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£5,600 grant gives wildlife new home in Writhlington

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: October 20, 2012

WATER: Russell Zisa-Davies, of Green Man Gardening, at the ponds he has built near Writhlington

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Vital new ponds have been created in Writhlington to safeguard rare species, thanks to funding and support from the Million Ponds Project and Biffaward.

The grant of £5,600 from the Pond Digging Fund has enabled Russell Zisa-Davies, of Greenman Gardening, to dig five new clean water ponds.

The natural clay ponds are currently filling with runoff from surrounding farm land and the direct rainfall.

The new ponds on private land alongside the Wellow Brook River will mean that otters, lesser horseshoe, soprano pipistrelle, Bechsteins, barbastelle and noctule bats, fresh water crayfish, common toad, grass snake, song thrush, reed bunting, yellow wagtail, tree sparrow, water vole, northern lapwing, flat sedge, great crested newt and many other plants and animals will have a secure future.

Mr Zisa-Davies said: "A staggering 80 per cent of ponds in the countryside are in poor or very poor condition, so it is very important that new clean water ponds such as these are created, giving the hundreds of species that depend on ponds a fighting chance.

"We have wanted to dig some ponds here for a long time, but didn't know where to start. The Million Ponds Project has been very helpful, helping us to make the best possible ponds, and finding the money to pay for it.

"Creating clean water ponds that will develop into rich wildlife hotspots is relatively straight forward, as long as you adhere to three key criteria: ponds need a clean water source, free from fertilisers, pesticides, run-off from roads, leaky septic tanks or run-off from intensive agriculture; ponds need to be left to colonise naturally, without the addition of plants and animals; ponds need to be left to thrive without undue disturbance."

Million Ponds project officer Pascale Nicolet said: "This is an ideal spot to create wildlife ponds because the water coming off the unimproved grassland is clean, free from pollution. It means the delicate plants and animals that can't survive in polluted ponds will be able to find a home here.

"We are thankful to Biffaward for providing the funds that made this work possible."

As well as creating the bonds Mr Zisa-Davies is working on improving the wildlife around the area through activities such as hedge laying, wildflower planting, bird boxes and other wildlife-friendly activities.

The success of the scheme will be monitored by Mr Zisa-Davies, Cam Valley wildlife group and Million Ponds Project staff.

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