Habitat Management – Ponds, Hedgerows
Ponds are an important feature of both the urban and countryside landscapes. They provide breeding sites for amphibians such as toads, frogs and newts and are also important for countless insects which spend part of their lifecycle living in ponds as larvae.
Ponds are highly sensitive to pollution, clean ponds are good for wildlife, polluted ponds have low wildlife diversity. However care needs to be exercised when managing ponds. Algae and water weeds are an important part of the pond ecosystem, providing food and shelter for many animals. Many people look at a pond and assume that because it is a bit murky and overgrown it is lifeless. This is often not so and it is important to look in your ponds to find out what is there. What you find will also tell you about how good the water quality is or is not. A Pond survey method has been developed for assessing pond quality based on species present but simply put if you have dragonflies, alder flies, damselflies and caddis flies present you have a good pond, but if all you have is flatworms and leeches then the quality is poor.
Important features of a pond include marginal vegetation and banks where animals such as toads can crawl out.
Hedgerows provide food and shelter for many animals. They also provide pathways by which bats and other animals travel through the countryside. A rich wildlife hedge will contain many species of tree and shrub which will provide nectar and fruit through the year. The more shrub species in a hedge the older it is likely to be and many of our Wealden hedgerows may be relics of very ancient woodlands. Hedges should be cut every other year or every third year. And preferably only one side cut at any one time. Cutting should take place after nesting birds have fledged and when the hedgerow fruits have been eaten and before birds start nesting, so between December and February is probably best.