11 March 2009

Froglife says “Just Add Water”

Pond numbers in the UK’s countryside have dropped sharply in the last century, but Just Add Water, a new campaign launched by Froglife, is hoping to help lessen the impact to Britain’s biodiversity by encouraging people to dig ponds closer to homes, in the UK’s towns and cities.

These new ponds, it is hoped, will provide new breeding places for some of the UK’s widespread amphibians, many of which are thought to be disappearing in some regions.

Some species, like the Common Frog and Smooth Newt, are known to colonise new ponds quickly if present locally. Common Toad is also known to frequent garden ponds, particular larger ones. Yet many of these species are disappearing from sites across the UK, often driven by loss of crucial breeding ponds.

The Common Toad is now listed on the Government’s Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) ‘watchlist’ due to recent declines.

Just Add Water will provide information to the public on how to build ponds, through a new advice booklet and website (www.froglife.org/justaddwater).

“85% of the population have gardens, and many of these can be made frog-friendly by adding a pond.” said Daniel Piec, Froglife’s Head of Conservation. “Within months, ponds often become an oasis for local wildlife – providing feeding and breeding grounds for a host of amphibians, and many important invertebrates, mammals and birds.”

“What we’re calling for is for gardeners to put down the trowel, reach for the spade and get digging.” said Mr Piec.

The Just Add Water campaign is centred around a new booklet called ‘Just Add Water – how to build a wildlife pond’. The free booklet offers advice on a variety of subjects: from what shape to dig, how deep to go, and where to get the water, to technical advice on making ponds safe for young children.

The Just Add Water campaign is supported by a number of organisations including The Environment Agency, the UK government agency concerned mainly with flood risk and water resource management and environmental protection, but which also has a key role to play in promoting conservation of water and wetland wildlife.

Alastair Driver, the National Conservation Manager for the Agency said: “Ponds are very special places for wildlife and for people, but so many have fallen rapidly into disrepair due to bad design. The expert guidance in this excellent booklet can change all that, and we are sure it will ‘spawn’ many new frog habitats that are built to last!”

Froglife would like to thank the following organisations for their support for Just Add Water: Bridge House Trust; British Waterways; Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Biodiversity Partnership Fund; Essex & Suffolk Water; Kaiser Trust – supporting the community; Natural England; Northumbrian Water; and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Get digging: www.froglife.org/justaddwater