August 26, 2008

Ponds Bring Creature Comforts

MORE than 100 ponds have been built in a North East park in a bid to improve wildlife habitats.

The Forestry Commission has passed the milestone of installing a century of ponds over the past three decades, in Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland.

And there is evidence the push to improve the natural world is bringing conservation benefits.

Two ponds have already been rated as of outstanding conservation value for having more than nine species of dragonfly, including the Lesser Emperor and the Southern Hawker. One of these prime locations is Bellcrag Flow, near Wark, part of the Border Mires Restoration Project.

Earlier this year experts also made Northumberland's first ever breeding record of the Broad bodied Chaser dragonfly in forest ponds near Wark.

The creature generally prefers southern climes, but seems to have found a niche in the north thanks to the habitat creation project.

Elsewhere, 23 ponds have been created in Hamsterley Forest, in County Durham, seven in Chopwell Wood, Gateshead, and eight in woodlands around Rothbury. Four of these are also highly rated for dragonflies.

Gordon Simpson, a wildlife consultant with the Forestry Commission, said: "It's amazing how quickly Mother Nature takes a grip on the ponds once they have been built. Many woodland ponds become parched in dry summers leaving wildlife high and dry. Insects, herons, wild fowl, otters and frogs are all benefiting from the work we've been doing.

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