A previous article in British Wildlife (Sayer et al. 2013) focused on Richard Waddingham and his Norfolk farm, emphasising an urgent need for pond restoration and management on farmland. Here, Carl Sayer, Juliet Hawkins and Helen Greaves discuss the history of farm ponds, the problems that they have faced over recent decades, the restoration and management of farm ponds in Norfolk and Suffolk, and the benefits they provide for wildlife.
The first pond of the survey is approached along a set of tramlines in a ripening but still wave-rippled barley field, deep in East Anglian farmland. Peering over low willow regrowth on the pond’s southern side, we see the results of two years of plant recolonisation revealed in a low shaft of sun. An underwater glade, dappled with dense stonewort meadows concentrically guarded by a canopy of pond-weeds, giving way to rushes and abruptly folded forget-me-not leaves in shallow, spring-clear water.