will be key to the implementation of
this plan. Current projects include:
Countryside Stewardship Waterside Landscape option and capital payments
for pond creation, pond restoration and scrape creation.
10.1 National Conservation Direction (as set out in Biodiversity: The UK Steering Group Report Volume 2: Broad Habitat Statement pp289-90)
Maintain and improve the conservation interest of standing open waters,
through the use of integrated management plans, and the sensitive management
of adjacent land.
Also see appendix for the national objectives and proposed targets for eutrophic standing waters
No net loss of ponds.
damage to standing fresh waters through development and agricultural/industrial
Fresh Waters Habitat Action Plan should be considered in conjunction with
a number of other Sussex Action Plans:
This plan is a working document. It is proposed that PondNet meet on an annual basis to assess and monitor the implementation of this plan. Concurrent with this annual meeting the plan will be reviewed by the lead agency (EA) in conjunction with the Sussex Biodiversity Partnership and updated and amended as necessary.
Barker, M. and Elliott, M., (2000) Sussex Amphibian and Reptile Group Millennium Report.
UK Biodiversity Group, (1995) Biodiversity: The UK Steering Group Report Volume 2.
Bramley, J., (2001) Species Action Plan for Sussex -Water Vole (3rd Draft)., Sussex Biodiversity Partnership.
Haines-Young, R.H. et al, (2000) Accounting for nature: assessing habitats in the UK countryside, DETR, London.
UK Biodiversity Group, (1998) Tranche 2 Action Plans Volume II - terrestrial and freshwater habitats, English Nature, Peterborough.
Williams et al, (1997) Designing New Ponds for Wildlife British Wildlife 8:3 137-150.
Williams et al, (1998) Lowland Ponds Survey 1996 - Final Report. Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, London.
The first and second drafts of this Habitat Action Plan were circulated to: Arun District Council, British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, East Sussex County Council, English Nature, Environment Agency, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, Horsham District Council, Pond Conservation Trust (Oxford), Southern Water, Sussex Biodiversity Partnership, Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre, Sussex Downs Conservation Board, Sussex University, Sussex Wildlife Trust, West Sussex County Council. Comments received on the first two drafts have been incorporated into this final draft.
draft has been circulated to all recipients of the first drafts and in
16.1 National Habitat Action Plan Objectives and Proposed Targets for Eutrophic Standing Waters (Tranche 2 Action Plans Volume II - terrestrial and freshwater habitats):
It is proposed that eutrophic water bodies in the UK should be classified into three tiers distinguished on grounds of naturalness, biodiversity and restoration potential. The exact criteria for these categories have yet to be agreed and the total number of sites falling into each Tier confirmed.
1 Ensure the protection and continuation of favourable condition of all Tier 1 eutrophic standing waters.
2 By 2005 take action to restore to favourable condition (typical plant and animal communities present) Tier 2 eutrophic standing waters that have been damaged by human activity.
3 Ensure that no further deterioration occurs in the water quality and wildlife of the remaining Tier 3 eutrophic standing water resources.