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New project will help conserve and protect ancient ponds

One of the Pingos on the Great Eastern Pingo Trail at Stow Bedon, near Watton.
Photo: Denise Bradley
Copy: Ed Foss
For: EDP Norfolk Mag Wayland 10 reasons
©Archant Photographic 2009
01603 772434

One of the Pingos on the Great Eastern Pingo Trail at Stow Bedon, near Watton. Photo: Denise Bradley Copy: Ed Foss For: EDP Norfolk Mag Wayland 10 reasons ©Archant Photographic 2009 01603 772434

©Archant Photographic 2009

A new project to help protect the future an area of the Brecks which is home to many rare plant and animal species is to be launched.

The rare pond mud snails are found at Stow Bedon's pingo ponds. Picture: Freshwater Habitats TrustThe rare pond mud snails are found at Stow Bedon's pingo ponds. Picture: Freshwater Habitats Trust

The natural ponds, also know as pingos, at Stow Bedon Common, near Watton, are a haven for an impressive range of wildlife.

Owned by the Stow Bedon Fuel Allotment Charity and with help from the Freshwater Habitats Trust, over the next year the area around the pingos will be cleared and new fencing installed to allow livestock to graze the site.

The grazing animals will keep the ponds in perfect condition for the wildlife that live there by stopping the growth of trees and scrubs.

The project has been made possible by a grant of almost £32,000 from the Biffa Award which administrates money donated by the Biffa Group.

Volunteers learn to survey for the rare pond mud snail atStow Bedon Common’s pingo ponds. Picture: Freshwater Habitats TrustVolunteers learn to survey for the rare pond mud snail atStow Bedon Common’s pingo ponds. Picture: Freshwater Habitats Trust

Freshwater Habitats Trust project officer Pete Case said: “I am delighted to be able to do more to care for the wildlife at this exceptional site.

“The grant from Biffa Award has made it possible to keep these ponds in great condition.”

The 30 ponds were created over 12,000 years ago by ground-ice thawing during the last Ice Age, leaving behind shallow depressions which filled with water.

Free from pollution, the ponds are home to water beetles, dragonflies and damselflies, and uncommon water plants such as carnivorous Bladderwort.

Volunteers learn to survey for the rare pond mud snail atStow Bedon Common’s pingo ponds. Picture: Freshwater Habitats TrustVolunteers learn to survey for the rare pond mud snail atStow Bedon Common’s pingo ponds. Picture: Freshwater Habitats Trust

The site is also home to Norfolk’s only known population of pond mud snail, a species which has declined rapidly throughout the UK and is now a priority for conservation.

When the Freshwater Habitats Trust began working at the site three years ago, they helped the local community to better understand the significance of the pingos by commissioning professional baseline surveys for plants and invertebrates. It was these surveys which revealed the important populations of the pond mud snail.

As part of the project, the trust will also be supporting community members to become guardians of the site.

Training events and practical work sessions will help to create a resource of volunteers to continue caring for the site long into the future.

Pingo pond at Stow Bedon, near Watton.
 Picture: Denise BradleyPingo pond at Stow Bedon, near Watton. Picture: Denise Bradley

Gillian French, head of grants at the Biffa Award said it was “fantastic to be able to conserve such an important site”.

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