Still waters covered with fine duckweed, the eyes of a common frog just visible on the surface… This is many people’s impression of a ‘pond’. But ponds can come in all shapes and sizes, and occur in a variety of habitats.
In the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), ponds are defined as small, permanent or seasonal water bodies that are up to two hectares in size (less than three football pitches). To be considered as a priority habitat, the pond must be of high conservation or ecological importance, be home to species that are particularly scarce, have exceptional groups of plants and animals, or have other attributes such as being rare, old or part of a special landscape. It’s thought that around 20% of the UK’s 400,000 ponds (not including those in gardens) might meet one or more of these criteria.
Ponds at the Sirhowy Valley Woodlands
Ponds are identified as a key habitat for conservation in the Blaenau Gwent LBAP, and certain specific types of ponds are also recognised as being of significance at the county, Welsh or UK level. Pond habitats may support rich assemblages of flora and fauna, including many rare plants and invertebrates as well protected fauna species such as great crested newt.
The site contains one large permanent pond (Cardiff Pond) and two smaller ponds, all of which are considered potentially suitable for great crested newt although this species has not been recorded on the site to date. Upland ponds elsewhere within the county borough have been found to support rich dragonfly assemblages which include scarce blue-tailed damselfly (Ischnura pumilio), black darter (Sympetrum danae) and keeled skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens). Only one dragonfly species, common hawker (Aeshna juncea) was recorded from the site by the present survey, but it is likely that a range of others are also present. No rare or declining plant or invertebrate species have been recorded to date.
Ponds are widespread throughout the UK. However, currently only about 500 ponds of high conservation value are listed on the National Ponds Database. In certain areas, high quality ponds form significant elements of the landscape such as the Cheshire Plan marl pits, the pingos of East Anglia, mid-Wales’ mawn pools, and the machair pools in the Western Isles of Scotland.