Author Kevin Lerwill
Gatwick Greenspace Project Community Wildlife Officer
Quite often we are asked by private landowners and local authorities to give advice, or to help improve, the many ponds and larger lakes in our project area for wildlife, which is great, I love ponds. However, the majority of our established lakes and ponds have multiple uses and seem to have many of the same problems affecting them, which can make improving them for wildlife more of a challenge.
On one site, which is used by a local angling club, the Gatwick Greenspace Partnership volunteers have recently installed an aquatic invertebrate shelter area, which small insects, such as damselfly larvae, pond skaters and diving beetles can hide behind, safe in the knowledge that the fish can’t get to them behind their barrier of birch bundles. It is hoped that by providing several protected areas like this here and elsewhere, more insects will survive into adulthood, thus increasing the biodiversity in the water and in the marginal vegetation beyond.
This was done with the agreement of the angling club beforehand and I think that co-operation is the key word here - maintaining a regular dialogue with other user groups and explaining your intentions and the wider benefits that they will bring to the area, normally overcomes any suspicion or doubts I find. I also posted a small poster nearby to inform people what this new structure was for, as raising awareness is also part of the process.
Ok, I realise it probably doesn’t quite qualify as a Marine Conservation Zone just yet, but the basic principle is the same in my mind and if these initial shelter areas show signs of increased insect activity in the ponds, then I hope to install more in the future.