Pond – Progress So Far

Back in February we announced in the Wheatley village newsletter that we had started to talk to experts about our trustees’ long-held wish to create a wildlife pond on The Howe. Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that our plans have been progressing nicely over the last six months, and we’re slowly getting closer to realising our dreams!

But why create a wildlife pond? Well, wildlife ponds are an important habitat, but sadly like so much of our natural world, they are in decline.

Half a million ponds have been lost over the last hundred years and one in five remaining ponds are thought to be in poor condition. But reversing this trend is relatively easy. And many communities and individuals are now taking action to help our aquatic life, often with the help of organisations like The Freshwater Trust or Wildlife Trust.

In fact, the situation on The Howe is pretty typical. When we initially started working on this project we discovered that up until about fifty years ago there used to be two ponds in the very place we are planning to dig them. They had been filled with builders’ rubble in the 1970s – so in fact we are actually re-instating two so-called ‘ghost ponds’ which is doubly exciting!

So far our plans have mainly just involved digging…

If you’re a regular visitor to The Howe, you may have noticed we’ve dug three rather deep holes in the bottom paddock, known as Tomb’s Field. Surrounded by orange plastic barrier fencing to prevent anyone (or any passing animal) from falling in, these are our pond ‘trial pits’.

It’s important to have trial pits as they help us make sure the location of the ponds work for water retention, and also that the water quality is good enough to support the vegetation and animals that will live in and around the ponds.

The soil on the Howe is quite varied, but in Tomb’s Field there’s plenty of clay – which is great for retaining water. Over the last few months the pits have all been slowly filling with rainwater and we’ve been regularly logging the water levels and testing the water too. This involves using special kits to check the phosphate and nitrate levels – which are indicators of pollutants – and the good news is that the levels are very low so it’s all looking very promising!

Next week we’re starting to work on our detailed plans – with the help of Adam Bows, our expert fresh water ecologist. We’ll use these drawings to support our application for a grant to Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment to fund the work – we’re handing this in on 2nd October. Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment are a charity who fund biodiversity projects across the county. Their aims are to help communities who want to carry out work that creates, protects and enhances natural habitats, allowing wildlife to thrive and supporting nature’s recovery.

We’re applying to create a total of three natural wildlife ponds in approximately the same spots as our trial pits, and should hopefully hear if our application has been successful by the end of the year. We’ll let you know how we get on.

Wish us luck!



1200 900 Maggie Fyffe

Leave a Reply

Start Typing