20 May 2011

Froglife Made a Splash in London

Froglife is reflecting on the success of the London Living Water project, as the three year programme comes to an end.  Volunteers, Friends Groups and young people have helped the groundbreaking project dig or improve 30 London ponds over the last 36 months.

Since the start of the project in April 2008, Living Waters officers Rebecca Turpin and Alex Draper have helped to create, restore and enhance ponds in the London boroughs of Haringey, Enfield, Hounslow, Tower Hamlets, Greenwich, Bexley and Lewisham, meaning better habitats for the capital’s wildlife.
“Ponds, especially ones that are designed and managed for wildlife, are far apart and few in number in a heavily urbanised borough,” adds Dr Iain Boulton, Parks Projects Officer in Lambeth. “All of these new ponds are in places where access to natural space is always very limited, giving people living and working in Lambeth much better access to a series of water bodies that they can use for learning, relaxation, volunteering and most important of all, a greater understanding and appreciation of nature on their own doorstep.”

Over 1500 people have been engaged in this project from digging ponds and planting them up, to taking part in amphibian identification workshops, pond management training and family activities such as pond dipping and shadow puppet shows.

“I hope the wildlife pond will encourage other Friends groups to follow us in building ponds which will serve the community, local schools and of course our native amphibians for many years to come," said David Macdonald, Chairman Friends of Downhills Park in Haringey which benefitted from a new pond.

The ponds would not have been created or restored without lots of hard work, so a big thank you to everyone who chipped in and got muddy!

“We are incredibly proud of the Living Waters model. We’ve replicated it in Glasgow and aim to roll it out to other urban settings,” explains Sam Taylor, Froglife’s Deputy CEO. “This project really demonstrates a need for more urban ponds for wildlife, as well as the huge interest people have in getting involved in projects to improve their local area.”

Froglife continues to be the lead partner on the Standing Water Biodiversity Action Plan in London, and will be pushing for more and better ponds in the capital and other cities. We also have a development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for our Dragon Finder project to promote reptiles, amphibians and their habitats in London.

London Living Waters would not have been so successful without the help of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Biffawards, the SITA Trust, Grantscape, The Veolia Environmental Trust, Cory Environmental Trust in Britain and the Million Ponds Project as well as all the borough councils we have worked with.

Thank you!

All photos by Rebecca Turpin and Alex Draper

18 May 2011

Wildlife in the Woods

Sunday 22nd May 2011 is the International Day for Biological Diversity. An annual event, the theme for celebrations this time is forests, as part of the UN’s international year celebrating these biodiverse habitats.

Across the world, forests threatened with deforestation and the effects of climate change are home to some spectacular exotic species, including reptiles and amphibians. There is increasing pressure to put a monetary value on the ‘ecosystem services’ such landscapes provide, with the aim to offer better protection for forests and the people that depend on them. This includes not only processing CO2 but also preventing flooding, drought and disease.

The UK’s woodland habitats are just as valuable to amphibians and reptiles – species use them for hiding, hunting for food and to hibernate in for the winter. Like many toads, our mascot Widdy spends the winder hibernating in a woodland, before crossing the road to her breeding pond every spring. Wooded areas form an important element in the mosaic habitats that are precious for our reptiles - you may be lucky enough to spot an adder or common lizard bathing in the sun on a woodland path before it quickly slithers into the undergrowth.

Trees also provide humans with all sorts of hidden benefits, and many people fought for our forests in protests about the government sell-offs earlier in the year. After this precarious time for the UK’s forests, their future is now safe. Isn’t it?

"Protection for ancient woodland in the UK is still inadequate and our records show that over 400 ancient woods are currently under threat from development plans,” says Nick Sandford, Regional and Local Government Officer with the Woodland Trust. “Ensuring the long term protection of this incredibly precious and rare habitat is imperative, especially now that ownership of the public forest estate is no longer an immediate issue."

So, if you fancy celebrating trees this weekend, there are a number of things you can do to protect and enjoy the UK’s precious green resources:

• Practice your tree spotting and identification (you could also download an app to help!)

• Take your litter home with you when visiting woods and be cautious about fire risks, particularly in very dry weather

• Plan planting some native tree species in your garden or land (the best time for planting is between October and March)

• Volunteer to help manage local nature reserves and woodlands.  You can find out more about volunteering with Froglife on Hampton Nature reserve here

• Choose recycled wood and paper products, or ones that show the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo

• Keep an eye out for future campaigns to protect our precious woodland habitats

Photo by Lucy Benyon

17 May 2011

‘Just Add Water’ and dig a pond!

Froglife have launched a 2nd edition of our popular Just Add Water booklet, packed full of hints and tips on creating a pond of any size which can attract frogs, toads, newts, dragonflies, hedgehogs, bats, birds and other wildlife. 

As wildlife author Simon Barnes says in the foreword to the booklet: “A pond is a small miracle, one that brings life to a place and joy to those all around. A new pond is a soft explosion of life.” 

We have teamed up with World of Water Aquatic Stores to help people across the UK create more wildlife ponds. Copies are available in the 20 stores across the country. You can also buy materials and native plants to create your pond from one of the World of Water stores and then sign up for free Froglife Friendship by completing a form on the back page of the booklet.

Froglife are aiming to record the new habitats exploding in gardens everywhere as a result of the partnership on our Just Add Water pond map.

“We’d love to hear stories from people digging or building new ponds,” explains Lucy Benyon, Conservation Communication Officer at Froglife. “We are mapping the wildlife ponds that pop up across the country thanks to our help, and collecting photos and advice so people can share their experiences and ideas. We’re hoping to create 200 new ponds through the project, so get out there and get ponding!”

You can tell us about your new pond by dropping an email with some pictures and your location to info@froglife.org . Stories will also be uploaded to our pond gallery.

Ponds not only support different species by providing somewhere to breed, look for food, drink and bathe, they can also add an attractive feature to your garden for humans to enjoy through quiet contemplation or pond dipping. Just Add Water contains useful ideas for maintaining and enjoying your pond once you have created it.

So, in the words of Simon Barnes, what better time to “light the green fuse, step back - and wonder at the forces you have unleashed.”

Or download a PDF of Just Add Water here 

Or view the booklet on the World of Water website here and search for your nearest store.

16 May 2011

My Wild Life Project launches with a Family Affair

Join Froglife for the first reminiscence event of our new project My Wild Life at Yaxley Library on Thursday 2 June at 10.30.

Jodie's hamper of goodie to
trigger wildilfe memories
As part of a series of events celebrating National Family Week, the library has invited us to hold a picnic-themed event for children, parents and grandparents. A reminiscence kit of nostalgic items will be used to encourage older people to remember their childhood adventures and share them with younger people. Afterwards they will have the opportunity to be part of filmed interviews which will eventually be made into a DVD to celebrate the project.

It’s great that this project works so well as part of the National Family Week events,” said My Wild Life Project Officer Jodie Coomber. “Families can come along and do something together; sharing memories, having fun and eating froggy cupcakes!”

Anyone is welcome to come along and take part, so if you want to have a fun and educational family day out, Yaxley Library is the place to be! Don’t worry if you can’t make this event though, there will be plenty more throughout the summer to get involved with.

If you would like to know more about My Wild Life please visit the website or contact Jodie on 07875 958831 or jodie.coomber@froglife.org.

You can find out more about Froglife's My Wild Life project here.

My Wild Life is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Photo by Jodie Coomber