Ponds, Pools and Lochans

4.3 Planning pond management

Box 1 summarises the main steps in planning and undertaking pond management. As this summary shows, pond management does not only involve invasive techniques such as dredging and removing vegetation. The best pond management is often based only on noninvasive methods such as survey, observation, protection of historical features or establishment of buffer zones.

Is it necessary to survey?

Without good survey information pond management will be undertaken blindfold and as much harm is likely to be done as good. Appropriate methods for gathering ecological and archaeological data are described in Section 3, and these should be employed wherever possible.

Where survey information is not available this should severely limit the scope of any invasive management which is undertaken. In particular, there are many situations where the historical interest of ponds is most likely to be successfully maintained by doing nothing. If possible dig another new pond instead. If pond management without supporting survey data is essential, useful rules of thumb in such cases are:

  • Identify different habitat types: stands of emergent plants such as bulrush or bottle sedge; marginal grasses (especially the floating sweet-grasses Glyceria spp.); shaded areas; drawdown zones; areas of bare ground.
  • Do not eliminate any of these existing habitats from a pond.
  • If dredging, tree-felling or sediment removal are necessary (perhaps for amenity reasons), avoid drastic changes. In particular do not change more than about 25% of the existing site.
  • Focus on protecting the pond from pollution as far as possible; in ponds fed by surface water, aim to install large buffer zones if they are not already present. Where possible re route inflows draining roads or intensively farmed land.
  • If managing more than one pond, consider the ponds as a group and try and maintain different types (deep, shallow and seasonal ponds, shaded and unshaded ponds, grazed and ungrazed). Avoid making all the ponds in an area look the same.

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Figure 18. If you cannot do a detailed survey of a pond before management, maintain examples of all habitat types. For example, keep areas of leaf litter, fallen wood, different plant species and densities of plant stands. Dont manage ponds to fixed rules like dredge 1 / 3 of the pond at a time; doing so may eliminate all examples of a particular habitat or vegetation type from the pond. Pond Action


Box 1. Planning and undertaking pond management
  • Find out what is already known about the pond (conservation value, historical interest, archaeological importance). Discuss with local people what they think of the pond and how they use it.
  • For most ponds, comparatively little or no information is usually available. This doesnt mean that the pond is of little interest, just that it hasnt been surveyed.
  • If necessary, survey the pond using the standard methods recommended in this guide. Contract professional biologists or archaeologists to do this work if the group or organisation does not have the necessary expertise amongst its members. Management advice should normally be given in the light of detailed survey data.
  • Prepare (or have prepared) a management plan for the site using the survey information collected and the objectives of the group responsible for the management of the site.
  • If professional survey work is undertaken make sure that everyone is involved in discussing a draft version of the management plan before a final version is agreed.
  • Some work may be carried out by carefully supervised volunteer groups; other work (such as rerouting road drains, herbiciding alien invasive aquatic plants) is likely to need professional contractors (if herbicides are being used, contractors must be licensed). All work should be carefully supervised, especially if any invasive management is planned (e.g. sediment or plant removal)
  • Do management work a little at a time and monitor the results.


Click to enlarge image
Click to enlarge image
Figure 19. Encourage the development of rich plant mosaics. Rather than single concentric rings of emergent plants, floating-leaved plants and submerged plants, aim for complex mixtures growing at a variety of densities. It may be possible to encourage this by modifying the margins of ponds to make them broader and more undulating
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