Farm News | November 29, 2023
Appeal to dog walkers!
Please do not allow dogs to go into any of the ponds at the farm. We don’t mean to be killjoys, but dogs swimming in the ponds are killing all chance of bringing the ponds to life. We need your help to make the farm a biodiversity hotspot for all to enjoy…
In the past, all farms would have had several ponds, providing water for cattle and other farm animals. In most places, these were drained and replaced with mains water supply. This caused a major loss of important habitat for freshwater species including amphibians. We want to bring these back to Lauriston Farm.
The problem: no plants or wildlife living in the ponds after two years
In 2021, we dug multiple ponds in the two northern fields – our ‘wildlife protection zone’. But two years later, our wildlife cameras mostly capture images of dogs, not wildlife, at the ponds. By this time, we would have expected to see the ponds coming to life with freshwater plants and animals (scroll to the end for details on how this works). However, this has not happened because of disturbance from dogs.
The solution: human protection to make sure the ponds can get established
Dogs don’t know they’re doing any harm! But they are damaging the pond banks and stirring up the soil at the base. This means plants cannot get established, and so nothing else can live in the ponds either.
You may have noticed we have put some rustic wooden fencing around the ponds. This is to try to limit some of the disturbance from dogs entering the water.
The northern fields are really important for wildlife on the farm. We ask dog walkers not to go there at all, because there is no way to walk dogs without disturbing the birds who feed and nest here.
Pondlife also needs human protection to return and survive.
Please do not allow your dogs to go into or around the ponds.
And please also spread the word among other dog walkers about the reason.
With your help, we hope that by 2025 these muddy holes in the ground will be transformed and we will see amphibians moving in to breed in the early spring.
Development of a pond
First, we need pioneering plants such as water starworts, pondweeds and duckweeds to get established. Plants are the primary producers in most ecosystems and without their presence the water will remain mostly un-oxygenated. The plants will bring Chironomid midge larvae, water louse Asellus aquaticus, beetles and bugs (Heteroptera). These should be followed by a whole series of mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies and snails, all of which are essential sources of food higher up the chain. Once established at Lauriston Farm, the ponds could then form a connected network for frogs, toads and newts. But this will only happen if humans protect the ponds and banks.