Help needed for AONB ponds survey project

Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is seeking volunteers to help with two vital surveys set to take place in 2022 to help save and protect its ponds.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 10:52 am

The new Priority Ponds Project Officer, Kate Wright, is seeking help to survey toad populations next spring, as well as carrying out clean water tests.

Iain Mann, Nidderdale AONB Manager, said: “We welcome Kate to this new and important role in the AONB team to help protect our ponds, as nationally data shows around 90 per cent of ponds are in poor condition, with high extinction rates for freshwater species.

“Pond life increases landscape biodiversity by 25 per cent, so strengthening our pond network is a huge priority.

“The support of volunteers in the AONB really is crucial.”

The project has been funded through Yorkshire Water’s Biodiversity Programme and the work is in partnership with national charity, the Freshwater Habitats Trust.

It follows the success of the AONB’s three-year citizen science project, The Wild Watch, which discovered over 1,000 ponds across the AONB, including previously unknown high status Priority Ponds.

And the AONB would like to gather more information about the many ponds within the landscape, with a view to identifying more Priority Ponds.

If anyone would like their pond to be considered for surveying Nidderdale AONB, please get in touch. To be a volunteer contact [email protected]

Kate Wright started her conservation career with the Freshwater Habitats Trust after obtaining a degree in Environmental Science from the Open University, followed by an MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation at the University of Leeds.

Kate said: “I’m hoping to share my passion for ponds and the excitement of discovering varied species in and around the water.

“I am particularly fond of toads and hope that we can learn more about their distribution through the project.

“It’s also a joy to be working in beautiful Nidderdale AONB, which is very much my ancestral home.”

Kate, who lives in Leeds, has traced her family roots back to the 1600s in upper Nidderdale until her great-grandfather moved from Lofthouse to Leeds with the railways.

Kate hopes to recruit and train around 50 volunteers to survey a minimum of 100 ponds. The amphibian survey work takes around an hour, with water testing for nitrate and phosphate levels taking less than 15 minutes per pond.

As well as providing training for the pond surveys, short courses in specialist areas, such as dragonfly identification and pond management, will be run.

And the project aims to identify ponds that might benefit from further specialist surveys to more fully assess the species present.

It will identify ponds that may benefit from works to maintain or restore their status, and identify areas where new pond creation would be most beneficial.

Find out more about the project at freshwaterhabitats.org.uk