The Friends group has been working to improve the pond area and make it an attractive and interesting place for children and parents. Earlier this year the boardwalk extension was installed using a grant of about £5,000 from the Lottery. Later this year, early September is the planned date, a new nature and trim trail will be installed in the pond area using a grant of around £10,000 from Biffa Award. We are also waiting for some tree trunk seating, and log piles in the spinney areas to be installed by the Council. With all these improvements taking place we asked Council officers to meet us by the pond to see whether the pond itself could also be improved, making it a more attractive feature for the park, and better enabled to support bio-diversity.
Four of us, Gary (park officer), Richard (bio-diversity), Brian (development officer) and me, met to consider what improvements might be possible. We were looking at the water level – whether it could be higher and more stable to avoid low levels over the summer, the exposed mud around the boardwalk areas particularly when the water is low, and the plants currently in and around the pond.
As with most things, there are no easy solutions. The pond doesn’t have a continuous water supply; it relies on natural drainage and a land drain from the adjacent middle field, so it will be difficult to maintain the water level during dry periods. It may be possible to raise the water level by changing the overflow arrangements, but we have to make sure this doesn’t lead to flooding or overflow on to another part of the park. The main current problem with plants in the pond is the invasive species Parrot Feather, which spreads over much of the pond preventing other plant growth and restricting other forms of pond wildlife from developing. Improving bio-diversity can only happen if the Parrot Feather is cleared. However, some planting could be done to provide a more attractive cover for the mud which is exposed at low water levels.
We agreed to meet fairly soon with a colleague of Richard’s who could advise on the pond level and other possible changes. Then we would meet again later in the year after a weed clearing day has taken place, which is already planned with an environmental student group from the university. At that stage we will be better able to assess what can be done in terms of the water level, the mud round the edges, and the overall planting in and around the pond.
It was a good start in our hope to improve the pond. We would like it to support a wider range of wildlife, and also look better as a feature on the park. The Council officers were positive in their approach and open to ideas about making improvements. Working with the Council we think both of these things will be possible. We will keep you informed of progress. As yet, we can’t work miracles, but we can help make changes which are good for the park, and good for local people, which is what we will keep trying to do.