Protecting Priority Ponds

Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is partnering with national charity, the Freshwater Habitats Trust, and Yorkshire Water to help save and protect Nidderdale’s ponds. A dedicated Priority Ponds…

Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is partnering with national charity, the Freshwater Habitats Trust, and Yorkshire Water to help save and protect Nidderdale’s ponds.

A dedicated Priority Ponds Project Officer is now being recruited to run surveys and deliver training for volunteers to help the long-term protection of the AONB’s priority ponds, thanks to funding through Yorkshire Water’s Biodiversity Programme.

Nidderdale AONB also plans to launch a new citizen science project to help survey and safeguard ponds considered a priority for protection, due to their wildlife interest. The project aims to recruit and train 20 volunteers to help collect biological data on priority species within the AONB across a minimum of 100 ponds, using clean water kits to assess the water quality. In addition, 50 ponds will undergo amphibian surveys for Common Toads, which also qualify ponds as Priority Ponds. The work will also survey dragonflies.

The move comes after volunteers in the AONB’s three-year citizen science project, The Wild Watch, discovered over 1,400 ponds across the AONB, including previously unknown high status Priority Ponds.

The Priority Ponds are classified as such as they support Great Crested Newts – a protected species in the UK – which favour clean ponds during the breeding season.

Concerns were raised by the AONB team around these Priority Ponds being ‘degraded and lost’.

Sarah Kettlewell, Development Team Leader at Nidderdale AONB, said: “Nationally, data has shown around 90% of ponds are in poor condition with extinction rates for freshwater species six times higher than marine habitats. Research shows supporting priority ponds increases landscape biodiversity by up to 25%. Identifying, protecting, managing and strengthening the freshwater network through pond creation is a priority for the AONB.”

Ben Aston, principal ecologist at Yorkshire Water, said: “Over the past few decades there has been amazing improvements in the ecology of our rivers, but it’s critical that we also help restore and protect headwater streams and particularly, ponds, which helps diversify and strengthen the ecology and natural processes of our catchments. As such, we are delighted to be able to support this project to help deliver this alongside customers across Nidderdale.”

Anne Carter, Northern England Freshwater Project Officer at Freshwater Habitats, said: “We will be supporting volunteers to become custodians of their local ponds and pondlife. Our aim is to protect, especially threatened, freshwater life for everyone to enjoy. We’ll be leading training on how to assess freshwater diversity, on pond management for biodiversity, as well as pond creation, and creating sustainable freshwater networks.”

Education packs on ponds will be produced for 20 AONB primary schools and community groups, alongside a guide on how to set up and manage a container pond to encourage families to establish mini garden ponds to help support biodiversity.

The work will ultimately help highlight ponds for designation, such as SSSI status, which gives higher levels of protection to conserve the pond’s special features.

Information on how to volunteer will be released later in the year.

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Notes to editors:

About Nidderdale AONB

Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Nature Beauty (AONB) is an area of 233 square miles located on the eastern flanks of the Yorkshire Pennines stretching from the high moorland of Great Whernside south and east towards the edge of the Vale of York. Designated as one of the UK’s protected landscapes, the AONB is home to over 16,000 people, as well as important habitats and wildlife, dark night skies, a rich history, and a diverse landscape. A dedicated AONB team works to protect and enhance this beautiful countryside and the qualities that make it so unique.


About Freshwater Habitats Trust

Freshwater Habitats Trust is an evidence-led environmental NGO working to protect freshwater biodiversity in the UK, and beyond, undertaking research and survey, practical conservation work and policy development.


About Yorkshire Water

We’re Yorkshire Water. The people trusted to take care of Yorkshire’s most valuable natural resource. On the surface, it sounds simple. We manage and look after the region’s water. But water is not quite like anything else. We’re not like any other business – and nowhere is quite like Yorkshire. Our work means much more than just supplying clean drinking water, taking away wastewater and looking after the region’s coast and countryside. We’re an integral part of Yorkshire life and millions of people who live and work here rely upon us, every single day.

We look after communities, protect the environment and plan ahead to look after Yorkshire’s water, today, tomorrow, always. 24/7, 365, we provide essential water and wastewater services to every corner of the Yorkshire region and play a key role in the region’s health, wellbeing and prosperity. That means over 5 million customers, and the millions of people who visit Yorkshire each year rely on us, every day. 140,000 businesses also depend upon the water we supply and the wastewater we take away to provide goods and services that support the economy – not only in Yorkshire, but across the United Kingdom and beyond.